When Samantha Power, the United States' ambassador to the United Nations since 2012, hands over the keys to the US Mission to the UN, it will be to another woman.
President-elect Donald Trump on Friday named South Carolina governor Nikki Haley to be his UN ambassador, a surprising choice that some are chalking up more to politics than her aptitude for the role, given her lack of foreign policy experience. (After being confirmed, her governorship will be taken up by early Trump supporter Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster.)
"When the President believes you have a major contribution to make to the welfare of our nation, and to our nation's standing in the world, that is a calling that is important to heed," Haley said in a statement released on Friday.
Once at the United Nations, her time will be in high demand as one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, who have the power to veto any decision that the body charged with international peace and security could make. It's a lot of power for someone who's overseas experience thus far has been limited to trade promotion trips to Europe.
But Haley will be the fifth woman to represent the US at the United Nations, should she be confirmed, and the third in a row. That's five more than any other permanent member of the UN Security Council — neither France, the United Kingdom, Russia, nor China have ever had a woman as their main diplomat at the UN headquarters in New York.
The issue extends beyond the permanent members. When Haley takes her place behind the United States' placard in the Security Council chamber this January, she'll be the lone woman among 14 men. That's a reversion to the norm from the high point in 2014 when a third of the 15-member Security Council — five countries — were represented by women.
Just how much influence Haley will actually wield from New York is still — like much of the Trump administration — up in the air. It can be assumed for now that the position will remain a Cabinet-level post; it was raised to that position under Bill Clinton, dropped from the Cabinet during the George W. Bush years, and elevated again by Barack Obama. (Trump, whose relationship with the UN has yo-yo-ed over the years, has yet to give any indication that Haley, whose role was announced before his eventual Secretary of State nominee, will not be a part of his Cabinet.)
It can be a position to lobby hard for foreign policy goals, as seen in 2011 when then-Ambassador Susan Rice pressed for the US to intervene in Libya. But it can also be disconnected from decision-making in Washington, leaving the ambassador out in the cold.
Also up in the air: what her relationship with the men of the Council will be like, particularly Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin. Churkin, who has been at the UN for a decade now, is known for his combative style, particularly his blow-for-blow relationship with Power and Rice. Given Trump's desire to change the US's relationship with Moscow, the sparks seem less likely to fly between Churkin and Haley. But if they do, the governor may want to turn to the women who have proceeded her for advice on how to handle the loquacious Russian.