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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

|

SEPTEMBER 2015

65

AFSA NEWS

Democracy Promotion: The Greatest Job in the World

THE MARK PALMER AWARD FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF DEMOCRACY

ANDREW YOUNG

In 1998, Foreign Service

Officer Andrew Young penned

an article titled “A Prayer for

Burma” for inclusion in the

second edition of the Ameri-

can Foreign Service Asso-

ciation’s guide to life in the

Foreign Service,

Inside a U.S.

Embassy

(Foreign Service

Books, 2003).

He was Embassy Ran-

goon’s political officer at

the time, and offered the

following reflection: “I’ve met

the bravest people in my life

here. The Burmese struggle

on for democracy despite the

repression, despite setbacks.

Here the State Department

wages a righteous fight

for justice. Some day the

Burmese people will win their

freedom. I pray that change

comes soon, comes peace-

fully and comes before more

lives are destroyed.”

It would be another 12

years before the country

would see transition from its

nearly six decades of military

rule to a quasi-civilian gov-

ernment.

Young is the recipient of

the first-ever Mark Palmer

Award for the Advancement

of Democracy, established

in honor of the late Ambas-

sador Palmer, a lifelong

champion of democracy and

human rights.

One might argue that an

FSO’s success in advancing

democracy can be measured

by the number of autocratic

feathers he or she manages

to ruffle. By that standard,

Young takes the prize.

In Burma, Young irritated

a slew of ruling generals in

the State Law and Order

Restoration Council by aiding

those advocating a peace-

ful transition to democracy,

such as Nobel Laureate Aung

San Suu Kyi and others in the

National League for Democ-

racy.

The former Kim Jong Il

called the passage of the

ADVANCE Democracy Act of

2007—legislation institution-

alizing democracy promo-

tion at State, which Young

helped draft—an immoral

interference in North Korea’s

domestic affairs.

And in his current assign-

ment as deputy chief of

mission in war-torn Mali, a

once democratic stronghold,

Young’s work to foster peace

negotiations between gov-

ernment officials and rebel

leaders is presenting serious

roadblocks to al-Qaida-linked

extremists in the region.

For Young, democracy

and human rights promotion

is a moral calling: “Being a

Foreign Service officer is the

greatest job in the world!

Where else do we have

the privilege of being able

to serve our country and

promote our core values and

to make the world a little bit

better?”

Arguably, the fight for

democracy in Burma, Mali

and so many places around

the world continues on. The

flip side of the marker of

success measured by the

number of one’s autocratic

foes, is the number of one’s

friends who are democracy

heavyweights.

When Suu Kyi was pre-

sented with the Congressio-

nal Medal of Honor in 2012

for her peaceful struggle

against military rule, she per-

sonally invited Young to sit in

the first row along with other

notable allies, including for-

mer Secretaries of State and

Defense Madeleine Albright

and William Cohen.

Young joined Embassy

Bamako as DCM in July 2013,

but has served as chargé

d’affaires since 2014. His

other tours include Wash-

ington, D.C., South Korea,

France, New Zealand, Burma,

India and Hong Kong.

n

FSOAndrewYoung recalls the many champions of freedom he’s met

throughout his career.

AFSA/JOAQUINSOSA

Young poses with friends at the June 9 ceremony.

AFSA/JOAQUINSOSA

AFSA EXEMPLARY PERFORMANCE AWARDS