“The time is right for an informed review of the role of human rights in American foreign policy,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said July 8 as he announced the formation of a new commission to provide him with advice on the current state of global human rights.

“The commission’s charge is to point the way toward that more perfect fidelity to our nation’s founding principles,” the secretary said. “We must,” he said, “… be vigilant that human rights discourse not be corrupted or hijacked or used for dubious or malignant purposes.”

Members of the new body will include a diverse group of experts, philosophers and activists from varied backgrounds and beliefs. Mary Ann Glendon, a professor of law at Harvard University and world-renowned human rights expert, will lead the commission.

Guiding U.S. foreign policy

Pompeo emphasized America’s leading role and commitment to uphold human rights after World War II and its role in forming the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which “ended forever the notion that nations could abuse their citizens without attracting notice or repercussions.”

“It’s a sad commentary on our times that more than 70 years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, gross violations continue throughout the world, sometimes even in the name of human rights,” he said.