More than 200 human rights experts and social justice and religious organizations backed a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, objecting to the conclusions in the State Department’s recently released report on unalienable rights.
Last week, the Commission on Unalienable Rights released a report that Mr. Pompeo said holds the framework “to ask the right questions, and a basis for thoughtful, rational debate.” The report concludes that the U.S. should be open, but cautious, in accepting new claims of human rights.
The 60-page report argues that there is a “hierarchy of human rights,” drawing a separation between economic and social rights, and political rights, and that “more rights do not always yield more justice.”
On Thursday, 230 signatories rebuked the report and said they “believe that the work you have produced will undermine American commitments to human rights and provide cover for those who wish to narrow certain categories of rights protections, resulting in a weakening of the international human rights system and its protections in the process.”
The signatories, which include former State Department officials, the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights First, and various churches and law offices, among others, said that they “object strenuously to the work product that has emerged from this fundamentally flawed and unnecessary undertaking.”
The commission, led by Mary Ann Glendon, a known social conservative and anti-abortion advocate as well as a Harvard law professor and former Vatican ambassador under then-President George W. Bush, has been criticized by human rights organizations who argue it could undercut the rights of individuals in several minority groups. It was established last July and aimed to redefine human rights policy under the Trump administration.
The signatories argued that the report “makes a deeply disturbing distinction between ‘unalienable rights’ and what it describes as the ‘social and political controversies’ of ‘abortion, affirmative action, [and] same-sex marriage.’ “
“To be clear, each of the aforementioned issues relate to human rights guaranteed by international and domestic law, including by the U.S. Supreme Court,” they wrote, and rejected “the manner in which the report promotes rights hierarchies through its emphasis on a certain subset of civil and political rights.”
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