July 13, 2021

Chairman Menendez Speaks Ahead of Vote on Nomination of Uzra Zeya to be Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, delivered the following remarks on the Senate Floor in advance of the confirmation vote on the nomination of Uzra Zeya to be Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights.

“Ms. Zeya is immensely qualified to lead U.S. efforts to re-center our most fundamental values in our foreign policy efforts and to strengthen the bureaus she will lead. Her experience, and the more than 20 years as a foreign service officer, including as Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor in the State Department, make her the perfect fit for this position,” Chairman Menendez said. “Our Secretary of State, and indeed our country, need senior human rights leadership of the caliber of Ms. Zeya.”

 

Find a copy of Chairman Menendez’s remarks as delivered below.

“I rise today to express my support for the nomination of Uzra Zeya to be the next Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights.

Ms. Zeya is immensely qualified to lead U.S. efforts to re-center our most fundamental values in our foreign policy efforts and to strengthen the bureaus she will lead. Her experience, and the more than 20 years as a foreign service officer, including as Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor in the State Department, make her the perfect fit for this position.

The previous Administration abdicated our global responsibility, but we now have the opportunity to restore U.S. leadership in the fight for democracy, human rights, and rule of law around the world. It is an exciting prospect for us, but more importantly, it will give hope to those still fighting for their rights – the millions of people around the world who look to the United States for inspiration and support in their own democratic struggles.

We see that in places like Cuba today.

Looking around the globe, we see China stripping away Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms at an alarming pace. Military dictators are cementing their illegitimate rule in places like Burma and Mali, eroding and eliminating the institutions of democracy, while Russia and Belarus have imprisoned political opponents, without accountability.

At the same time, an unprecedented 80 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes, communities, and countries. We must look no further than our own southern border to see the destruction, desperation, and displacement wrought by violence, climate change, and lack of economic opportunity.

All of these developments negatively impact American national security interests. Our Secretary of State, and indeed our country, need senior human rights leadership of the caliber of Ms. Zeya. 

The fact that the nomination of Ms. Zeya, a nominee so superbly qualified and whose leadership is so essential to rebuilding the State Department, has languished for 82 days is a travesty. 

I strongly urge my colleagues to join me in voting to confirm her to the position of Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, and I hope my Republican colleagues will stop blocking qualified and critical nominees to the nation’s foreign policy and national security mission from moving forward.   

With that, Madam President, I yield the floor.”

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