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July 08, 2019

State Commission on Unalienable Rights Must Focus on Reversing Harm Done by Administration

Washington, D.C.—In response to Secretary Pompeo’s announcement that he is launching a Commission on Unalienable Rights at the State Department, Human Rights First’s Rob Berschinski, who was formerly deputy assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights, and labor, issued the following statement:

Given the way in which the Commission was conceived, without the input or awareness of the State Department’s human rights experts or members of Congress, many in the human rights community are skeptical of its motives. Secretary Pompeo has asserted that the body is meant to focus on “principles” rather than “policy,” but that’s a blurry distinction at best. The principles under which the United States advances human rights are well-established, and much of the criticism from human rights advocates concerning this administration centers on its violations of those rules. Each time the president attacks America’s free press as an “enemy of the people,” or the administration obscures its role in separating children from their parents, or selectively highlights Iran’s poor human rights record while downplaying that of Saudi Arabia, U.S. credibility is undermined.

We look forward to working with Commission Chair Mary Ann Glendon and the other commissioners announced today. We urge them to focus their work on advising Secretary Pompeo to reverse the harmful rhetoric and actions undertaken by this administration that have undermined U.S. leadership, provided support to murderous dictators, and weakened the international human rights movement.

For more information or to speak with Berschinski, contact Christopher Plummer at [email protected] or 202-370-3310.