Who’s in charge of human rights at the State Department?May 24, 2009 # 3:12 pm # Foreign Policy, Human Rights # No Comment
When Secretary of State Hilary Clinton went to China in February, there was much concern among activists that she had downplayed human rights. And this, undoubtedly, led to speculation that human rights would not be playing as critical a role in U.S. foreing policy as some advocates might have hoped. But many were encouraged when it was reported in February that Michael Posner, the President of Human Rights First, had been nominated to be Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights, Democracy, and Labor– a position created under a different name during the Carter Administration to institutionalize human right within the foreign policy process. Yet, despite these press reports, a search of the White House website reveals no presidential nomination. And if you explore the website for the Bureau of Human Rights, Democracy, and Labor, you find:
About the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
Our bureau is led by an experienced team of public servants, dedicated to the U.S. mission of spreading democracy and respect for human rights globally. The biographies of each of our bureau’s senior staff display the diversity of experience and expertise currently benefiting the U.S. cause of promoting freedom around the world.
Vacant, Assistant Secretary of State
Karen B. Stewart, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary
Kay Mayfield, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary
Bruce Connuck, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary
Michael Kozak, Senior Advisor
Vacant, Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom
Vacant, Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism
So what is going on? Is Posner being nominated? We need him– and the rest of the Bureau! I know that other areas of State are also in need of leadership, but at a time when the Administration is attempting to reaffirm America’s commitment to human rights, it is sad to see it taking so long to appoint people in this area.