/Human rights advocates, top Democrats sign letter condemning Pompeo’s Commission on Unalienable Rights

Human rights advocates, top Democrats sign letter condemning Pompeo’s Commission on Unalienable Rights

Mike Pompeo

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the formation of the Commission on Unalienable Rights in early July. | Mark Wilson/Getty Images

More than 400 elected officials, human rights advocates and national organizations have signed a letter condemning the Trump administration’s Commission on Unalienable Rights and calling for its immediate disbanding.

The signatories, which include Amnesty International, the Presbyterian Church, Former United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice and the Planned Parenthood Federation, wrote that the commission “lacks ideological diversity” and “appears to reflect a clear interest in limiting human rights, including the rights of women and LGBTQI individuals.”

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the formation of the commission in early July, saying its goal was to “provide fresh thinking about human rights discourse where such discourse has departed from our nation’s founding principles of natural law and natural rights.”

This language, opponents of the commission say, could be easily manipulated to do more harm than good. Those at the helm of the commission, they argue, have a demonstrated history of anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ ideals that could directly threaten the groups whose rights they claim they wish to protect.

Opponents of the commission have noted, as an example, that its chair, Mary Ann Glendon, is a former Vatican ambassador under former President George W. Bush and known social conservative. Her anti-abortion stance has contributed to the concerns of a number of human rights groups who believe giving her such power could also greatly limit women’s rights.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s top Democrat, was an early critic of the commission, saying in a statement that it threatens to “further erode U.S. leadership on human rights across the board.” A separate letter he organized, according to NBC, has been signed by 22 Senate lawmakers including Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). A third letter, also obtained by NBC, was signed by more than 100 Catholic church leaders who fear the commission would limit the rights of immigrants and the poor.

The State Department has maintained that the commission will be bipartisan and serve in an advisory role to Pompeo, though the secretary has remained vague on what exactly its members will do.

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