As part of a larger structural reorganization of the State Department, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson wants to whittle down the number of special envoys and fold many of their portfolios into existing bureaus.
Special envoy positions for the Arctic, climate change, Burma, Libya, the Great Lakes region in Africa, Sudan and South Sudan would be folded into their respective bureaus (see main story). Here’s a breakdown of some of the other proposed changes.
Tillerson named several roles that would be “dual-hatted” with existing positions. The assistant secretary for oceans and international environmental and scientific affairs would be dual hatted as the special representative for environment and water resources. The special coordinator for Tibetan issues would be dual-hatted with the undersecretary for civilian security, democracy, and human rights. This undersecretary would also be dual-hatted with the special envoy for North Korean human rights issues.
The positions of special advisor for international disabilities rights and the special representative for international labor affairs would be removed and their functions and staff assumed by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.
The coordinator for international communications and information policy; the senior coordinator for international information technology diplomacy; the coordinator for cyber issues; and the special advisor for conflict diamonds would be cut and subsumed into the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs.
The senior representative to the Minsk Group would be removed and the functions transferred to a deputy assistant secretary in the European and Eurasian Affairs Bureau.
The special coordinator for Haiti would be removed and subsumed into the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs.
The Secretary’s Policy Planning Staff would assume the functions and staff of the coordinator for sanctions policy.
The Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs would assume the functions and staff of the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The senior advisor for partner engagement on Syria foreign fighters would be removed and subsumed into the Bureau of Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism.
The Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation would assume the functions and staff of the lead coordinator for Iran nuclear implementation, which would be removed.
The special representative for global partnerships would be cut and subsumed into the Office of Management Policy, Rightsizing, and Innovation.
The assistant secretary for energy resources would continue to perform the responsibilities of the special envoy and coordinator for international energy affairs.
The special envoy for the six-party talks, which deals with security concerns regarding North Korea, would be cut and folded into the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs.
The transparency coordinator position would be removed and duties transferred to the undersecretary for management.
The special advisor for global youth issues would be removed and duties transferred to the undersecretary of public diplomacy and public affairs.
The special envoy for the Colombian peace process would be cut and folded into the Western Hemisphere Affairs Bureau.
The personal representative for Northern Ireland issues position would be retired, and legacy and future responsibilities would be assigned to the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs.
The Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review special representative position would be cut.
The special envoy for the closure of Guantanamo Detention Facility position would be removed, and any legacy and future responsibilities would be assigned to the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs.
The special adviser for secretary initiatives and the senior advisor to the secretary positions would be removed.
Meanwhile, no organizational changes are planned for the following positions: special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations; ambassador-at-large and coordinator for counterterrorism; ambassador-at-large for global criminal justice; ambassador-at-large to monitor and combat trafficking in persons; special envoy for the human rights of LGBTI persons; coordinator for threat reduction programs; special negotiator for plutonium disposition; special representative of the president for nuclear nonproliferation; coordinator for U.S. assistance to Europe and Eurasia; special representative to the OSCE; permanent representative for the Conference on Disarmament; special representative for biological and Toxin Weapons Convention issues; chief economist, science and technology adviser; security coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority; special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS; special representative for North Korea policy; special advisor for children’s issues; special envoy and coordinator of the Global Engagement Center; and special representative for commercial and business affairs.
— Aileen Torres-Bennett
About the Author
Aileen Torres-Bennett is a freelance writer in Washington, D.C.