Statement by American Jewish World Service on The Commission on Unalienable Rights

This morning, United States Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, announced the creation of the State Department’s Commission on Unalienable Rights.

Rori Kramer, Director of Government Affairs for American Jewish World Service (AJWS), the leading global Jewish human rights organization, issued the following statement.

“As a faith-based organization fully committed to the human rights and dignity of every person, we are deeply concerned that the Commission on Unalienable Rights may be yet another method by which the Trump administration aims to inject dangerous religious beliefs into American foreign policy. This is a way to further undermine the human rights of vulnerable individuals and communities around the world, including women and girls, LGBTQI people, indigenous people and ethnic minorities.

The Commission’s mandate – to explore the principles that have established human rights – implicity, if not explicitly, challenges the very notion that human rights are inherent to all individuals. Questioning the universality of human rights is antithetical to already adopted national and international human rights standards, as well as widely held ecumenical beliefs by major faith traditions about the value and dignity of every person. The Commission’s mandate also appears to circumvent the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, the entity dedicated to the mission of defending and promoting human rights abroad. Though Secretary Pompeo states that the Commission will serve in an advisory capacity, we fear that the Commission will seek to circumvent and undermine the valuable work that the State Department has steadfastly carried out for decades.

As the leading global Jewish organization focused on human rights in the developing world, we look forward to working with the Commissioners to review the weakened state of U.S. global human rights leadership under the current administration. Moreover, we will seek to ensure that narrow religious views are not used to further entrench a U.S. foreign policy that has the goal of gutting human rights protections of those who need them the most.

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