The founders of the United States, said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, “changed the course of history when they established a nation built on the premise that government exists not to diminish or cancel the individual’s rights at the whim of those in power, but to secure them.”
On July 8, 2019, Secretary Pompeo commissioned a group of scholars and activists to “furnish advice on human rights grounded in [America’s] founding principles and the principles of the 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights.” This endeavor, known as the Commission on Unalienable Rights, recently issued a draft report.
Welcoming the release of the commission’s draft report, Secretary Pompeo confirmed that the United States was founded on certain unalienable rights without which “our efforts to protect and promote human rights is unmoored, and therefore, destined to fail:”
“America’s founders didn’t invent ‘unalienable rights,’ but stated very clearly in the Declaration of Independence that they are held as ‘self-evident’ that human beings were ‘created equal’ and ‘endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. . .among [those] are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’”
Secretary Pompeo went to say:
“No one can enjoy the pursuit of happiness if you cannot own the fruits of your own labor, and no society can retain its legitimacy or a virtuous character without religious freedom."
It is clear that “unalienable rights are central to who we are as Americans,” and so they too, must “underpin our foreign policy,” said Secretary Pompeo:
“If we truly believe that rights are unalienable, inviolate, enduring, indeed, universal, just as the founders did, then defending them ought to be the bedrock of our every diplomatic endeavor.”
Indeed, America’s commitment to unalienable rights at home has proved a beacon of hope for men and women abroad pursuing their own liberties. One such example is Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky. When he heard of President Ronald Reagan’s “Evil Empire” speech while imprisoned, he said it was a “ray of hope” in the darkness of his punishment cell.
“I am confident,” said Secretary Pompeo, “that the American star will shine across the heavens, so long as we keep a proper understanding of unalienable rights at the center of our unending quest to secure freedom for our own people and all of mankind.”