As Administration Testifies on War Authorization, Congress Urged to Set Meaningful Limits

Washington, D.C.—As Congress considers a war authorization for military force following the deaths of U.S. service members in Niger, Human Rights First urges representatives to only consider an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that is clear, specific, and narrowly-tailored. The recommendations were presented in a statement for the record to the Committee on Foreign Relations ahead of their hearing today, where Secretaries Mattis and Tillerson will testify.

“War authorizations confer extraordinary powers on the president, powers that outside of war would amount to egregious violations of human rights. Wartime rules were designed for the unique circumstances of armed conflict between opposing armed forces,” said Human Rights First’s Rita Siemion. “Continued reliance on outdated and ill-defined war authorizations blurs the line between war and peace undermine national security, U.S. leadership in the world, and human rights at home and abroad.”

The over-broad language in the 2001 AUMF, which authorized the use of force against those responsible for the 9/11 attacks, has been stretched to cover the use of force nearly 16 years later against groups that did not even exist in 2001. Such usage undermines human rights protections and the rule of law by enabling an amorphous and indefinite war.

Human Rights First has long-advocated that any new AUMF should include the following:

  • Clearly-defined mission objectives and enemy;
  • Transparency and reporting requirements;
  • Compliance with international law;
  • Repeal or supersede other AUMFs; and,
  • Require reauthorization with sunset provision.

Human Rights First has also developed a detailed analysis supporting these recommendations in an issue brief, which compares a number of AUMF proposals that are being considered.

For more information or to speak with Human Rights First’s Rita Siemion, contact Corinne Duffy at [email protected] or 202-370-3319.


Published on October 30, 2017


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