Secretary Pompeo Announces Formation of Commission on Unalienable Rights

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U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo listens to the Chair of the Commission on Unalienable Rights, Mary Ann Glendon, as she delivers remarks to the press at the U.S. Department of State in Washington D.C. on July 8, 2019.

Secretary Pompeo Announces Formation of Commission on Unalienable Rights

On July 8, 2019, Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo announced the formation of a Commission on Unalienable Rights. The commission is composed of human rights experts, philosophers, and activists, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents of varied background and beliefs, who will provide the Secretary with advice on human rights grounded in our nation’s founding principles and the principles of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Secretary Pompeo said, "An American commitment to uphold human rights played a major role in transforming the moral landscape of the international relations after World War II, something all Americans can rightly be proud of. Under the leadership of Eleanor Roosevelt, the 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights ended forever the notion that nations could abuse their citizens without attracting notice or repercussions."

The Secretary continued, "...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. Nation-states and international institutions remain confused about their respective responsibilities concerning human rights. With that as background and with all of this in mind, the time is right for an informed review of the role of human rights in American foreign policy."

The commission will advise on human rights issues in a manner "deeply informed by the timeless truths embedded in the American founding with a view to guiding our nation’s foreign policy."  Professor Mary Ann Glendon, the Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, will serve as chair of the commission. Other members of the commission include Russell Berman, Peter Berkowitz, Paolo Carozza, Hamza Yusuf Hanson, Jacqueline Rivers, Meir Soloveichik, Katrina Lantos Swett, Christopher Tollefsen, and David Tse-Chien Pan. Dr. Kiron Skinner, Director of Policy Planning at the U.S. Department of State, will serve as the head of the executive secretary of the committee, and Cartright Weiland will serve as rapporteur.