For Immediate Release: January 24, 2013
Washington, DC – Following Senator John Kerry’s confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Human Rights First lauds President Obama’s nominee to become the nation’s 68th Secretary of State for his stated commitment to a robust U.S. leadership abroad rooted in the universal values of freedom. His priority to implement counter-terrorism policies that reflect American values is also important. The organization notes, however, that it is concerned that Senator Kerry did not lay out a coherent strategy to promote human rights around the globe. Specifically, he failed to mention his commitment to continue Secretary Clinton’s initiatives to protect LGBT individuals around the globe, to promote internet freedom for all and to engage civil society in U.S. policymaking.
“Senator Kerry is to be commended for his pledges to promote women’s rights, to advocate for religious freedom, and to maintain U.S. leadership abroad in an ever-change geopolitical environment. We sincerely hope that his broader agenda will include topics not covered today, including internet freedom, LGBT rights, and civil society engagement – priorities that the Obama Administration has held as central to its foreign policy,” said Human Rights First’s Robyn Lieberman. “The task before him is not an easy one. To maintain U.S. credibility as a leader in human rights, the next Secretary of State must ask the hard questions not only in places like Iran and North Korea, but also in nations such as Bahrain and Egypt, where longstanding allegiances have been tested by uprisings against ongoing government abuses and corruption.”
As Senator Kerry noted this morning, “No nation has more opportunity to advance the cause of democracy and no nation is as committed to the cause of human rights as we are. But to protect our nation and make good on our promises, as well as to live up to our ideals and meet the crisis of this moment, it is urgent that we show people in the rest of the world that we can get our business done in an effective and timely way.”
Human Rights First looks forward to working with Senator Kerry, whose confirmation to Secretary of State is expected to happen within days of this morning’s hearing. Human Rights First also thanks members of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee for raising important human rights questions during today’s hearing and for their willingness to work with the next Secretary of State to advance important human rights work.
“Today’s hearing made clear that human rights is not a partisan issue,” said Lieberman. “Senators Rubio, McCain, Cardin, Kaine, and others all raised critical questions related United States leadership on human rights. We are pleased to see so many Senators prioritize human rights issues.”
Human Rights First recently issued a series of blueprints containing practical steps lawmakers and administration officials can take to address some of the most pressing human rights issues in the world today. Many of these documents offer specific recommendations for the Department of State.
For more information or to speak with Lieberman, please contact Brenda Bowser Soder at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-370-3323.