A new horizon in the United States

21 January 2021

The assumption of office by Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the new President and Vice-President of the United States marks a significant turning point for the country and is a welcome moment for the world. Democracy in the United States has delivered a new course, in which the people once again have reaffirmed long held values and principles upon which that nation was built. At this crucial time during which the world is facing unprecedented challenges, the new administration is clearly focused on dealing with priorities recognised by the majority of its people and that are also present today on the agendas of many countries and governments around the globe.

Today’s most important priorities converge on combatting and neutralising the virus that has so far ended the lives of over 2 million people, the recovery of national economies, halting the destruction of the environment, implementing humane responses to migration crises, countering racism and discrimination, promoting gender equality, the resolution of conflicts and securing peace and, above all, strengthening democracy and its institutions at a time when they are under threat by populist and authoritarian ideas in different parts of the world.

The executive orders signed by President Biden on the very day he took office, which we strongly welcome, reflect his commitment to these crucial issues and are in stark contrast to his predecessor whose policy was characterised by insularity, hostility and mistrust. They highlight his understanding that only with a common approach will the nations of the world be able to overcome the many global challenges that humanity faces.

The path he has chosen, one of searching for common agreement through multilateralism, is well reflected in his internationally widely applauded decisions to rejoin the World Health Organization and the Paris Climate Accord.

In the battle to prevent catastrophic climate change, President Biden's executive order to rejoin the Paris Accord is a hugely significant move at a time when our planet is facing a climate emergency, and when progress on reducing emissions to limit global warming has been hampered not only by the withdrawal from the agreement by the United States, but also the delay to COP26 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.  This year is therefore a vital moment for the new US administration and the rest of the world to re-evaluate their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and strengthen their commitment to new and existing plans for emissions reductions.

The global battle to contain and overcome the Covid-19 pandemic is also an urgent priority and one which will be aided by the commitment by President Biden to rejoin the World Health Organization. The pandemic will continue to be a threat and a problem for all countries as it continues to spread in different parts of the world. The announcement that President Biden will bring the US into COVAX is therefore particularly welcome, as it will enable greater access to vaccines for countries regardless of income levels.

The SI welcomes the announcement that the discriminatory travel ban enacted by the former president in 2017 in order to target predominantly Muslim countries will be repealed as well as the announcement to halt construction of the wall, regularise the situation of over 11 million undocumented migrants in the country and that of the so-called ‘dreamers’.

We equally look forward once more to the role of the US as a fully engaged partner for peace, defending human rights globally and prioritising international development after four years of aggressive and threatening rhetoric and concerted efforts to slash development funding. A matter of particular importance is the Middle East, where the one-sided and transactional approach of the previous administration has severely damaged the prospects for a two-state solution and jeopardised long-term peace. In a positive step, President Biden has reiterated his support for the two-state solution and pledged to restore US aid and development funding to the West Bank and Gaza.

The US continues to have an extremely significant global influence in the economic, global and cultural spheres and the consequences of its decisions are felt far beyond its borders. Long-term success for President Biden requires more than simply reversing the worst policies of his predecessor and there are many global challenges ahead that may require the kind of consensus-building that has been severely lacking over the last four years. The Socialist International is encouraged by the early commitments and actions of President Biden and will, together with its member parties, offer its support to multilateral initiatives that are in line with the aims and principles of the social democratic family. We will continue to work for a progressive, democratic and internationalist agenda that can thrive on the global stage.