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Civil Society

Civil And Constitutional Rights, Liberties, And Human Rights Latest Statements, Briefings, And Hearings

Here are summaries of and links to recent web sites and documents relevant to Civil and Constitutional Rights, Liberties, and Human Rights: 

U.S. Counterterrorism Strategy
Remarks by President Obama at the National Defense University, May 23, 2013 

We must define the nature and scope of this struggle, or else it will define us.  We have to be mindful of James Madison’s warning that “No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”  Neither I, nor any President, can promise the total defeat of terror.  We will never erase the evil that lies in the hearts of some human beings, nor stamp out every danger to our open society.  But what we can do -- what we must do -- is dismantle networks that pose a direct danger to us, and make it less likely for new groups to gain a foothold, all the while maintaining the freedoms and ideals that we defend.  And to define that strategy, we have to make decisions based not on fear, but on hard-earned wisdom.  That begins with understanding the current threat that we face.
Read more... 

See also:

U.S. Policy Standards and Procedures for the Use of Force in Counterterrorism Operations Outside the United States and Areas of Active Hostilities
White House fact sheet, May 23, 2013
Read more... 

Remarks at the Annual Meeting of the President's Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
John Kerry, Secretary of State, White House, May 17, 2013 

I was just stunned by the stories, the examples of the evil that Valerie just referred to and the President talked about. It is nothing less than the most predatory, extraordinarily abusive modern slavery that you could conceivably imagine. And the stories, the instances of young girls, some on occasion less than in their teens, most often in teens and upwards, women, the degradation, the depravity, not just in terms of sex traffic and sex trade but also labor, in the labor market. And there are so many good efforts that are going on here.
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International Religious Freedom Report  2012
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Department of State, May 20, 2013
Read more...

See also:

Remarks on the Release of the International Religious Freedom Report 
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, May 20, 2013 

This report is a clear-eyed, objective look at the state of religious freedom around the world. And when necessary, yes, it does directly call out some of our close friends, as well as some countries with whom we seek stronger ties. And it does so in order to try to make progress, even though we know that it may cause some discomfort.
But when countries undermine or attack religious freedom, they not only unjustly threaten those whom they target; they also threaten their country’s own stability. And we see that in so many places. Attacks on religious freedom are therefore both a moral and a strategic national security concern for the United States.
Read more...

 

U.S. Policy and Programs in Support of International Religious Freedom
Fact sheet, U.S. Dept of State, May 20, 2013 

The Obama Administration has prioritized integrating religious freedom and religion writ large into the U.S. Government’s broader foreign policy objectives. Specifically, the Department of State has emphasized freedom of religion and protection of religious minorities by: 1) encouraging accountability for religious-based violence and ensuring the protection of citizens and places of worship; 2) urging governments to adopt legal protections for religious freedom and minorities and to amend or rescind restrictive laws; and 3) promoting societal respect for religious freedom and diversity.
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Refugees and Asylees: 2012 
U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, April 2013

The United States provides refuge to persons who have been persecuted or have a well-founded fear of persecution through two programs: a refugee program for persons outside the U.S. and their immediate relatives and an asylum program for persons in the U.S. and their immediate relatives. This Office of Immigration Statistics Annual Flow Report provides information on the number of persons admitted to the United States as refugees or granted asylum in the United States in 2012.
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2013 Refugee Resettlement Conferences
Anne C. Richard, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, May 20, 2013

There are a series of issues I’d like to address today, ranging from refugee crises overseas to our own domestic programs that resettle refugees in America and help them to rebuild their lives. I want to update you on the latest actions of the Bureau of Population Refugees and Migration during what is proving to be a busy time.Devastating overseas emergencies are pushing more and more refugees from their homes, and the United States plays a leading role in responding to these emergencies. Our overall approach to responding to these crises will remain consistent: working multilaterally with international organization partners such as the UN Refugee Agency (or UNHCR), the International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Organization for Migration; focusing on protection and finding safe places for refugees to re-start their lives; and burden-sharing with host governments as well as other donor governments. We will also continue to look to aid agencies that serve as our partners and augment the international response.
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Protecting the Future: Professional Standards in Humanitarian and Human Rights Work
Anne C. Richard, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, May 9, 2013

