Washington: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Monday announced the creation of a commission on unalienable rights, which will advise and provide recommendations to him on issues concerning international human rights matters.
The panel will be headed by renowned author and expert of human rights Mary Ann Glendon, a Harvard law professor and former ambassador to the Vatican under George W Bush. The body is composed of academics, philosophers, activists, Republicans, Democrats and independents who are expected to advise the secretary of state on foreign policy matters.
Announcing the establishment of the new commission at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of State Department, Pompeo said, "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 a true and therefore audit to be honoured, how can there be human rights, rights we possess not that as privileges we are granted or even earn, but simply by virtue of our humanity belong to us."
The time is right for an informed review of the role of human rights in American foreign policy, Pompeo said Monday, adding that it is an American commitment to uphold human rights.
Pompeo said that it's a sad commentary on our time spent 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, he said.
He hailed former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt's 1948 Declaration on Universal Human Rights as one of the foundational documents for the commission's work, but noted that the panel would serve as advisers and not as policymakers.
"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," Pompeo said.
With that as background with all of this in mind the time is right for an informed review of the role of human rights in American foreign policy, said the top American diplomat.
Other members of the new commission would be Russell Berman, Peter Berkowitz, Palo Karotsa, Hamza Yusuf Hanson, Jacqueline Rivers Meyer, Christopher Tollefson and David Saperstein.
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) applauded the announcement.
"The USCIRF is very pleased that the State Department is continuing to make human rights an integral part of US foreign policy and relations, said Chair Tony Perkins.
We applaud the creation of this Commission as another way of ensuring that the protection of these fundamental rights the most foundational of which is freedom of religion or belief is a core element of strategic policy discussions, he said.