House Committee Votes to Limit U.S. Leadership Role on Human Rights at U.N.

In a
straight party-line vote of 23-15, Republican members of the House Committee on
Foreign Affairs this week passed H.R. 2829, the U.N. Transparency,
Accountability, and Reform Act of 2011. Among other things, the legislation seeks to withhold funding for
several important U.N. programs and activities and restrict U.S. participation
in the Human Rights Council.

October 13, 2011, The Leadership Conference sent to members of the committee a letter opposing H.R. 2829 and highlighting the positive results achieved by U.S.participation on the Human Rights Council, including a groundbreaking
resolution addressing violence, discrimination, and incitement to religious
hatred and the first ever resolution addressing violence and discrimination
against LGBT persons.

“Eliminating U.S. engagement with the Human Rights Council
would undermine the global leadership of the United States and our ability to
build support to advance vital human rights protections for people around the
world,” read the letter from The Leadership Conference. 

the Leadership Conference raised concerns about a key provision of the bill that
cuts funding to U.N. bodies tasked with implementing human rights conventions
to which the U.S. is not a party, such as the Convention on the Elimination of
All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the most comprehensive
women’s human rights treaty. If enacted, this provision would undermine the U.N.’s
work in advancing the rights of women worldwide. Instead, The Leadership
Conference is urging Congress to support the Obama administration’s efforts to win
Senate ratification of CEDAW, enabling the U.S. to join with 187 other
countries that have committed to advance and protect the rights of women by
implementing CEDAW. 

Leadership Conference and others, including the Better World Campaign, will
continue their efforts to oppose the enactment of H.R. 2829.  It is still to be determined whether the bill
will be scheduled for a vote on the House floor.