The Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES) is a bureau within the United States Department of State. The mission of OES is to lead U.S. diplomacy on global environmental, scientific, and health issues, and to advance the President’s environmental, scientific, and health priorities. OES works to protect the environment and promote sustainable development, to ensure the safety of food and drugs, and to promote the peaceful use of the world’s oceans and other shared natural resources. OES also works to ensure that the United States is represented and engaged in international environmental, scientific, and health organizations, and to promote U.S. leadership in international environmental, scientific, and health policy.
Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs
- Monica Medina, Assistant Secretary
- Jonathan J. Moore, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary
- Melissa J. Kehoe, Senior Advisor
- John Thompson, Ph.D., Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environment
- Jonathan Margolis, Ph.D., Deputy Assistant Secretary for Science, Technology, Space, and Health
The Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES) is a functional bureau within the United States Department of State. The Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs coordinates a suite of portfolios related to oceans, environmental, polar, scientific, fisheries, wildlife, conservation, and natural resource and health affairs that affect U.S. foreign policy interests. The Assistant Secretary reports to the Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment.
The bureau is headed by the Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. There has been no Senate-confirmed Assistant Secretary since Kerri-Ann Jones resigned in April 2014. Ambassador Marcia Bernicat currently performs the non-exclusive duties of the office as Senior Bureau Official.
The Oceans, Fisheries, and Polar Affairs’ directorate has two offices dedicated to international oceans issues. The Office of Marine Conservation focuses on international fisheries matters and related problems, and the Office of Oceans and Polar Affairs has primary responsibility for international ocean law and policy, marine pollution, marine mammals, polar affairs, maritime boundaries, and marine science. Deputy Assistant Secretary Benjamin Purser III has led the directorate since September 2020.
The Environment directorate deals with environmental issues, including environmental aspects of international trade and safeguarding hazardous materials requiring multilateral agreements within the Office of Environmental Quality and Transboundary Affairs. The Office of Conservation and Water develops U.S. foreign policy approaches to conserving and managing the world ecosystems and to transboundary water issues. Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary John Thompson, Ph.D. has led the directorate since October 2019.
The Health, Space and Science directorate includes the Office of International Health Affairs which works with U.S. Government agencies to facilitate policy-making regarding international bioterrorism, infectious disease, surveillance and response, environmental health, and health in post-conflict situations. The Office of Space and Advanced Technology handles issues arising from our exploration of space to assure global security regarding this new frontier, and the Office of Science & Technology (S&T) Cooperation promotes the interests of the U.S. science and technology communities in the international policy arena, negotiates framework and other S&T agreements, manages the Department’s Embassy Science fellows program, and takes a leading role in representing U.S. science and technology in multilateral international organizations, such as UNESCO and other UN organizations, APEC, OECD and others. The Health, Space and Science Directorate has been led Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary Jonathan Margolis, Ph.D., since 2011.
President Donald Trump nominated Andrew Lawler to be Assistant Secretary of the bureau of September 8., but the Senate returned the nomination to the President at the close of the 116th Congress and he was not re-nominated. President Joe Biden has nominated Monica Medina for the role; if confirmed she would be the first Assistant Secretary since Kerri-Ann Jones resigned in April 2014.
The Department of State Appropriations Authorization Act became law in October 1973, which led to the establishment of the bureau in 1974. The new bureau assumed responsibility for the negotiation of international environmental and natural resource agreements and treaties with other states. The bureau was created by consolidating the duties of several offices.
- the Office of International Scientific and Technological Affairs;
- the Office of Special Assistant to the Secretary of Fisheries and Wildlife, and Coordinator of Ocean Affairs;
- the Office of the Special Assistant to the Secretary for Population Matters; and
- the Special Assistant to the Secretary for Environmental Affairs.
The bureau has been led by distinguished foreign service officers like Career Ambassador Thomas Pickering and Ambassador Judy Garber, as well as public servants like Ambassador (retired) John Negroponte.
The bureau played a major role negotiating 14 multilateral fisheries treaties since the 1980s and the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and its annexes.
It played a leading role in the creation of the Arctic Council and facilitated its meetings until a permanent secretariat was established in. It helped organize the Our Ocean conference in June 2014 that continues to be held annually and helped bring the Agreement on Port State Measures into force into 2016.
OES has negotiated more than 30 bilateral and multilateral science and technology agreements that promote sustainable development, women in science, and global security. OES and NASA worked together to negotiate intergovernmental agreements that govern the ownership and use of the International Space Station.
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Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources
- Bureau of African Affairs
- Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
- Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
- Bureau of International Organization Affairs
- (United States Mission to the United Nations)
- Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs
- Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs
- Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment
- Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs
- Bureau of Energy Resources
- Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs
- Office of the Chief Economist
- Office of Global Partnerships
- Office of the Science and Technology Advisor to the Secretary
Arms Control and International Security
- Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance
- Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation
- Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
- International Security Advisory Board
Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs
- Bureau of Administration
- Bureau of Budget and Planning
- Bureau of Consular Affairs
- Bureau of Diplomatic Security
- Bureau of Global Talent Management
- Bureau of Information Resource Management
- Bureau of Medical Services
- Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations
- Bureau of the Comptroller and Global Financial Services
- Foreign Service Institute (Office of the Historian)
- Office of Foreign Missions
- Director of Diplomatic Reception Rooms
- Office of Management Strategy and Solutions
- Office of White House Liaison
Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights
- Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations
- Bureau of Counterterrorism
- Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
- Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
- Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
- Office of Global Criminal Justice
- Office of International Religious Freedom
- Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism
- Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
reporting directly to the Secretary
- Bureau of Intelligence and Research
- Bureau of Legislative Affairs
- Office of the Counselor
- Executive Secretariat (Operations Center)
- Office of Foreign Assistance
- Office of Civil Rights
- Office of Inspector General
- Office of the Legal Adviser
- Policy Planning Staff
- (Foreign Affairs Policy Board)
- Secretary’s Open Forum
- Office of the Chief of Protocol
- Office of Global Women’s Issues
- Office of the Ombudsman
- Foreign Service Grievance Board
- Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues
- Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy
- Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs
- Office of the Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS
- Office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation
- Office of the Special Representative for Iran
- Office of the Special Representative for Syria Engagement
- Office of the Special Representative for Venezuela
- Office of the U.S. Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority
- Chief of Staff
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