The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights pushed this week for the confirmation of Keith Harper as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Council, a position President Obama nominated him for in June.
“Mr. Harper is a member of the Cherokee Nation and is slated to be the first Native American to serve as an Ambassador for the United States. He has spent decades fighting for the civil and human rights of Native Americans and indigenous people here and around the world,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference, and Nancy Zirkin, executive vice president of The Leadership Conference. “His experience as a litigator, a judge on tribal courts, and advocate and negotiator before the Organization of American States and the United Nations on behalf of the National Congress of American Indians, makes him exceptionally well-qualified for this position.”
Harper previously served as a litigator at the Native American Rights Fund and as appellate justice on the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation’s highest court before serving on the Supreme Court of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. In 2008, he was named one of the 50 most influential minority lawyers in America by the National Law Journal.
“I look forward to working closely with this Committee to advance our shared priorities and values at the Council, to further our national interest, and to proudly present our sterling human rights record that is core to who we are as a people and as a nation,” Harper said in September before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
If confirmed, Harper would be the first member of a federally recognized tribe to serve in an ambassador-level position.