Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Susan Collins joined a bipartisan group of Senators in introducing a resolution to establish a Senate Human Rights Commission, modeled after the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in the U.S. House of Representatives. The resolution would create a bipartisan commission to examine human rights violations through regular briefings and events and promote human rights initiatives in the Senate.
“The United States must continue to take a leadership role in advancing human rights around the globe,” said Senator Collins. “By establishing a Commission in the Senate whose sole focus would be to promote human rights worldwide, our bipartisan resolution would help to raise awareness about these issues, spread American ideals abroad, and crack down on violators.”
“Amnesty International USA welcomes this bipartisan resolution to establish the Senate Human Rights Commission, and urges the Senate to swiftly pass the resolution. The U.S. Senate has a major role to play in highlighting and curtailing human rights violations around the world, and ensure universal human rights are central to US foreign policy,” said Joanne Lin, National Advocacy and Government Affairs Director of Amnesty International USA. “From the right to protest in Egypt and Chile, to violations against international religious freedom in Myanmar and China, or the migrant/refugee crisis gripping the America’s and Sub Saharan Africa, there is no shortage of human rights issues that need attention from the U.S. Government, and we believe this commission will help us find some of the answers to these pressing global challenges.”
“The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom is grateful that the United States Senate is prioritizing international human rights through the proposed creation of the Senate Human Rights Commission,” said Gayle Manchin, Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). “The Senate Commission would convene experts on various human rights situations taking place around the world and discuss solutions to very difficult problems, and it would serve as an important reminder that the U.S. is committed to individual universal freedoms as a vital part of its foreign policy and engagement with the world. We look forward to the establishment of the Senate Commission and to seeing its contribution to international religious freedom as it addresses the ongoing persecution of faith communities around the world.”
“The creation of such a commission would provide an important forum for senators to stay abreast of critical human rights issues worldwide, at a time when too many governments have been exploiting the pandemic to restrict the rights and liberties of their citizens, and be a seminal step towards re-enforcing human rights as a cornerstone of American foreign policy,” said Thomas O. Melia, Washington Director of PEN America. “As the state of free expression and other fundamental rights are under assault world-wide, Congress must devote itself to a strong defense of the civil liberties certain governments seek to undermine."
“The need for Congressional leadership to preserve and protect fundamental human rights around the world through U.S. foreign policy has never been more critical,” said Dr. Randel Everett, President of 21Wilberforce. This new commission would complement the work of Congressional committees and strengthen collaboration between government and non-governmental bodies. A Senate Human Rights Commission would increase the volume and effectiveness of bipartisan work focused on human rights abuses across the world.”
In December 2020, more than 50 leading human rights organizations sent a letter to Senate leadership in support of the establishment of a Senate Human Rights Commission.
In addition to Senator Collins, the bipartisan resolution was introduced by Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and James Lankford (R-OK).
Click HERE to read the full text of the resolution.