In recent years, humanitarians have increasingly sought not only to assist people affected by conflicts and natural disasters, but also to protect them. Humanitarians define protection as activities undertaken to obtain full respect for the rights of the individual.  By “rights” I mean basic human rights and rights conferred by humanitarian and refugee law. Some of these activities are focused on improving physical security and well-being. But humanitarians use the term to mean much more than that. It can be steps to prevent or put a stop to abuse. Other preventive measures provide a more secure environment or help for victims.
It rarely means providing a bodyguard or guaranteeing complete protection. And in her book The Politics of Protection, Elizabeth Ferris examined inconsistent ways in which protection is defined and applied. So we must always strive to do better.
Read more...  

"Invisible in the City": Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
Anne C. Richard, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, May 7, 2013

It has been over 20 years since Fidel Armanda Tobos Alfonso, a gay man from Cuba, was allowed to remain in the United States based on a judgement or understanding that he was at risk because of his sexual orientation. The Toboso-Alfonso decision paved the way for hundreds of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals as well as individuals with intersex conditions, to obtain refuge and asylum in the United States.
From the beginning of his Administration, President Obama has promoted the equal rights of LGBT people both at home and abroad. His Memorandum of December 2011 affirmed United States’s commitment to promoting the human rights of sexual minorities and specifically directed U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance agencies to protect vulnerable LGBT refugees and asylum seekers.
Read more... 

Remarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, On Receiving the Louis E. Martin Great American Award
May 7, 2013

But, we also know that there is so much more to do—from common sense gun control to comprehensive immigration reform, from tackling poverty and stubborn unemployment to building an education system for the 21st century. The next generation deserves the support and opportunities that so many of us have had. They need the tools and the spirit to compete in a global economy. We owe to them a future where equality is real no matter who you are or who you love; a future where prosperity is possible for all, including those held back by poverty or kept down by bigotry.
These challenges are urgent and serious for all Americans, but they are particularly critical for the African American community, which has suffered disproportionately from the Great Recession. We all know unemployment is much higher among African Americans, and poverty is more pervasive. Too many of our kids still grow up without fathers and risk their lives just to attend failing schools. We’re still struggling to access educational opportunities and even to be able to exercise the right to vote.
Read more...  

U.S. Views on Population, Reproductive Health, and Rights
Anne C. Richard, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, Funders Network on Population, Reproductive Health, and Rights, May 16, 2013

Today I'm going to speak about the Obama Administration's efforts to promote reproductive health and rights, and incorporate population issues more broadly into our policies, especially as we engage in post-2015 development framework discussions and processes. The mid-point of the Administration provides an opportunity to take stock and assess what we've accomplished so far, and what work remains to be done. Right now, the U.S. government is in the early stages of considering our positions on the post-2015 development framework and upcoming multilateral review processes. I’d like to discuss these with you and then I'll touch on the challenges and successes of recent international negotiations where Margaret Pollack and Beth Schlachter have played leadership roles. Read more... 

Washington D.C. Release of "Global IDP Overview 2012" Report
Anne C. Richard, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, Brookings Institute, May 24, 2013

Congratulations to the Norwegian Refugee Council and its Internal Displacement Monitoring Center on an excellent global report. [The Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration] widely uses this report and looks forward to its release each year. The report serves as an important PRM reference for IDP information. State Department has placed a priority on strengthening coverage of displacement issues in our annual Human Rights Country Reports, and the information contained in IDMC’s Global IDP Report is an valuable resource in preparing the Human Rights Report. We appreciate IDMC’s analysis, the identification of trends, and the report’s useful way of framing global IDP issues. Read more... 

Protecting U.S. Citizens’ Constitutional Rights during the War on Terror 
Hearing before the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary, May 22, 2013 

Mr. Robert M. Chesney, Charles I. Francis Professor of Law, The University of Texas School of Law

Mr. Benjamin Wittes, Senior Fellow and Research Director in Public Law, The Brookings Institution

Mr. Steven A. Engel, Partner, Dechert, LLP

Ms. Mary Ellen O’Connell, Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame The Law School

Read more... 

