Washington Week on Human Rights: June 16, 2014

Top News

CRISIS IN IRAQ This morning, Secretary of State John Kerry said the Obama Administration is willing to talk with Iran about ways to address the current crisis in Iraq. Kerry said he would not rule out military cooperation with Iran if it will help end the violence and restore confidence in the Iraqi government.  Discussion about a possible partnership is likely to occur during this week’s Vienna-based negotiations over the future of Iran’s nuclear program. On Friday, President Obama said that troops will not be sent back to Iraq, but noted that he has asked his national security team for a “range of other options,” options Kerry said could include drone strikes.

APPROPRIATIONS The House of Representatives will take up the Department of Defense Appropriations bill this week in a debate that is likely to include discussion about the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo. Tomorrow, the Senate Appropriations Committee’s State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Subcommittee will markup the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. Among the key human rights issues expected to come up are funds for counterterrorism, implementation of the Leahy Law, LGBT initiatives and efforts supporting U.S. policy in the Middle East.

CHILDREN AT THE BORDER On Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the surge of unaccompanied minors along the U.S. southern border.  Last week, the House Appropriations Committee approved nearly $78 million in additional funds for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The funds are to address the issue of border overcrowding and the surge in minors crossing the U.S. southern border. Earlier this month, Human Rights First issued a comprehensive blueprint detailing how lawmakers and policymakers should tackle challenges related to the increase in requests for asylum and protection along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Quote of the Week

“… Upholding universal values and human rights is at the core of what it means to be American. If we sacrifice those values or let our policies diverge too far from our ideals, our influence will wane and our country will cease to be what Abraham Lincoln called the ‘the last best hope of earth.’”

– Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s new book Hard Choices

We’re Reading

The New York Times editorialized this morning on President Obama’s commitment to invest $5 billion in helping other nations fight extremists. The paper noted that the fund’s focus must go beyond military responses and include investments in community projects, education, and civil society.

Friday, Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) introduced the International Human Rights Defense Act, which, according to The Advocate,would create a special envoy in the State Department responsible for foreign policy initiatives to protect the human rights of LGBT people worldwide. Learn more here.

In a special report for the Wall Street Journal, Joel Millman investigates the growth in LGBT refugees seeking asylum in the United States due to persecution, violence, and discrimination in their home countries. Read more about refugee protection here.

We’re Watching

Yahoo! News’ Katie Couric interviewed Secretary of State John Kerry this morning. During the interview, Kerry said that the United States may partner with Iran in efforts to address the current crisis in Iraq.

On the Hill

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Senate Appropriations Committee’s State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Subcommittee will markup the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, 4PM, 138 Dirksen Senate Office Building

The House Appropriations Committee’s State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Subcommittee markup of the FY2015 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill. 6PM, H-140, U.S. Capitol

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Senate Appropriations Committee’s Defense Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the FY15 Department of Defense Budget.  The Honorable Chuck Hagel, Secretary, Department of Defense; General Martin Dempsey, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, will testify. 10AM, Room SD-192 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a Joint Subcommittee Hearing on “The Bergdahl Exchange: Implications for U.S. National Security and the Fight Against Terrorism.”  Mr. Mike Waltz, Senior National Security Fellow, New America Foundation (Commanded a Special Forces’ Company in Eastern Afghanistan in 2009); Spc. Cody Full, USA, Retired, (Served with Sgt. Bergdahl in Blackfoot Company, Second Platoon), Mr. Andy Andrews (Father of deceased Second Lieutenant, USA, Darryn Andrews) will testify. 2PM, 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on U.S. Policy in Afghanistan and the Regional Implications of the 2014 Transition. The Honorable James Dobbins, Special Representative For Afghanistan And Pakistan, U.S. Department of State; The Honorable Nisha Biswal, Assistant Secretary For South And Central Asia, U.S. Department of State; Mr. Michael Dumont, Deputy Assistant Secretary For Afghanistan, Pakistan, And Central Asia, U.S. Department of Defense; Brigadier General Robert White, Director Of The Afghanistan/Pakistan Coordination Cell, Joint Staff, U.S. Department of Defense, will testify. 2:15PM, Senate Dirksen 419

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on “An Administration Made Disaster: The South Texas Border Surge of Unaccompanied Alien Minors.” 2PM, 2141 Rayburn House Office Building.

Around Town

Monday June 16, 2014

Russia House will hold its 34th annual U.S.-Russia Forum, June 16-17.Russian Cultural Center, 1825 Phelps Place NW, Washington, D.C.

The Woodrow Wilson Center (WWC) will host a discussion on “What to Expect from the Al-Sisi Presidency.” The event will feature Marina Ottaway, WWC senior scholar and former senior research associate and head of the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; and Emad Shahin, WWC public policy scholar and professor of public policy in the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at American University in Cairo.

12PM, WWC, One Woodrow Wilson Plaza, Ronald Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Sixth Floor, Washington, D.C.

The Center for American Progress (CAP) will hold a discussion on “The New Middle East Cold War: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Region’s Ongoing Battle over the Muslim Brotherhood.” The event will feature Haroon Ullah, member of the State Department Policy Planning Staff; Peter Mandaville, professor at George Mason University; and CAP Senior Fellows Brian Katulis and Hardin Lang. 12:30PM,CAP, 1333 H Street NW, 10th Floor, Washington, D.C. Mariel

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The George Washington University’s (GWU) Institute for Security and Conflict Studies, the American Conservative, and the American Prospect will host a New International Conference on “American Foreign Policy After Afghanistan and Iraq. The event will feature Daniel Drezner, professor of international politics in the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University; Matt Duss, policy analyst at the Center for American Progress; Conor Friedersdorf, writer at The Atlantic; John Judis, writer at the New Republic; Daniel Larison, senior editor at the American Conservative; Barry Posen, director of the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Robert Merry, editor at the National Interest; Christopher Preble, vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute; Adam Serwer, reporter at MSNBC.com; and Marcy Wheeler, writer at Emptywheel. 8AM, GWU, 805 21st Street NW, Jack Morton Auditorium, Washington, D.C.

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) will hold a discussion on “The Role of Congress in U.S. Human Rights Policy and Beyond.” The event will feature Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J.; and Michael Mosettig, writer at PBS Online NewsHour. 12:30PM, CFR, 1777 F Street NW, Washington, D.C. Robyn

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) will host a discussion on “The State of Peace: Measuring Country Risk and Opportunity,” focusing on “recent trends in militarization, safety and security, and ongoing conflict.” The event will feature Gary Milante, program director of Stockhold International Peace Research Institute’s Macroeconomics Security Program; Paul Stares, senior fellow for conflict prevention and director of the Center for Preventative Action at the Council on Foreign Relations; Alexandra Toma, executive director of the Peace and Security Funders Group; Aubrey Fox, executive director of the Institute for Economics and Peace USA; and Robert Lamb, director and senior fellow in the CSIS Program on Crisis, Conflict and Cooperation. 9:30AM, CSIS, 1616 Rhode Island Avenue NW, Second Floor Conference Room, Washington, D.C.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Atlantic Council will hold a discussion on “The Ukraine Crisis and NATO.” The event will feature UK Minister of State for Europe David Lidington; and Damon Wilson, executive vice president of the Atlantic Council. 4PM, Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor, Washington, D.C.

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Published on June 16, 2014


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