LOS ANGELES — U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power used her first public speech Saturday night to urge young activists to demand results and criticized the U.N. and red tape-mired bureaucracies that don’t always prioritize progress.
Power told the Fourth Estate Leadership Summit at UCLA that ideology and entrenched methods sometimes get in the way of the work of the U.N., but praised those who get results and focus on problem-solving.
“Bureaucracies are built. Positions become entrenched. And while the United Nations has done tremendous good in the world, there are times when the organization has lost its way, when politics and ideology get in the way of impact,” she said.
The remarks came during the closing ceremonies of the four-day conference for high school and college students created by advocacy group Invisible Children, a group that has brought international focus on the brutality of fugitive warlord Joseph Kony in Africa.
Last year, Invisible Children released a popular online video highlighting his army’s crimes, depicting Kony to many who had never heard of him as a cruel warlord who is accused of using boys as fighters and girls as sex slaves.
Power praised the organization’s success in distributing fliers teaching Kony’s army to defect and building six radio stations that reach an area of more than 29,000 square miles (75,110 sq. kilometers).
Recent reports from watchdog organizations have urged expansions of programs that help defection from Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army.
Power told students that she was drawn to human rights struggles when she read about the ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Bosnia, which led her to become a war correspondent.
“Today, ordinary citizens don’t just advocate for change and action, they force change and take action themselves,” Power said.
The 42-year-old former foreign policy adviser to President Barack Obama was sworn in earlier this month after an overwhelming approval of her nomination.
She is the youngest-ever head of the U.S. mission. She called on young people to avoid feeling overwhelmed by grim news from the world.
Power succeeds Susan Rice, who is now the president’s national security adviser.