From his perch on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is calling on President Donald Trump to name a candidate to serve as assistant secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL), a post which has been vacant for the past year and a half.
Rubio and U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-NJ, rounded up 15 other senators to send a letter to Trump on the matter this week, calling for the president to nominate someone with “a skillset and background that will enable him or her to inspire activists and freedom fighters abroad; work with our democratic allies to build robust coalitions against geopolitical and ideological challengers; represent the United States in bilateral and multilateral fora to advocate for fundamental freedoms; work with non-governmental bodies to strengthen democratic institutions; and hold human rights abusers and corrupt actors accountable.”
“On December 20, 2017, you affirmed under Executive Order 13818 that ‘Human rights abuse[s] and corruption undermine the values that form an essential foundation of stable, secure, and functioning societies; have devastating impacts on individuals; weaken democratic institutions; degrade the rule of law; perpetuate violent conflicts; facilitate the activities of dangerous persons; and undermine economic markets.' We could not agree more with these sentiments,” the senators wrote. “History has shown that governments that uphold the rights of their people, abide by the rule of law, and maintain strong democratic institutions, are more likely to remain at peace with one another, and are less likely to breed many of the threats that undermine international security. Likewise, good governance, strong democratic institutions, and robust rule of law and labor rights are all powerful enablers of economic prosperity. We believe actively promoting these values through diplomacy should continue to be a bedrock of American foreign policy, particularly in the face of growing threats to these very ideals.
“As your recent National Security Strategy recognized, America’s adversaries are actively engaged in efforts to weaken democratic governments and institutions. We should make no mistake—in the face of an increasingly complex geopolitical landscape and rising challenges from autocratic states, the United States must continue to harness the power of its example as a champion of democratic values as a moral obligation, and also as a strategic imperative,” the senators continued. “Nominating a qualified Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) would send an important signal about American leadership and commitment to these values. It is therefore more essential than ever that your administration nominate an Assistant Secretary for DRL with a skillset and background that will enable him or her to inspire activists and freedom fighters abroad; work with our democratic allies to build robust coalitions against geopolitical and ideological challengers; represent the United States in bilateral and multilateral fora to advocate for fundamental freedoms; work with non-governmental bodies to strengthen democratic institutions; and hold human rights abusers and corrupt actors accountable. The nominee must also commit to upholding the basic rights of all people including those targeted for their work, such as journalists, labor activists and human rights defenders, and advise the Secretary of State and other cabinet members on these core issues in the context of U.S. foreign policy priorities. Our national security and foreign policy goals can only be realized through principled American leadership on these fundamental issues.”
Among the senators who signed off on the letter were U.S. Sens. Cory Booker, D-NJ, Chris Coon, D-Fel., Lindsey Graham, R-SC, and Ben Sasse, R-Neb.