Top Items

2016 Election

This year’s divisive campaign season was filled with troubling rhetoric and policy proposals that are out of step with the United States’ long history of being a world leader on human rights. Human Rights First remains committed to protecting the ideals that make America a strong and compassionate nation. It is important that our nation moves forward with renewed commitment, energy, and ideas. We will continue to work in coalition with all who are willing to come to the table in good faith to stand up for human rights and the rule of law, ideals that have sustained our nation for generations and must guide our future. We will spend the final days of the Obama Administration and the coming four years dedicated to pursuing policies that lift up voices of tolerance, protect refugees, and build alliances in support of the rule of law and national security.

President in Europe

This week President Obama will make his last official visit to Europe to meet with leaders in Greece and Germany. The trip provides an opportunity for the president to discuss a wide range of topics, including the ongoing world refugee crisis and the rise of antisemitic and extremist political movements.

The trip comes two weeks before Human Rights First hosts a civil society roundtable in Berlin that will feature activists, human rights defenders, and experts gathering to discuss our upcoming report on xenophobia and right-wing extremism in Germany. The final report, slated for release next month, will provide a roadmap for how the United States and European nations like Germany can work together to combat antisemitism and extremism.

The issue of antisemitism has also shaped today’s U.S. news cycle as President-elect Trump appointed Steve Bannon, who has a public history of promoting racism, sexism, and antisemitism, to be his chief strategist and senior counselor. We call on Democrats, Republicans, and allies around the world to loudly condemn this appointment, which is unacceptable for an America that was founded on the values of ‘freedom and justice for all.

Veterans Day

On Friday Americans across the nation took time to honor and give gratitude to those who have served in the armed forces to keep our nation safe. This year leaders from Veterans for American Ideals asked their fellow citizens to honor their sacrifice by taking action to help bring the nation together.

The group released a video calling on each and every American to join in a united, unwavering commitment to our ideals of liberty and justice. In the face of rising hate speech and increasing division, the veterans asked that we honor the sacrifice of so many of their fallen brothers and sisters in uniform, by standing behind what has made our nation a beacon to the world.

Quote of the Week

“The point, though, is, is that we all go forward, with a presumption of good faith in our fellow citizens— because that presumption of good faith is essential to a vibrant and functioning democracy. That’s how this country has moved forward for 240 years.  It’s how we’ve pushed boundaries and promoted freedom around the world. That’s how we’ve expanded the rights of our founding to reach all of our citizens. It’s how we have come this far.”

—President Obama, Wednesday, November 9, 2016

We’re Reading

The Council on Hemishperic Affairs writes that Jamaica’s homophobia is being forced into the open.

Scott Cooper writes in Medium about a different take on Veterans Day this year

Vox writes on what President Trump can and cannot do in office.

The Associated Press reports an increasing crackdown on blasphemy in Europe.

We’re Watching

Veterans from across the nation are speaking out against divisiveness in the aftermath of a particularly contentious election cycle. Last Friday, in honor of Veterans Day, Veterans for American Ideals released a video featuring proud veterans standing up for unity.

Around Town & On the Hill

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Woodrow Wilson Center will host a discussion entitled, “What Does the World Expect of President-elect Donald Trump?” The discussion will feature Jane Harman, Director, President and CEO of the Wilson Center; Cynthia Arnson, Director of the Latin American Program at Woodrow Wilson Center; Robert Litwak, Vice President for Scholars and Academic Relations and Director of International Security Studies at Woodrow Wilson Center; Aaron David Miller, Vice President for New Initiatives and Distinguished Scholar at Woodrow Wilson Center; Matthew Rojansky, Director of the Kennan Institute; Duncan Wood, Director of the Mexico Institute. 11:00 AM, Woodrow Wilson Center, Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, One Woodrow Wilson Plaza, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW, 6th Floor, Washington, D.C.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies will host an event entitled, “Turning Point: A New Comprehensive Strategy for Countering Violent Extremism.” The event will feature Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; Leon Panetta, Former Secretary of Defense and Former CIA Director; Mohammed Magid, Imam, All Dulles Area Muslim Society and Chairman, International Interfaith Peace Corps; Farah Pandith, Former Special Representative to Muslim Communities and Adjunct Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations; Jane Rosenthal, Executive Chair, Tribeca Enterprises and Co-Founder, the Tribeca Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Institute; Mary Louise Kelly, National Security Correspondent, National Public Radio. 1:00 PM, CSIS Headquarters, 1616 Rhode Island Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Middle East Institute will hold their 70th Annual Banquet and Conference to discuss Middle East Policy Challenges for the Next Administration 9:00 AM, Capitol Hilton Hotel, 1001 16th Street NW, Washington, D.C.

The Institute of World Politics will hold a presentation entitled, “The State Department’s Mission in Combating Human Trafficking.” The presentation will feature Jane Nady Sigmon, Senior Advisor to the Director of the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. 5:00 PM, The Institute of World Politics, 1521 16th Street NW, Washington, D.C.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Center for Strategic and International Studies will host the “Transatlantic Forum on Russia.” The forum will feature Slawomir Debski, Director of the Polish Institute of International Affairs; Andreas Umland, Fellow at the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation; Catherine Dale, Director of the Center for Russia and Eurasia at RAND; David Cadier, TAPIR Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at SAIS; Senator Ben Cardin; Zbigniew Lewicki, Head of Department of American Studies at University Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski; Olga Oliker, Senior Adviser and Director of the Russia and Eurasia Program at CSIS, Ernest Wyciszkiewicz, Director at the Center for Polish-Russian Dialogue and Understanding. 8:00 AM, CSIS Headquarters, 1616 Rhode Island Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.

The Council on Foreign Relations will hold an event entitled, ‘A Conversation with Adam Smith.’ The event will feature Congressman Adam Smith, Ranking Member on the House Armed Services Committee (D-WA). 8:30 AM, Livestreamed at

House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence will hold a full committee hearing on intelligence community support to the U.S. Department of Defense. 9:00 AM EST, location to be decided.

New America will host a discussion entitled, “The Master Plan: ISIS’ Strategy for Final Victory.” 12:15 PM, New America, 740 15th Street NW #900, Washington, D.C.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies will host a conversation entitled, “Public Diplomacy and National Security in the Obama Administration.”3:30 PM, CSIS Headquarters, 1616 Rhode Island Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.