Mike Pompeo has begun to make efforts to redefine the way the country approaches human rights. The US secretary of state has decided to highlight and refer to private property and religious freedom as the most important ‘unalienable rights’ that were set by the country’s Founding Fathers.
Pompeo established a Commission on Unalienable Rights around a year ago and this week was able to release a draft report into the attitudes toward and uphold of human rights in the US and beyond. The former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency also claimed that the spread of human rights assertion by various US and international institutions was creating a diluting effect on the rights that he finds the most important.
“This draft report is a consensus document that was signed and approved unanimously by all 11 commissioners. Throughout its deliberations, the Commission greatly benefited from the perspectives of individual citizens and non-governmental organizations, many of whom attended public meetings in person, submitted written commentary for the Commission’s consideration, or both. The Commission also studied relevant texts and historical documents and referred back to them throughout its drafting process,” read a mission statement on the US Department of State’s website.
Authors of the report, which launched last Thursday, include a mix of academics and activists and all have said that they were not able to agree on how human rights standards should be applied with issues such as ‘abortion, affirmative action, and capital punishment, to name a few’.
The report and subsequent presentation have been criticized already by many human rights activists, as well as some experts on the subject. They claim that it is wrong to establish a hierarchy of human rights based on what they found important and to place more emphasis on some than others. The group was also criticized for portraying the advocacy of human rights as purely American.
Critics have also argued the hypocrisy of the report as they highlight the shortcomings of this Trump administration when it comes to human rights. For example, many were shocked when the President and his administration decided on the policy of separating immigrant children from their parents and families and then holding them in cages like animals.
Also being brought to attention is the use of excessive force and mistreatment of the public during nationwide protests following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. Top UN official David Kaye has also previously spoken of the ‘Trump effect’ on world press freedom, and the President himself has repeatedly referred to the press as the ‘enemy of the people.’
“We agreed that our founders traveled to this great land to enjoy the fruit of freedom, not to spread subjugation. We agreed as Professor Glendon in the former 1960s civil rights advocate wrote in her great work writes, “That a rapidly expanding catalog of rights, not only multiplies the occasion for risks of collision, but risk trivializing core American values.” We agreed that the Declaration of Independence, itself, is the most important statement of human rights ever written,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during his speech to reveal his human rights report.
“It made human freedom and human equality, our nation’s central ideas. And as I said to the Claremont Institute, now just over a year ago, we agreed that America draws strength and goodness from her founding ideals and that our foreign policy must be grounded by those ideals as well.
“But, we know this, we can’t do good at home or abroad if we don’t precisely know what we believe and why we believe it. And that’s why I asked Professor Glendon to form a commission composed of some of the most distinguished scholars and activists,” 56-year-old Pompeo went on to say.
“I asked them not to discover new principles, but to furnish advice on human rights grounded in our nation’s founding principles and the principles of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Because without this grounding our efforts to protect and promote human rights is unmoored and, therefore, destined to fail. And so the Commission on Unalienable Rights was born.
“These rights, these unalienable rights, are essential. They are the foundation upon which this country was built. They are central to who we are and to what we care about as Americans,” the former attorney added.
“Now, I think Colonel Dolan referred to this, but America’s founders didn’t invent the unalienable rights, but stated very clearly in the Declaration of Independence that they are held as “self evident” that human beings were created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights among those are, “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
“No one can enjoy the pursuit of happiness if you cannot own the fruits of your own labor and no society can retain its legitimacy or a virtuous character without religious freedom.”