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Home / Press Release / Coalition Letter Rejects Report Issued by State Department’s Commission on Unalienable Rights
July 30, 2020

Coalition Letter Rejects Report Issued by State Department’s Commission on Unalienable Rights

WASHINGTON — Human Rights First today, in partnership with over 220 human rights, faith-based, civil liberties, professional, academic, and social justice organizations and experts, rejected in strong terms the draft report issued by the State Department’s “Commission on Unalienable Rights.” The Commission was established by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in May 2019 and tasked with differentiating between what Pompeo has labeled “unalienable” and “ad hoc” rights. 

In a public letter organized by Human Rights First and submitted to the Commission as official comment on the report, signatories expressed extreme concern that the report, which was released on July 16, 2020, supports the prioritization of property rights and religious liberty over other internationally recognized human rights, and will serve as a pretext for policies that undermine human rights globally, including the protection of LGBTQI+ rights and sexual and reproductive rights.

Upon release of today's letter, Human Rights First's Rob Berschinski released the following statement:

The Commission on Unalienable Rights should have never existed. It has produced a draft report responsive to a problem that does not exist, and that will ultimately prove harmful to the very people that it purports to support. 

We should see the Commission’s report for what it is: a politicized effort to unilaterally re-write the United States’ human rights obligations in favor of Secretary Pompeo’s personal and religious views. Pompeo has already made clear that he cares little for the views of human rights activists around the world, many of whom strongly oppose his Commission. Thank goodness that neither Pompeo nor the Commission has the ability to unilaterally decide for the United States or the world what are and are not human rights.

Human Rights First has previously expressed deep skepticism of the Commission and urged that it be disbanded. Berschinski and other experts have written on how the body will empower human rights violating governments around the world.