A senior assistant to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti will be named the US State Department’s first special envoy to link local governments to national foreign policy, the US State Department announced Monday.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken has appointed Nina Hachigian as the country’s first special representative for subnational diplomacy, according to a statement saying it would “fundamentally strengthen the Department’s ties with our cities and communities.”
“Subnational” diplomacy refers to government entities at the local level: cities and counties rather than nations.
Hachigian, 55, has been Los Angeles Deputy Mayor for International Affairs under Garcetti since 2017. She was previously a State Department diplomat assigned to the main Asian alliance, Assn. of the nations of Southeast Asia, or ASEAN.
The idea behind the new office, officials say, is to link issues with local impact, such as climate change, to international programs, sharing information, ideas and money.
“Communities, cities and states are putting forward some of the most innovative and creative ideas to address many of the global challenges we face,” Hachigian said in an interview prior to his appointment. “It is imperative that we in the State Department harness the ingenuity of our local communities as we strive to build a foreign policy for all Americans.”
US officials say the new office is intended to further link foreign policy to middle-class America, a goal President Biden has declared since his election. Presumably it is also a way to protect foreign policy from those who would argue that domestic issues should come first at the expense of looking abroad.
“A central task for us,” said Hachigian, “will bring the benefits of our foreign policy to the local level.”
Blinken said in his statement that US cities, counties and states are “at the forefront of many of our most pressing global issues, including climate change, economic justice and democratic renewal.”
For example, when former President Trump attempted to pull back from efforts to combat climate change, it was local or regional entities, such as California, that persisted in adopting programs to contain waste, pollution and l explosion in the destruction of the climate.
“The cities and states of the United States are incubators of innovative and innovative ideas that address global challenges, and the department should leverage these solutions,” said Blinken. Hachigian’s new office will lead and coordinate these efforts, she added.
His appointment comes when Garcetti’s appointment to a diplomatic post languished in the Senate for months. Biden appointed Garcetti in July 2021 as the United States ambassador to India.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved his appointment in January, but the outgoing mayor’s confirmation has not yet seen a spoken vote and it is unclear whether he will.
The 50-50 Senate is on hiatus until after Election Day, and Congress will return with a number of other priorities in the lame duck period, including a government funding package, a marriage bill. same sex and electoral reform legislation.
Times staff writer Nolan D McCaskill contributed to this report.