Formation of Department of State Commission on Unalienable Rights [U.S.]

Editor’s Alert: Human Rights

Department of State Commission on Unalienable Rights [U.S.]
Federal Register – A Notice by the State Department on 05/30/2019
AGENCY: Department of State.
ACTION: Notice of intent to establish an advisory committee.
The Secretary of State announces an intent to establish the Department of State Commission on Unalienable Rights (the Commission), in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act.

Nature and Purpose: The Commission will provide the Secretary of State advice and recommendations concerning international human rights matters. The Commission will provide fresh thinking about human rights discourse where such discourse has departed from our nation’s founding principles of natural law and natural rights.

Other information: It is anticipated that the Commission will meet at least once per month and at such other times and places as are required to fulfill the objectives of the Commission. The Department of State affirms that the advisory committee is necessary and in the public interest.

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A New Trump Battleground: Defining Human Rights
New York Times – Editorials, June 17, 2019
By Carol Giacomo
Ms. Giacomo is a member of the editorial board.
The State Department says the nation has departed from its founding principles, but won’t say how. Some fear a rollback of rights.

“…If the commission is another step toward narrowing or calling into question America’s commitment on human rights, it will further erode the country’s leadership and give the world’s repressive rulers more reasons to ignore complaints about their own abuses and atrocities.”

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Pompeo Tries to Rescue the Idea of Human Rights
Wall Street Journal, Opinion By Aaron Rhodes
June 10, 2019 7:03 pm ET
Unmoored from natural law, the ‘liberal world order’ generally hasn’t produced liberty.
“…The “liberal world order” has generally not produced liberty. The hope that participation in inclusive, rules-based multilateral human-rights organizations would pull oppressive states toward liberalism has proved illusory. And while oppressive regimes sabotage human rights at the highest level, civil-society campaigns have largely become passive, expecting that unfree societies can really be liberated by United Nations bureaucracies.

Can Americans get their act together to do something about this global disaster? Initial reactions to the Pompeo initiative are discouraging. The issue has been immediately folded into domestic preoccupations with sexual-identity politics. The mention of “natural law” and “natural rights”—which the State Department correctly named as the core foundational principles of human rights—has aroused charges that the government is becoming a theocracy, exactly what the American Founders, who risked everything to honor rights they knew were grounded in nature, sought to avoid.

The principle of natural rights has been all but forgotten on the international scene. Without any transcendent point of reference, human rights are seen as arbitrary “values,” no different from the laws of rulers and legislatures that authentic human-rights standards are there to constrain.

Confusions and clashes about the meaning of human rights are nothing new in American history. Since the early 19th century, proponents of slavery, nativism, progressivism and socialism have all sought to undermine the idea of unconditional, individual natural rights protected by the Constitution, because those rights stood in the way of their agendas.

Especially in America, a country founded to protect liberty, human rights should not be the focus of partisan squabbles and culture wars. They should be understood instead as the foundation of pluralism. Natural rights allow us to be different but live peacefully together. That’s the spirit that should animate the Unalienable Rights Commission.