Washington Week on Human Rights: September 28, 2015

Top News

Global Refugee Crisis On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Immigration and National Interest Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the Obama Administration’s Fiscal Year 2016 refugee resettlement program. The hearing comes a week after Pope Francis urged Washington leaders to seek a compassionate response to the largest refugee crisis since World War II. According to the United Nations, 7.6 million people are currently displaced in Syria and need immediate humanitarian assistance, and over 4 million have fled due to conflict and persecution. Many of these refugees have been stranded for years in neighboring countries where they cannot work or support their families, have little access to education, and lack access to basic care. The U.N. global humanitarian appeal for Syrian refugees is only 38 percent funded, and food assistance has been cut. Without meaningful access to resettlement in other safe countries, many are turning to more dangerous routes to reach places of safety where they can rebuild their lives. So far, the United States has committed to increase its overall refugee resettlement for the year only by 15,000, and has committed to resettle “at least 10,000” Syrian refugees in fiscal year 2016. Human Rights First continues to urge the Obama Administration to lead a global effort to address the situation, including increasing the overall refugee ceiling to 200,000 to support a commitment to resettle at least 100,000 Syrian refugees during the next fiscal year.

United Nations This morning, President Obama addressed the United Nations General Assembly in a speech that focused on efforts to address key human rights issues such as international efforts to counter violent extremism (CVE), the global refugee crisis and devastating, destabilizing conflicts in Syria and elsewhere. Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, French President François Hollande, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani are also on today’s agenda. Tomorrow, President Obama will chair a Leaders Summit on Countering ISIL and Violent Extremism. This is a follow-up to the White House Summit on countering violent extremism held in Washington, D.C. in February. This week’s meeting will set forth a more comprehensive strategy for combatting terrorism and violent extremism, including renewed emphasis on upholding human rights as an indispensable part of CVE policy. Last week, Human Rights First and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies urged President Obama to press for firm commitments from governments taking part in the Leader’s Summit and to stress the obligations of states to protect the human rights and freedoms in order to achieve lasting stability and security. For more information, see the Human Rights First backgrounder on “The Role of Human Rights in Countering Violent Extremism.

Quote of the Week

“If we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities.”

—Pope Francis, Congressional Address on September 24, 2015

We’re Reading

As Pope Francis arrived in the United States, Birmingham Mayor William Bell’s piece for CNN urged the Pope to unite the U.S. government and faith communities in the fight against human trafficking.

Roll Call discussed the Pope’s address before Congress, highlighting support for his call to for the United States to do more to address the Syrian refugee crisis.

Writing for Al Jazeera America, Human Rights First’s Adam Jacobson argued that U.S. prisons are more than capable of securely handling Gitmo detainees.

Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley made the case in a piece for Roll Call for Congress to rectify the State Department’s mistakes on Bahrain by reinstating the ban on the sale of arms to the repressive regime.

In a piece for The Hill, Human Rights First’s Annick Febrey highlighted five things the new head of the State Department’s office to combat human trafficking should focus on.

We’re Listening

In a report featuring Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer, National Public Radio’s Michele Kelemen examined the global refugee crisis and how the United States is responding to it.

ON THE HILL

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2015

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on “The U.S. Role and Strategy in the Middle East: The Humanitarian Crisis.” Michel Gabaudan, president of Refugees International, Washington, D.C.; Nancy Lindborg, president of the U.S. Institute of Peace; and David Miliband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, New York, N.Y., will testify. 10AM, 419 Dirksen Senate Office Building

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on “The U.S. Role and Strategy in the Middle East: The Humanitarian Crisis.” Michel Gabaudan, president of Refugees International, Washington, D.C.; Nancy Lindborg, president of the U.S. Institute of Peace; and David Miliband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, New York, N.Y., will testify. 10AM, 419 Dirksen Senate Office Building

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2015

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Immigration and the National Interest Subcommittee will hold a hearing on “Oversight of the Administration’s FY2016 Refugee Resettlement Program: Fiscal and Security Implications. 2PM, 226 Dirksen Senate Office Building

AROUND TOWN

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2015

The George Washington University (GWU) Elliott School of International Affairs will hold a discussion on “October Elections: An Opening of Pandora’s Ballot Box?” focusing on Belarus, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. The event will feature Valery Kavaleuski, director of strategy and public affairs at the Belarusan American Association of Washington; Robert Orttung, assistant director of the GWU Institute for European, Russia and Eurasian Studies; and Erica Marat, assistant professor at National Defense University. 3PM, GWU Elliott School, 1957 E Street NW, Voesar Conference Room, Suite 412, Washington, D.C.

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2015

The Brookings Institution will hold a discussion on “The Syrian Refugee Crisis: Challenges for Syria’s Neighbors and the International Community.” The event will feature Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration Simon Henshaw; Gregory Maniatis, senior European fellow at the Migration Policy Institute; Alar Olljum, visiting fellow at the Brookings’ Center on the United States and Europe; and Brookings Senior Fellows Elizabeth Ferris and Kemal Kirisci. 10:30AM, Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.

The Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID) will host a discussion on “Tunisia’s Democratic Transition: Will It Succeed? What can the U.S. do to help?” The event will feature Tunisian Minister of Foreign Affairs Rafik Abdessalem. 3PM, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1779 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2015

The McCain Institute and the Woolf Institute will host a discussion on “Religion and International Affairs: Whose Side is God on?” The event will feature State Department Special Representative for Religion and Global Affairs Shaun Casey; Hassan Abbas, professor of international security studies at National Defense University; Edward Kessler, founding director of the Woolf Institute; Farah Pandith, adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations; and Kurt Volker, executive director of the McCain Institute. 12:30PM, 1777 F Street NW, Washington, D.C.

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Published on September 28, 2015

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