Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights – Uzra Zeya
Department of State

Uzra Zeya

Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights

Leads the State Department’s efforts to combat threats to civilian security, assisting foreign countries with building “more democratic, secure, stable, and just societies.”

Uzra Zeya is the Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights.

Ms. Zeya had a nearly 30-year diplomatic career, including as Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy Paris from 2014-2017 as Acting Assistant Secretary and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor from 2012-2014.

On American leadership: After being nominated by President Biden, Zeya said, “In my 25+ years as a diplomat, I learned that America’s greatest strength is the power of our example, diversity & democratic ideals.” (source)

On diplomacy: In a CFR study co-published with Jon Finer on revitalizing the State Department, Zeya affirmed that “diplomacy remains the best tool the United States has to advance its foreign policy interests.” (source)

On diversity in diplomacy: Writing on the need for broader ethnic and gender representation in America’s foreign service, Zeya asserts “A less diverse diplomatic corps, especially at the top level, undercuts American national security by… contradicting the example of America as a champion of equality and opportunity for all.” (source)

On bipartisan foreign policymaking: Praising the passing of the Global Fragility Act, Zeya wrote, “In a moment of heightened domestic polarization and geopolitical uncertainty, we must demand bipartisan cooperation in solving our most vexing U.S. foreign policy challenges.”

On ending extreme poverty: In a 2019 Devex article on Congress and U.S. foreign policy, Zeya writes,To advance longstanding U.S. foreign policy priorities of ending extreme poverty and promoting international peace and security, the U.S. must improve its approaches, tools, and capacities for breaking through the pernicious cycle of fragility.” (source)

On peacebuilding: During a 2019 Brookings panel discussion on foreign policy and national security, Zeya laid forth her vision of peacebuilding: “The answer is prevention. What’s interesting to me is we’re seeing emerging, I think, a bipartisan consensus toward a paradigm shift of smart power, a full-spectrum effort of peacebuilding. What I would call bringing in development, bringing in humanitarian relief, bringing in human rights advocacy, civil society support, capacity building, all towards smart, preventative action that heads off conflict and resolves conflict.” (source)

On conflict resolution: Advocating for the passage of the Youth, Peace and Security act in an article co-written by Shamil Idriss, Zeya states “By partnering with young leaders, the United States can address the violent conflicts that pose the gravest dangers to American security and prosperity.” (source)