Tillerson Plans to Abolish Most Special Envoys

Most of the United States’ special envoys will be abolished as part of the State Department overhaul, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Congress on Monday, several news outlets have reported.

His letter says 30 of the current 66 envoys or “special representatives” will stay, as the rest of the envoys, their staffs and budgets will be absorbed into other offices or combined with other positions.

In the letter, first reported by CNN, Tillerson notes that 66 envoys or similar positions exist at the department and that some have outlived their purpose. In many cases, the Secretary of State argues that existing State Department bureaus will be able to handle the same duties in a more efficient way.

The positions that Tillerson proposes cutting include ones that deal withclimate change, international labor affairs, cyber issues, rights for the disabled, implementation of the Iran nuclear deal, global youth issues, and the Northern Ireland conflict.
The move has long been called for by think tanks, lawmakers and the diplomats’ union. But it has attracted new scrutiny in the Trump administration amid plans to drastically cut the budget, The Washington Post reports.

In several cases, such as that of the U.S. special envoy for Syria, the title will be removed, but another official will keep performing same or similar functions. In other cases, such as closing the Guantanamo Bay prison, the issue is a not a priority for the Trump administration, and it’s unlikely the same functions will be pursued.

Several positions would continue to exist in name, but the title will be held by someone who already holds another position — a “dual-hatting.” There are some envoy positions that Tillerson has signaled that he wants to keep, including one dedicated to promoting the human rights of the LGBT community abroad and one devoted to global women’s issues, Politico reports.

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