Washington, DC – Foreign Policy for America is deeply saddened by the loss of Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Arriving in the United States as an eleven-year-old refugee following the Second World War, Secretary Albright left an indelible mark on American history, serving as Ambassador to the United Nations and our country’s first female Secretary of State. Through her public service, her resolute optimism, and her deep commitment to democratic values, she inspired the world.
As Ambassador to the UN and later Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright powerfully represented America’s highest values. She knew personally the impact of communism and fascism and was an unflinching advocate for the spread of democratic governance.
In her time as America’s top diplomat, Secretary Albright deftly led American foreign policy through an era of transition, achieving significant gains on behalf of the American people. She was instrumental in brokering the historic Wye River Memorandum between Israeli and Palestinian leadership. Secretary Albright led negotiations with North Korea to curb their nuclear program, becoming the highest-ranking western diplomat to meet with North Korea’s leader. She played a pivotal role in promoting the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change and creating the foundations of a global movement for environmental protection. Her tireless diplomacy was instrumental in halting the ethnic cleansing of Kosovars. During her tenure as Secretary of State, Secretary Albright prioritized empowerment of women and girls, establishing women’s rights as an integral objective of U.S. foreign policy.
In her post-government life, Secretary Albright remained a tireless champion for principled American leadership. She was generous with her time and took pride in helping countless women follow in her footsteps. As Chair of the National Democratic Institute and Professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, she guided generations of foreign policy practitioners to recognize the power of the United States to make the world safer, more just, and more humane. She called attention to the supreme importance of engaging Americans in the policy process as a vital aspect of our democracy.
With deep sadness, but also immense gratitude, we mark Secretary Albright’s passing.
“Madeleine Albright’s life was the embodiment of the American dream,” said Foreign Policy for America Board Chair Lionel C. Johnson. “She came to this country as a refugee from tyranny. And during decades of unparalleled public service, Madeleine was a champion of democracy, freedom, and equality. She fervently believed in the imperative of U.S. leadership in global affairs, and we will miss her keen intellect, historical perspective, passion, and wit in foreign policy. For me, Madeleine was a generous and loving friend, mentor, and colleague.”
“As a woman, I was able to serve as a diplomat because of the many women before me who refused to accept the impediments put in their way,” said FP4A board member Ambassador Laura Kennedy. “Madeleine Albright was a giant in those ranks.”
“Secretary Albright was not only a remarkable Secretary of State, but also a remarkable former Secretary of State,” said FP4A board member Dr. Stephen Grand. “For the last two decades, she committed countless hours and energy to numerous DC think tanks and nonprofits, all with the aim of improving US foreign policy. A child refugee during WWII, she believed it essential that America exercise principled leadership in the world.”
“Discussions of America’s role in the world all too often traffic in abstractions: order, equilibrium, and engagement, to name but a few,” said FP4A board member Ali Wyne. “One of the most illustrious diplomats in our nation’s history, Madeleine Albright urged U.S. officials to speak instead in ‘human terms’ that make clear how America’s actions abroad affect the daily lives of its citizens. That counsel of hers should shape the thinking and guide the conduct of every U.S. foreign policy practitioner, present and future. Both the life that Secretary Albright lived and the diplomacy that she conducted will prove uniquely enduring inspirations.”