by WorldTribune Staff, July 9, 2019
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on July 8 the formation of the State Department Commission on Unalienable Rights which will be grounded in the “nation’s founding principles of natural law and natural rights.”
“I hope that the commission will revisit the most basic of questions: What does it mean to say or claim that something is, in fact, a human right? 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?” Pompeo said.
Abortion advocates and LGBTQ rights supporters promptly railed against the commission’s formation.
“The Trump Administration is trying to redefine human rights in what appears to be a shameful attempt to further hateful policies,” Amnesty International, a pro-abortion international human rights watchdog, tweeted. “Women’s rights are human rights. LGBTQ rights are human rights. No ‘Commission on Unalienable Rights’ will change that.”
Jamil Dakwar, director of the American Civil Liberties Human Rights Program, called the commission an “affront to universal human rights.”
“It will no doubt be welcomed by social conservatives who for decades fought against LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, affirmative action and economic justice,” Dakwar tweeted.
Democrat New York Rep. Elliott Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, voiced his concern with the commission.
“This commission risks undermining many international human-rights norms that the United States helped establish, including LGBTQI rights and other critical human-rights protections around the world,” Engel said in a statement.
“Decades ago, Congress created an entire bureau in the State Department dedicated to defending and reporting on human rights and advising the Secretary and senior diplomats on human rights and democratic development. Now the Secretary wants to make an end run around established structures, expertise, and the law to 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,” Engel said.
Pompeo said “It’s a sad commentary on our times that more than 70 years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, gross violations continue throughout the world, sometimes even in the name of human rights. International institutions designed and built to protect human rights have drifted from their original mission. As human rights claims have proliferated, some claims have come into tension with one another, provoking questions and clashes about which rights are entitled to gain respect.”
Pompeo added: “How can there be human rights, rights we possess not as privileges we are granted or even earn, but simply by virtue of our humanity belong to us? Is it, in fact, true, as our Declaration of Independence asserts, that as human beings, we — all of us, every member of our human family — are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights?”
The new advisory committee will be chaired by Harvard Law School professor Mary Ann Glendon. It will provide recommendations “grounded in our nation’s founding principles and the principles of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” Pompeo said.
Along with Glendon, the commission will have nine other members, including Islamic scholar Hamza Yusuf and former chair of the bipartisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Katrina Lantos Swett.
United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Chairman Tony Perkins said the commission’s formation is a “meaningful step in advancing human rights around the world.”
Perkins said the international consensus on human rights has been “eroded” for decades as “human rights abusers like China, Iran and Cuba have wormed their way onto ‘human rights commissions’ in their search for international legitimacy.”
“The world’s worst actors have used international platforms to shape policy on an issue of dignity that they neither value nor practice,” Perkins said. “Other special interest groups have sought to expand the definition of a ‘human right’ to include virtually anything. If everything is a human right then the term begins to have little meaning.”
The formation of the commission was praised by USCIRF Vice Chair Gayle Manchin, the wife of Democrat West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin. She said in a statement that the new commission will “lead to higher impact negotiations on behalf of the more than 70 percent of the world’s population that is currently suffering persecution or abuse.”