David T. Killion

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David T. Killion
Ambassador David T. Killion, U.S. Rep. to UNESCO.jpg
In office
2009–2013
Preceded by Louise Oliver (2004-2009)
Succeeded by vacant
Personal details
Born 1966
Danbury, Connecticut
Nationality American
Alma mater Wesleyan University
University of California at Los Angeles

Ambassador David T. Killion (born c. 1966) is an American government official and diplomat, appointed in 2009 by President Barack Obama to serve as the United States Permanent Representative to UNESCO, with the rank of Ambassador.[1] He left that office in December 2013.[2] On 10 April 2014, U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) announced Ambassador Killion's joint appointment as the Senate Staff Director for the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission).

Background[edit]

Ambassador Killion was born 1966 in Danbury, Connecticut. Mr. Killion received his undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.[3]

Career as Legislative Professional[edit]

After earning his M.A. and C.Phil. degrees in political science from UCLA, Mr. Killion worked as a congressional legislative staffer. From 1996-2001, Mr. Killion worked as a Senior Legislative Management Officer in the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Legislative Affairs, under the Clinton administration. His areas of responsibility managing congressional relations included Human Rights, Democracy, War Crimes, Women’s Issues, Oceans, and Environment and Science. From 2001 until 2009, he served as Senior Professional Staff Member for the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs.[4]

Killion was the Committee’s expert on State Department Operations, International Organizations, and International Education.[5] In this role he worked on legislation, the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004[6] which was enacted and created a Department of State Special Envoy to Combat anti-Semitism. Killion also “helped draft and shepherd through the house”[7] H.R. 1469, the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Foundation Act which was designed to increase the number of American college students studying abroad.[8] In 2009, in recognition of this work, NAFSA, the Association of International Educators awarded Killion its Congressional Staff Champion Award “for his commitment to advancing international education.”[9]

In 2014, after service as U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO, Killion returned to work as a legislative professional, receiving a joint appointment as the Senate Staff Director for the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission).

U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO[edit]

Under President Reagan, the U.S. in 1984 withdrew from UNESCO[10] and did not rejoin UNESCO until twenty years later. During his service as Senior Professional Staff Member for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, David Killion worked to ease passage of legislation to allow the re-entry of the U.S. into UNESCO.

On June 25, 2009, President Obama appointed Killion U.S. Permanent Representative to UNESCO. Ambassador Killion was sworn into office on August 12, 2009.

According to the Department of State Office of the Inspector General’s report in May 2012, Ambassador, Killion has prioritized creative, innovative and entrepreneurial approaches to U.S. diplomacy. The Report credits Killion with having taken “concrete steps to uphold and defend universal values, deepen relationships with U.S. allies, promote respect for human rights, [and] empower women and girls.”[11] It also recognizes Ambassador Killion’s work to “mobilize civil society and the private sector to address common challenges,” noting his efforts to “facilitate public-private partnerships between UNESCO and industry giants like Apple, Microsoft and Proctor and Gamble.”[11]

Soon after arriving in Paris in 2009, Ambassador Killion was widely credited for his energetic role in preventing the Director-Generalship of UNESCO from going to the controversial artist and Mubarak-era Egyptian Cultural Minister Farouk Hosni.[12]

Replying to anti-UNESCO American critics who have urged that the U.S. should again withdraw from participation in UNESCO, Ambassador Killion has argued that, "there are critical American interests at stake [at UNESCO]: moral, cultural, national security, even economic interests. We think this is a strategic piece of real estate in the international system. It can get us to places we couldn’t get to otherwise.”[13] He has insisted on UNESCO's value in promoting freedom of expression and science diplomacy,[14] advancing girls' education,[15] and defending Internet freedom.[16]

The U.S. role in UNESCO has become complicated following the withdrawal of U.S. funding to UNESCO as a consequence of UNESCO's admission of Palestine (by a vote of 107-14, with 52 abstentions) as a member of UNESCO, on October 31, 2011.[17] Ambassador Killion delivered a statement on behalf of the United States expressing "regret" and calling the UNESCO decision "premature"; nevertheless, Ambassador Killion pledged that the United States would "continue our efforts to find ways to support and strengthen the important work of this vital organization."[18]

Ambassador Killion has been an enthusiastic supporter of UNESCO's work in anti-homophobic bullying and Open Educational Resources. Responding to the release of a UNESCO report on homophobic bullying worldwide, he called UNESCO "an essential partner for the United States in the struggle to ensure respect and equality for LGBT persons everywhere."[19] Killion has also championed the potential of Open Educational Resources to transform global education,[20] and, in June 2012, he led the U.S. delegation to the UNESCO-sponsored World Open Educational Resources Congress.[21]

Ambassador Killion successfully recruited prominent Americans such as Forest Whitaker and Herbie Hancock to be UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors and has worked to support their work in peace building[22] and jazz diplomacy.[23] He also facilitated Marcus Miller's nomination as UNESCO Artist for Peace and Spokesperson for the Slave Route Project, including by hosting his Inducation Ceremony.[24]

In July 2012, Ambassador Killion issued a statement[25] expressing U.S. opposition to UNESCO's decision to award the UNESCO-Equatorial Guinea International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences, which was controversially endowed by Equatorial Guinea. UNESCO's Director-General, Irina Bokova, joined Ambassador Killion in opposing the award;[26] the U.S. considers Equatorial Guinea under President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo to be a dictatorship with an egregious record of human rights violations.

