Secretary of State Mike Pompeo unveiled in early July the creation of the
Commission on Unalienable Rights to examine “the role of human rights in
American foreign policy,” which could have a positive impact in the fight against political Islamists like Iran's mullahs and the Muslim Brotherhood.
While praising the great achievements that have taken place in spreading the advancement of human rights around the world, Pompeo cautioned that “words like ‘rights’ can be used for good or evil.”
“We must, therefore, be vigilant that human rights discourse not be corrupted or hijacked or used for dubious or malignant purposes,” he told reporters, adding that sometimes “gross violations” occur around the world “even in the name of human rights.”
The commission gets its name from the US Declaration of Independence, which states that all humans “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” Pompeo asked the commission’s members to look at whether there are unalienable rights given by God to all humanity, what are human rights, and how it can be determined whether a certain claim to human rights is valid, especially when there are sometimes rights claims that seem to clash with each other.
The chair of the new 10-member commission, Harvard law professor Mary Ann Glendon, thanked Pompeo “for giving a priority to human rights at this moment when basic human rights are being misunderstood by many, manipulated by many, and ignored by the world’s worst human rights violators.”
Tasked with defining human rights principles rather than determining US policy, the commission has nonetheless come under criticism on various fronts, especially from liberal figures and organizations.
One point of contention for American liberals is the appointment of Glendon as the commission’s chair. A former US ambassador to the Vatican, Glendon is known for her stance against same-sex marriage and her role against efforts to label abortion as a human right at a UN Women’s conference in 1995.
Meanwhile, the commission’s sole Muslim member, Sheikh Hamza Yusuf Hanson, has been criticized by many US and Western Muslims for accepting a position in the administration of President Donald Trump, who is widely seen as being Islamophobic. But Hamza Yusuf – an American convert to Islam who went on to become an esteemed and pragmatic Muslim scholar and founder of Zaytuna College, the first accredited Muslim university in the United States – is also seen as having been a consistent and eloquent champion of human rights since the early 1990s. Using his extensive knowledge and training in the traditional Islamic sciences, Sheikh Hamza has frequently laid out the foundations of basic human rights and also at times intellectually dismantled false rights claims in clear fashion.
Sheikh Hamza, a student of the revered and world renowned Mauritanian Muslim scholar Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah, also serves as vice president of the UAE’s Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, which brings together Muslim scholars, philosophers and dignitaries to discuss the prevalence of hate and violence, root out their causes, and develop solutions. The forum has been largely successful in spelling out the logical and religious fallacies of political Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and terrorist groups like ISIS.
With the likes of Sheikh Hamza, the Trump administration now has a key resource to be able to non-militarily counter the likes of Iran’s clerical regime, the Brotherhood, and their supporters in Qatar, Turkey and elsewhere.
When the mullahs in Iran whine to the world that their “rights” are being denied because of sanctions, restrictions on nuclear development, or having a ship with an illegal shipment seized, while at the same time they are abusing Iranians’ rights through detentions, torture and killings, the commission will be able to articulate the absurdity of Tehran’s complaints and provide clear justification for seeking means to protect the Iranian population’s real rights from the terror of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s thugs.
When the Muslim Brotherhood cries at being banned and labeled a terrorist organization by Arab nations, the commission will be able to explain why certain “rights” are not extended to those who seek to deny basic human rights to anyone different from themselves and how such a group’s claims are based not on defending human rights but on acquiring political sympathy and power.
The new Commission on Unalienable Rights will undoubtedly contribute greatly to the idea of human rights worldwide and will serve as an invaluable means to call out trumped-up rights claims that only serve terrorism and extremism, especially at a time when Iran’s leaders are attempting to use every strategy in their deception playbook.