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June 20, 2017

Senate Should Consider Only Clear, Specific, Narrowly-Tailored AUMF at Hearing

Washington, D.C.—As Congress reviews authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) at a hearing today before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Human Rights First urged legislators to only considering enacting a new AUMF that is clear, specific, and narrowly-tailored. The recommendations were presented in a statement for the record to the committee.

"The executive branch’s continued reliance on the 2001 AUMF for military operations far beyond what Congress originally authorized undermines the legislative branch’s important constitutional role as the branch responsible for the decision to go to war," wrote Human Rights First in its statement. "Continued reliance on outdated and ill-defined war authorizations that blur the line between war and peace undermine national security, U.S. leadership in the world, and human rights both at home and abroad." 

Human Rights First has long-advocated that any new AUMF should include the following:

  • Clearly-defined mission objectives and enemy;
  • Transparency and reporting requirements;
  • Compliance with international law;
  • Repeal or supersede other AUMFs; and,
  • Require reauthorization.

Human Rights First has also developed a detailed analysis supporting these recommendations in a newly released issue brief, which compares a number of AUMF proposals that are being considered. 

The organization notes that over-broad language in the 2001 AUMF, which authorized the use of force against those responsible for the 9/11 attacks, has been stretched to cover the use of force nearly 16 years later against groups that did not even exist in 2001. Such usage undermines human rights protections and the rule of law by enabling an amorphous and indefinite war.

A coalition of human rights, civil liberties, and faith groups also sent a letter to the chair and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee calling for any new AUMF to be considered with appropriate safeguards. “We urge you to ensure…that any new AUMF is clear, specific, tailored to the particular situation for which force is being authorized, and comports with the international law obligations of the United States,” the letter wrote.

For more information or to speak with Human Rights First’s Rita Siemion, contact Corinne Duffy at DuffyC@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3319.