On July 23, 2019, the Better World Campaign, along with the United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA), joined over 400 human rights, faith-based, civil liberties, professional, academic, social justice organizations, foreign policy experts and others, called on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to disband the State Department’s newly formed “Commission on Unalienable Rights.”
Secretary Pompeo has suggested that there is “confusion” over what constitutes a human right and that this Commission aims to carry out “one of the most profound reexaminations of the unalienable rights in the world since the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
While establishing a commission to discuss human rights is laudable, it has been made clear through statements by the Secretary and the clearly delineated views of many Commission members that the body aims to artificially prioritize select “unalienable” rights versus “ad hoc” rights. But as the huge collection of NGOs, theologians, and foreign policy experts stated in the letter, “It is a fundamental tenet of human rights that all rights are universal and equal. Governments cannot take or discard them as they choose. Like other governments, the U.S. government is bound to certain obligations codified in widely ratified international treaties.”
Jordie Hannum, Executive Director of the Better World Campaign noted, “there should not be any confusion over what constitutes a human right. The rights enshrined in the world’s most translated document – the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights – are clear.”
Championing the whole set of rights articulated in the Universal Declaration would be a more worthy and timely endeavor for this Administration; a viewpoint undoubtedly shared by the person most directly responsible for it – Eleanor Roosevelt – as well as the many young Americans who recently deemed human rights as the international issue of highest priority and celebrated the 70th anniversary of the UDHR.