Ambassador Killion is credited with brokering, in cooperation with Russia and Israel, a breakthrough agreement on cultural heritage in the Middle East in April 2013.[27] Killion called the deal between Israel and the Palestinians “a critical step forward toward depoliticizing UNESCO, and signals a major shift toward a more constructive approach to cultural heritage issues.”[28] Killion’s ongoing efforts to defend Israel from attack at UNESCO earned him praise from B'nai B'rith, which described Killion’s tenure as being “marked by a series of very important accomplishments” and called him “an extraordinary diplomat and public servant—a man not only of commitment, but of skill and, no less important, of principle.”[29]

When the United States was automatically stripped of its voting rights at UNESCO in November 2013, two years after cutting funding to the organization, Ambassador Killion noted that the United States had been involved in UNESCO since it was founded in 1945 and promised that it would remain involved.[30]

In an interview with CNN's Zain Verjee, Ambassador Killion called the loss of the vote a “handicap”, adding that, “in today’s globalized world, all emerging powers or great powers are fighting for influence at UNESCO.”[31]

Senate Staff Director for U.S. Helsinki Commission[edit]

On 10 April 2014, U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) announced Ambassador Killion's joint appointment as the Senate Staff Director for the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission).

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ambassador". United States Mission to UNESCO. 
  2. ^ "Chargé d’Affaires ad interim". United States Mission to UNESCO.  Retrieved 29 January 2014.
  3. ^ David T. Killion/Permanent Representative/UNESCO, United States Department of State. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
  4. ^ Almanac of the Unelected 2008, 21st ed.: Staff of the U.S. Congress, "David Killion. Bernan Press. Retrieved July 26, 2012. 
  5. ^ Struglinski, Suzanne (2009). Insiders Guide to Key Committee Staff of the U.S. Congress. Washington, DC: Bernan Press. p. 198. 
  6. ^ Bjerga, ed., Alan (2005). The Almanac of the Unelected, 2005, Staff of the U.S. Congress. Washington, DC: Bernan Press. p. 220. 
  7. ^ The Almanac of the Unelected, 2008, Staff of the U.S. Congress. Washington, DC: Bernan Press. 2008. 
  8. ^ "NAFSA". Retrieved 25 September 2012. 
  9. ^ "NAFSA". Retrieved 25 September 2012. 
  10. ^ "United States Withdrawing From UNESCO". Congressional Quarterly Weekly: 3155. December 22, 1984. 
  11. ^ a b http://oig.state.gov/documents/organization/191913.pdf
  12. ^ Cody, Edward (9 September 2009). "Egypt's Farouk Hosni Draws Opposition in Bid to Lead UNESCO". The Washington Post. 
  13. ^ "Correspondence: UNESCO: Who's the Rogue?". American Spectator. Retrieved April 1, 2012. 
  14. ^ Kraus, Don (25 February 2011). "Diplomacy in Action: The U.S., UNESCO & Civil Society". Huffington Post. Retrieved February 25, 2011. 
  15. ^ http://blogs.state.gov/index.php/site/entry/unesco_new_chapter_literacy
  16. ^ http://blogs.state.gov/index.php/site/by_author/dtkillion/
  17. ^ Sherwood, Harriet (November 1, 2011). "US pulls UNESCO Funding after Palestine is granted full membership". Guardian (London). Retrieved July 27, 2012. 
  18. ^ U.S. Mission to UNESCO. "U.S. Statement in Explanation of Vote on Draft Resolution 9.1 Regarding Membership for Palestine in UNESCO". 
  19. ^ http://unesco.usmission.gov/amb-idaho.html
  20. ^ Killion, David (and Sir John Daniel) (4 July 2012). "Are open educational resources the key to global economic growth?". Guardian Professional (London). Retrieved 4 July 2012. 
  21. ^ UNESCO. "World Open Educational Resources Congress". Retrieved June 22, 2012. 
  22. ^ "The International Institute for Peace at Rutgers University, Co-founded by Forest Whitaker, Partners with UNESCO to Combat Urban Violence." U.S. Mission to UNESCO. February 9, 2012.
  23. ^ "UNESCO Kicks Off International Jazz Day, With Help From Herbie and Friends." U.S. Mission to UNESCO. April 27, 2012.
  24. ^ "Marcus Miller Named UNESCO Artist for Peace, Spokesperson of the Slave Route Project." U.S. Mission to UNESCO. July 4, 2013.
  25. ^ United States Mission to UNESCO. "Statement by U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO David Killion on the UNESCO-Equatorial Guinea Prize for Research in the Life Sciences". Retrieved July 13, 2012. 
  26. ^ Sharma, Yojana. "Controversial UNESCO science prize finally awarded". Science & Innovation Policy. Retrieved 18 July 2012. 
  27. ^ Erlanger, Steven (23 April 2013). "Israel and Palestinians Reach Deal on Unesco". The New York Times. 
  28. ^ Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20130423/eu-unesco-israel-palestinians/ |url= missing title (help). 
  29. ^ http://www.bnaibrith.org/5/post/2013/10/bnai-brith-salutes-us-ambassador-to-unesco-following-final-address-to-bodys-executive-board.html
  30. ^ Rubin, Alissa J. (8 November 2013). "U.S. Loses Voting Rights at Unesco". The New York Times. 
  31. ^ "UNESCO freezes U.S. vote". CNN.