As NBC’s Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent and anchor of the eponymous MSNBC program, Andrea Mitchell has had a front-row seat to Secretary Hillary Clinton’s world tour as the nation’s top diplomat and throughout her political career. On Clinton’s last day at the State Department, Mitchell looks back at some of Clinton’s most significant moments yet.
1. Clinton declares “women’s rights are human rights” at the UN’s Beijing women’s conference: September 6, 1995
As Hillary Clinton leaves the State Department, she has made sure that President Obama signed a memorandum institutionalizing the global engagement on women’s issues as part of U.S. diplomacy. This is a signature issue for Clinton, as is her ability to work the bureaucracy and make sure it outlasts her own term as secretary of state. In fact, her first high-profile moment on the world stage focused on women’s rights–when she went to the Fourth World Conference on Women on September 5, 1995, and said: “If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights, once and for all.”
The Chinese were not happy. The next day, in a monsoon-like rain, they blocked the delegation and small traveling press corps from entering one of her major speeches at Huairou, a conference setting 35 miles outside of Beijing.
2. Clinton is welcomed in Tahrir Square, epicenter of Egypt’s revolution: March 16, 2011
There was so much hope and optimism about the Arab Spring, despite some clear warning signs that establishing the rule of law and equal rights for women, among others, would not be easy–even though women had played a major role in the uprising that forced Hosni Mubarak out of office. It took a lot of persuading to get security teams comfortable with this walk through Tahrir Square on Wednesday March 16, 2011, just one month after the end of Mubarak’s rule. Secretary Clinton was in Egypt for two days, talking to all sectors in civil society.
Clinton said “There is so much to be done and the United States is ready to help in every way possible to translate what happened in Tahrir Square to a new reality for Egypt.” Egyptians were shaking her hand, they were shouting, “Thank you for coming.”
3. Clinton visits Myanmar with Aung San Suu Kyi, December 2, 2011
The Nobel Laureate had been an icon for Clinton for decades. It was an emotional moment when she became the first secretary of state and the highest-ranking American to visit the country in a half century. The two called for the release of more political prisoners, establishment of the rule of law and an end to internal conflicts that have led to accusations of war crimes.
“Democracy is the goal,” Clinton said in Myanmar. “That has been the goal from the very beginning. And yet we know that it has been a long, very difficult path that has been followed. We do see openings today….The United States wants to be a partner with Burma. We want to work with you, as you further democratization.”
4. The Transfer of Remains Ceremony to honor the four Americans killed in Benghazi, Libya; September 14, 2012
If there was a nadir for Clinton’s term, it was clearly the memorial for Ambassador Chris Stevens and the three other Americans who had been killed in Benghazi on September 14, 2012, three days after the assault on the U.S mission that remains the most serious blot on the State Department’s record under her leadership.
As “Nearer My God to Thee” was played, it was eerily reminiscent of a similar, deeply sad Andrews ceremony in August of 1998, when then-First Lady Hillary Clinton accompanied President Clinton to receive the bodies of ten Americans among the hundreds killed in the terror bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
You can catch Andrea Mitchell Reports weekdays on MSNBC at 1pm E.T.
For more of Secretary Clinton’s travels, check out our slideshow below: