Indian American Under Secretary for Human Rights Uzra Zeya Named U.S. Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues
- In her additional role, the Indian American will coordinate U.S. government policies, programs, and projects concerning Tibetan issues.
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has designated Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Uzra Zeya to serve concurrently as the United States Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues. In a Dec. 20 statement, Blinken said the Indian American will take on the important role effective immediately. She will also continue to serve as Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, a position for which she was sworn in on July 14.
In her additional role, Blinken said Zeya will “coordinate U.S. government policies, programs, and projects concerning Tibetan issues, consistent with the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002, as amended by the Tibetan Policy and Support Act of 2020.” She will “work closely with Tibetan cultural, religious, and political leaders, the U.S. Congress, international allies and partners, and civil society representatives on these matters,” he added. Blinken added that Zeya’s designation “demonstrates the Administration’s commitment to advance the human rights of Tibetans, help preserve their distinct heritage, address their humanitarian needs, and meet environmental and water resource challenges of the Tibetan plateau.”
Prior to her appointment as under secretary, Zeya served as president and CEO of the Alliance for Peacebuilding, “a non-partisan global network of more than 130 organizations working in more than 180 countries to end conflict by peaceful means,” according to her State Department profile.
The daughter of immigrants from Bihar, who was once posted in New Delhi during her diplomatic career, had quit the foreign service in 2018 in protest against the policies of then-president Donald Trump. She later wrote in Politico that she left the State Department after not being promoted because she did not pass the Trump administration’s “Breitbart test” due to her race and gender.
During her 27-year Foreign Service career, she has served as deputy chief of mission and charge d’affaires in Paris; principal deputy assistant secretary and acting assistant secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor; chief of staff to the Deputy Secretary of State; political minister-counselor in New Delhi; and deputy executive secretary to Secretaries of State Rice and Clinton. She also served in Syria, Egypt, Oman, Jamaica, and in various policy roles at the Department of State.
She has a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and is the recipient of several State Department Superior Honor and Senior Performance awards, the Presidential Rank Award, and the French Legion d’Honneur.