U.S. Secretary Of State Pompeo Announces Commission On Unalienable Rights, Raising Concern Among Some Groups, Lawmakers

Associated Press: Trump administration reviews human rights’ role in U.S. policy
“The Trump administration said Monday that it will review the role of human rights in American foreign policy, appointing a commission expected to elevate concerns about religious freedom and abortion…” (Tucker, 7/8).

Deutsche Welle: U.S. sets up commission for human rights advice
“U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking at the State Department on Monday, announced the creation of a new, 10-person commission to advise him on human rights issues. The Commission on Unalienable Rights will be led by Mary Ann Glendon, a Harvard law professor, former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, and staunch abortion opponent…” (7/8).

The Guardian: Trump administration to review ‘role of human rights in public policy’
“…The State Department downplayed concerns over the panel’s influence on women’s issues or gay rights, stating those were domestic issues and outside of the commission’s current purview. The Trump administration has, however, come under fire for reimposing and expanding restrictions on U.S. [global health] foreign aid to [international] groups that discuss or provide abortion services…” (Siddiqui, 7/8).

New York Times: New Human Rights Panel Raises Fears of a Narrowing U.S. Advocacy
“…The announcement, along with a blunt commentary by Mr. Pompeo that was published in the Wall Street Journal on Sunday, raised worries among human rights advocates and Democratic lawmakers that Mr. Pompeo is moving to curtail State Department advocacy for some rights, particularly ones related to women’s health and reproduction and gay and transgender issues. Some House Democrats are pushing a measure that would block State Department funding from being used for the commission, which falls under the agency’s policy planning office…” (Wong/Sullivan, 7/8).

POLITICO: Mike Pompeo unveils panel to examine ‘unalienable rights’
“…House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel [D-N.Y.] said in a statement Monday that the new panel amounted to an end-run around established structures within the department, and touted an amendment in a House spending bill passed last month that would block funding for ‘this bizarre effort.’ He claimed that the group Pompeo had selected would ‘give preference to discriminatory ideologies that would narrow protections for women, including on reproductive rights; for members of the LGBTQI community; and for other minority groups,’ and he hit the secretary for providing little information regarding plans for the commission…” (Oprysko, 7/8).

Washington Post: State Department launches panel focused on human rights and natural law
“…Proponents of a reassessment say perceptions of what qualifies as a human right have evolved since the days when it took a gross abuse, such as a gulag or apartheid, to raise significant concern. Pompeo appeared to endorse that view, saying the commission will ask the most basic of questions. ‘What does it mean to say or claim that something is in fact a human right?’ he said. ‘How do we know or how do we determine whether that claim, that this or that is a human right? Is it true and therefore ought it to be honored?’ The commission is composed of experts, philosophers, and human rights activists from every political persuasion. Pompeo said their deliberations will be grounded in the nation’s ‘founding principles’ and those included in the U.N. document on human rights…” (Morello, 7/8).

Additional coverage of the announcement is available from Agence France-Presse, CBS News, CNN, The Hill, HuffPost, NPR, VOA News, and Wall Street Journal.

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