Monday, May 18, 2015

Advisory Commission Questions Closing of American Centers

via JB

We're closed sign
(Artaxerxes, Wikimedia Commons)
17 May 2015. In a new white paper, the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy expressed concerns about the scheduled closing of 21 American centers over the next 10 years due to security requirements. The commission, a bipartisan panel created by Congress and appointed by the President, published the document on 5 May, which is available on its State Department Web page.
The report notes that as many as 21 of 32 American Centers are candidates for closing due to requirements of the Secure Embassy Construction and Counterterrorism Act of 1999 that calls for all U.S. agencies in a country be co-located on U.S. embassy, consular, or annex compounds.

The commission notes the 21 centers are located in key urban centers such as New Delhi, Shanghai, Jerusalem, and Mexico City, where lack of public outreach in these spaces weakens posts’ abilities to fully understand and shape developments impacting U.S. national security and the international system.
In addition, says the commission, 8 American centers closed in the past 10 years, and the pace of closures seems to be accelerating. The report offers 4 recommmendations urging State Department to reconsider the blanket policy and study the security situation in individual cases, as well as for Congress to enact a “sense of Congress” to keep American centers open and accessible.

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