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Menendez Questions Intent and Impact of Trump Admin’s New Commission on Unalienable Rights

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo formally launched a new Commission on Unalienable Rights within the State Department. Described as a new body to advise the Secretary of State on human rights in U.S. foreign policy, the Trump Administration’s new body will purportedly provide “fresh thinking about human rights” and propose reforms of human rights discourse where they claim it has “departed from our nation’s founding principles of natural law and natural rights”—terms sometimes used to justify policies that discriminate against marginalized populations.

“Secretary Pompeo announced the establishment of his Commission this morning, arguing that ‘basic human rights are misunderstood and manipulated.’ These claims are absurd, particularly from an administration that has taken a wrecking ball to America’s global leadership on promoting fundamental rights across the world.

“The Trump Administration continues to support despotic governments abroad while simultaneously ignoring the abuses and rights of children and families on our border. This is an administration that has fawned over Kim Jong-un, embraced Vladimir Putin, praised Rodrigo Duterte, looked the other way as Xi Jinping imprisons millions, and covered up for Mohammed Bin Salman. President Trump’s personal affection for gross human rights violators has stained America’s moral fabric. No Trump Administration commission can erase that.

“Instead of a new body designed to weaken human rights, we need this President and this Secretary to actually champion human rights by standing up for America’s values and by using the framework that is already in place and which has been championed by prior administrations for decades, regardless of party.

“We have a responsibility to ensure the United States continues to uphold its international obligations and leads the international community by example on promoting human rights across the board, including in advancing reproductive rights for women and for LGBTQ individuals worldwide.  Given the opaque process under which this Commission is being established, I will make sure that the Administration does not manipulate its work to serve as another sledgehammer to the principles of universal human rights.”