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US announces formation of human rights panel

Secretary Pompeo delivers remarks at the Foreign Affairs Day celebration, at the Department of State, on May 3, 2019. (State Department photo by Ron Przysucha/ Public Domain)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced the formation of a human rights panel that will review the role of human rights in American foreign policy.

Pompeo said on July 8 that the Commission on Unalienable Rights will be headed by Harvard Law School professor Mary Ann Glendon, a former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican.

Pompeo said the bipartisan commission includes human rights experts, philosophers, and activists from varied backgrounds.

“Every once in a while we need to step back and reflect seriously on where we are, where we’ve been, and whether we’re headed in the right direction,” Pompeo said at the State Department.

He praised the 1948 Declaration on Universal Human Rights as one of the foundational documents for the commission’s work and said that it would provide him with advice on human rights issues.

Amnesty International criticized the move and accused the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump of undermining rights for individuals and the responsibilities of governments.

“This administration has actively worked to deny and take away long-standing human rights protections since Trump’s inauguration,” Joanne Lin, national director of advocacy and government affairs at Amnesty International USA, said on July 8.