Blinken ends Trump rights plan promoting conservative agenda

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a sharp rebuke to Trump-era policies, Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday formally scrapped a blueprint championed by his predecessor to limit United States (US) promotion of human rights abroad to causes favoured by conservatives like property matters.

Blinken said a report prepared for former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that sought to pare down the number of freedoms prioritised in US foreign policy was “unbalanced”, did not reflect Biden administration policies and would not guide them. The report from Pompeo’s Commission on Unalienable Rights had been harshly criticised by human rights groups.

“One of the core principles of human rights is that they are universal. All people are entitled to these rights, no matter where they’re born, what they believe or any other characteristic,” Blinken said.

“Past unbalanced statements that suggest such a hierarchy, including those offered by a recently disbanded State Department advisory committee, do not represent a guiding document for this administration,” he said. “At my confirmation hearing, I promised that the Biden-Harris Administration would repudiate those unbalanced views. We do so decisively today.”

Blinken made the announcement repudiating the commission’s report as he rolled out the annual human rights reports. The reports, covering last year, highlighted a declining trend in human rights around the world and the impact that the coronavirus pandemic had on rights practices. It noted that some governments had “used the crisis as a pretext to restrict rights and consolidate authoritarian rule”.