UNITED NATIONS -- Response was mostly muted Wednesday among Latin American and Caribbean delegations after the announcement that U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice will soon leave her United Nations post to become President Barack Obama’s National Security Adviser.
In July, when the U.S. assumes the presidency of the Security Council, Samantha Power, a former senior member of the White House national security team, will replace Rice at the U.N., Obama announced.
Guatemala ambassador Gert Rosenthal, a fellow member of the Security Council, gave Rice “high marks” as ambassador.
“I cannot speak for all Latin America, but for my own part I can tell you that we will miss Susan,” Rosenthal told The Miami Herald. “She always had a broader vision regarding the Security Council’s impact on the policy goals trying to be met, and on taking on board the positions of other countries in order to achieve consensus.”
Ambassador Marita Perceval of Argentina, another Security Council member, praised Rice’s “spirit of openness and transparency.”
“She has always had a democratic attitude,” Perceval said. “We’ve had differences but we prioritized our coincidences on issues such as non-proliferation, gender equality, fight against impunity, human rights, protection of civilians, humanitarian issues, counter terrorism, among others.”
“I will not miss her as I’m certain that we will meet very frequently,” she added. “I really hope so.”
The praise for Rice’s work is likely to be shared by others on the Security Council but not broadly in the region, where her impact has been limited, says an expert on the Americas.
“I’m not aware that [Rice] has taken major action or worked through the U.N. on Latin America and the Caribbean,” said Eric Farnsworth, head of the Washington office of the Americas Society/Council of Americas, a think tank on political, social and economic topics affecting the region.
“She does not have much of a profile and it’s not been the top priority,” Farnsworth said.
Issues before the U.N., including the Cuba embargo and scrutiny of Venezuela’s recent presidential election results, were blips in Rice’s tenure. Achieving tougher sanctions on Iran and North Korea, and an elusive consensus on the ongoing civil war in Syria, have dominated Rice’s U.N. portfolio.
In November, the U.S. mission was among the few delegations to vote against a General Assembly resolution urging the lifting of the decades-long embargo on Cuba. Support for the resolution was the broadest ever, with only two member states joining the U.S. in opposition, and two abstentions.
“Our sanctions policy toward Cuba is just one of the tools in our overall effort to encourage respect for the human rights and basic freedoms to which the United Nations itself is committed,” said U.S. Ambassador Ron Godard, senior advisor on western hemisphere affairs, explaining the U.S. position on the Cuba resolution.
Rice, 48, will take over from National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, who resigned.
“I want to thank my remarkable colleagues at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations,” Rice said after Obama’s announcement
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon congratulated Rice on her appointment.
“The Secretary General has benefitted greatly from her support and counsel,” he said in a statement. “The United Nations as a whole benefitted from her commitment to strong U.S. engagement with the organization as the world’s principal forum for addressing key global challenges through cooperative and multilateral solutions.”