Commission on Unalienable Rights Releases Draft Recommendations That Would Destroy Human Rights Protections, says Leading Jewish Global Human Rights Group

American Jewish World Service (AJWS) urges public outcry over the draft report

Today, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s Commission on Unalienable Rights released its draft recommendations about the role of human rights and U.S. foreign policy, Rori Kramer, Director of U.S. Advocacy at American Jewish World Service (AJWS), released this statement:

“Since the establishment of the Commission on Unalienable Rights last year, we have been sounding alarms about the disastrous impacts the Commission could have on human rights around the world. Unfortunately, our concerns about the Commission – and Secretary Pompeo’s true intentions – have materialized.

“The Commission—composed of individuals with long records of hostility towards basic rights, such as reproductive rights and the rights of LGBTQI+ people—rejects long-standing human rights standards that have been developed through international consensus. These draft recommendations espouse a dangerous thinking that will allow the United States to promote a hierarchy of rights with religious freedom at the top.

“We are offended by this ill-disguised ploy to deny the human rights of vulnerable people across the globe—particularly women, girls, LGBTQI+ people, and sex workers. The recommendations promote the harmful idea that the rights of these very groups are not, in fact human rights; rather, the Commission defines them as merely “divisive social and political controversies.”

“In tandem with the recommendation that the United States treat economic and social rights differently than civil and political rights, the administration would put the lives of the most vulnerable at risk. As a faith-based organization, we are deeply opposed to the Commission’s elevation of a narrow and partisan view of religious freedom over other human rights.

“We are deeply concerned that these recommendations pose a grave danger if they are implemented according to Mr. Pompeo whims. By prioritizing religious freedom over basic dignity and equality of rights, he appears to seek to fundamentally dismantle decades of human rights work done by the State Department under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

“The report also opens the door for other countries with authoritarian leaders to redefine human rights within their own countries, and for U.S. diplomatic staff to be prevented from acting to stop it. This would deeply harm international human rights and undermine the work of human rights defenders worldwide in their pursuit of justice and equality.

“We call on Members of Congress, civil society organizations, faith leaders, and others to raise their voices to oppose these damaging recommendations and prevent human rights from being curbed around the world .”

Note: Today the Washington Post featured Rori Kramer’s commentary on this commission, “Mike Pompeo wants to nationalize human rights.”

About American Jewish World Service (AJWS)

American Jewish World Service (AJWS) is the leading Jewish organization working to fight poverty and pursue justice in the developing world. By supporting hundreds of social change organizations in 19 countries, we respond to the most pressing issues of our time—from disasters, genocide and hunger, to the persecution of women and minorities worldwide. With Jewish values and a global reach, AJWS is making a difference in millions of lives and bringing a more just and equitable world closer for all.

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