American Jewish World Service (AJWS) decries report from Commission on Unalienable Rights
Late last night, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s Commission on Unalienable Rights issued the final version of its report on the role of human rights and U.S. foreign policy. Rori Kramer, Director of U.S. Advocacy at American Jewish World Service (AJWS), issued the following statement:
“In yet another example of Secretary Mike Pompeo making a partisan plea to religious conservatives for political purposes, he released the final report of his commission designed to undermine the human rights of women, girls and LGBTQI+ people. Clearly, the Commission and its final report are intended to advance a conservative religious agenda, willfully misusing State Department resources once again.
“When Secretary of State Pompeo and the Commissioners unveiled their draft report in July, we learned the initial version of the report was nothing but a thinly veiled attempt to deny basic human rights, especially sexual and reproductive rights and LGBTQI+ rights.
“Using this report to guide U.S. foreign policy will have a disastrous impact on human rights around the world. To be clear, the Commission on Unalienable Rights is nothing but a political project of Pompeo and the Trump administration to impose a parochial religious point of view, which devalues women, girls and LGBTQI+ people and undermines their human rights.
“We are gravely disappointed that no major changes have been made to the report despite the outpouring of opposition, including from AJWS and others in the American faith community, during the public comment period, which was nothing but a fig leaf for a sham process and biased report.
“The Commission— which consists overwhelmingly of conservative scholars and theologians opposed to LGBTQI+ and reproductive rights and little experience with actual human rights practice—has rejected long-standing, internationally recognized human rights standards. As a faith-based human rights organization founded on the value of upholding the inherent dignity of all people, we are disgusted that so-called ‘religious freedom’ is being used as a cudgel to deny the rights of vulnerable communities around the globe, especially women, girls, LGBTQI+ individuals, and sex workers. Human rights are universal; they require no redefinition by Pompeo or Trump or any narrow religious or national interpretation.
“By dismissing international human rights standards in favor of this partisan, nationalistic approach, Pompeo is opening the door for authoritarian governments and religious ideologues around the world to redefine human rights however they deem domestically convenient. Such a shift would undoubtably prove devastating to marginalized communities and would undermine the pursuit of justice and equality by human rights defenders.
“We must not allow Pompeo’s narrow, national reinterpretation of human rights to gain credibility or traction. Now that the report is finalized, it is more important than ever that Members of Congress, civil society organizations, faith leaders and others publicly oppose the Commission’s damaging recommendations and conclusions, to protect the human rights of all people around the globe.”
Note: The Washington Post recently 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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David L. Marcus