Background on the candidate’s statements, positions, and record on diplomacy, global development, and America’s role the world

On U.S. global leadership:

  • Vice President Joe Biden has long positioned himself as a champion for America’s global leadership and strong proponent of diplomacy and development stating, “What does the absence of American leadership cost us in the world today? If the United States fails to lead, who will take our place?”
  • He has praised the importance of leveraging America’s civilian tools of diplomacy and development within our national security framework saying, “America needs to be there to lead the way. This rebalance requires all elements of our power: diplomatic and developmental, as well as defense.”
  • As a longtime member of Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a two-term Vice President, he has a long record on foreign policy, including on issues of diplomacy and development.

On global development:

  • While serving in the Obama Administration, Vice President Biden was instrumental in several major global development initiatives, such as Power Africa and Feed the Future.
  • As chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he fought to ensure strong funding for civilian-led tools of global engagement. In 2008, he led a major bipartisan effort with Senator Richard Lugar that successfully restored critical funds for development assistance and diplomacy, restoring $4 billion in funding to the Fiscal Year 2009 International Affairs Budget.
  • He has consistently praised the national security and economic benefits of foreign assistance, saying, “At just over 1 percent of our federal budget, American investment in [foreign aid] is one of the best bargains for American taxpayers.”
  • As a senator, he authored the International Violence Against Women Act to integrate efforts to end domestic violence into U.S. foreign assistance programs.
  • Biden has called for the United States to “lead the world” in addressing global climate change because it “puts our national security at risk by leading to regional instability that will require U.S… relief activities and could make areas more vulnerable to terrorist activities.”
  • Biden has called on the U.S. to work with Africa to “prioritize economic growth by strengthening trading relationships…Empower African women because… empowered women are key to development” In addition, he has spoken out on urbanization and helping “African cities plan for their growth in terms of critical sectors like energy access.”

On global health:

  • In a recent statement, Vice President Biden called for U.S. leadership and humanitarian assistance in response to COVID-19 and global health emergencies, saying: “In times of global crisis, America should lead. We should be the first to offer help to people who are hurting or in danger. That’s who we are. That’s who we’ve always been. And, in the midst of this deadly pandemic that respects no borders, the United States should take steps to offer what relief we can to those nations hardest hit by this virus…To stop this pandemic effectively, every country on earth will need to work together. We must address COVID-19 outbreaks wherever they occur, because as long as this virus is spreading anywhere in the world, it is a danger to public health everywhere.”
  • In a recent speech on tackling Coronavirus, Vice President Biden called for drawing on the “incredible capability of the U.S. Agency for International Development and our State Department to assist vulnerable nations in detecting and treating coronavirus.” Noting the importance of global health security, Biden added that the U.S. would “will never fully solve this problem if we’re unwilling to look beyond our own borders and engage fully with the rest of the world. A disease that starts any place in the planet can get on a plane to any city on earth within a few hours.”
  • Vice President Biden recently released a plan to prepare for future global health threats, noting that “The only way to stop the threat from infectious diseases like COVID-19 is to detect them early and contain them effectively in communities around the world.” The plan, which includes re-establishing the National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense and establishing a new Assistant Secretary of State to oversee an office focused on Global Health Security and Diplomacy, would also direct the U.S. Agency for International Development to “mobilize an international response that assists vulnerable nations in detecting, treating, and minimizing the spread…”
  • In 2018, he co-authored an op-ed stating that “Now is not the time to cut off AIDS funding” and called PEPFAR “one of the most successful, effective, and world-changing initiatives the United States has ever led.”
  • On the importance of U.S. leadership in tackling global health threats, he asked earlier this year in a speech, “Who will lead to solve the health crises, the outbreak of disease in a highly contagious world?”
  • During the 2014 Ebola oubreak, Biden pointed to how the “Centers for Disease Control, USAID and our military have taken charge of that world epidemic” adding that “we are organizing the international response to this largest epidemic in history.”
  • He also oversaw the 2009 PEPFAR reauthorization, praising the initiative as President George W. Bush’s “greatest achievement as president.”
  • As the Foreign Relations Committee Chairman in the Senate, Biden sponsored the Biden-Lugar Global AIDS Bill in 2008 telling the Senate floor, “Millions of people around the world have been given hope and so we have to sustain and build on this progress.”

On global economic engagement:

  • As Vice President, he underscored the link between global economic engagement and protecting American jobs stating, “There is a direct connection between America’s engagement in the world and our economic prosperity at home.”
  • He has noted that one of the responsibilities of government is “breaking down some of the barriers” that prevent American businesses from competing in the global marketplace saying, “As far as exports are concerned, that means seeking new opportunities and opening new markets.”
  • Biden helped launch global economic engagement initiatives during the Obama Administration in the Asia-Pacific region, stating that “some of the fastest growing growth rates in the world are within that region” and that those emerging markets “will shape the character of the entire global economy.”

On aid to the Northern Triangle:

  • In 2014, Vice President Biden led the Alliance for Prosperity to develop and implement a plan to address the root causes of migration in the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
  • More recently he called for “renewed focus” on the Northern Triangle of Central America, stating that “Unless we address the root causes driving migration from this region, any solutions focused solely on border protection and immigration enforcement will be insufficient.”
  • He has called for more investment in the Northern Triangle crisis saying, “I’d surge immediately billions of dollars’ worth of help to the region… go to the root cause of why people are leaving in the first place.”

Relevant Links

In 2013, the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition honored Vice President Biden at its annual Tribute Dinner.