Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the creation of a new human rights commission during a press conference on Monday.
The Commission on Unalienable Rights will consist of "human rights experts, philosophers, and activists, Republicans, Democrats, and independents of varied backgrounds and beliefs," Pompeo said. Members of the commission will advise him on "human rights grounded in our nation's Founding principles and the principles of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights."
"It's a sad commentary on our times that more than 70 years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, gross violations continue throughout the world, sometimes even in the name of human rights. International institutions designed and built to protect human rights have drifted from their original mission," Pompeo added.
The commission will address fundamental questions about the nature of human rights and how human rights should inform American foreign policy.
"I hope that the commission will revisit the most basic of questions: What does it mean to claim or say that something is in fact a human right? How do we know or how do we determine whether that claim that this or that is a human right, is it true, and therefore ought it to be honored? How can there be human rights, rights we possess not as privileges we are granted or even earn, but simply by virtue of our humanity belong to us? Is it in fact true as our Declaration of Independence asserts that as human beings we, all of us, every member of our human family are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights?" Pompeo said.
"Each of these is an important question, and the mission of the commission is to provide advice on them and others not as purely abstract academic matters, but in a manner deeply informed by the timeless truths embedded in the American founding with a view to guiding our nation's foreign policy," he continued.
The announcement of the new human rights commission comes one year after the Pompeo-led State Department hosted the first-ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, a summit which included delegates from about 80 countries and representatives from civic organizations around the world dedicated to advancing religious freedom.