Local and Private Sector Initiatives to Combat International Human Trafficking 
Hearing before the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, May 7, 2013   

Mr. Don Knabe, Supervisor, Fourth District, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors

Mr. Bradley Myles, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Polaris Project

Shawn MacDonald, Ph.D., Director of Programs and Research, Verité

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Diversity Management: Trends and Practices in the Financial Services Industry and Agencies after the Recent Financial Crisis  
U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), April 2013

As the U.S. workforce has become increasingly diverse, many private- and public-sector entities recognize the importance of recruiting and retaining minorities and women for management-level positions to improve their business. The 2007-2009 financial crisis has renewed questions about commitment within the financial services industry (e.g., banking and securities) to workforce diversity. The Dodd-Frank Act required that eight federal financial agencies and the Federal Reserve Banks implement provisions to support workforce and contractor diversity. GAO was asked to review trends and practices since the beginning of the financial crisis. This report examines (1) workforce diversity in the financial services industry, the federal financial agencies, and Reserve Banks, from 2007 through 2011 and (2) efforts of the agencies and Reserve Banks to implement workforce diversity practices under the Dodd-Frank Act, including contracting. GAO analyzed federal datasets and documents and interviewed industry representatives and officials from the federal financial agencies and Reserve Banks.
Full report  (117 pages)
Summary

 

After Boston, Little Change in Views of Islam and Violence
45% say Muslim Americans Face 'A Lot' of Discrimination

The public’s views of whether Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence have changed little in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings.
Currently, 42% say Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence among its believers, while 46% say Islam does not encourage violence more than other religions.
These are similar to opinions about Islam and violence for most of the past decade. But in March 2002, six months after the 9/11 attacks, just 25% said Islam was more likely to encourage violence while 51% disagreed. Read more... 

The Diversifying Electorate -- Voting Rates by Race and Hispanic Origin in 2012 (and Other Recent Elections).
U.S. Census Bureau. May 8, 2013.

About two in three eligible blacks (66.2 percent) voted in the 2012 presidential election, higher than the 64.1 percent of non-Hispanic whites who did so, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report released today. This marks the first time that blacks have voted at a higher rate than whites since the Census Bureau started publishing statistics on voting by the eligible citizen population in 1996. The report provides analysis of the likelihood of voting by demographic factors, such as race, Hispanic origin, sex, age and geography (specifically, census divisions). It draws upon data from the November 2012 Current Population Survey Voting and Registration Supplement and looks at presidential elections back to 1996. Using the race definitions from 1968 and the total voting-age population, whites voted at higher rates than blacks in every presidential election between 1968, when the Census Bureau began publishing voting data by race, and 1992.
Read more...   [13 pages].

See also:

Six Take-Aways from the Census Bureau’s Voting Report 
Pew Research Center, May 8, 2013   
Read more...   

Freedom of the Press 2013: Middle East Volatility amid Global Decline.
Freedom House. May 2013.

The percentage of the world's population living in societies with a fully free press has fallen to its lowest level in over a decade, according to the report. An overall downturn in global media freedom in 2012 was punctuated by dramatic decline in Mali, deterioration in Greece, and a further tightening of controls in Latin America. Moreover, conditions remained uneven in the Middle East and North Africa, with Tunisia and Libya largely retaining gains from 2011 even as Egypt experienced significant backsliding. The report finds that despite positive developments in Burma, the Caucasus, parts of West Africa, and elsewhere, the dominant trend was one of setbacks in a range of political settings. Reasons for decline included the increasingly sophis­ticated repression of independent journalism and new media by authoritarian regimes; the ripple effects of the European economic crisis and longer-term challenges to the financial sustainability of print media; and ongoing threats from nonstate actors such as radical Islamists and organized crime groups.
HTML format with links to country reports 

How to End the Forever War.
YaleGlobal. Harold Honju Koh. May 14, 2013.

Ending a war can be more time-consuming and challenging than starting one, especially the so-called global war on terror that has defied conventional notions. Harold Hongju Koh, professor of law and former dean of Yale Law School, describes how the war on terror transformed into endless war. He urges ending what he calls the Forever War through disengagement from Afghanistan, closure of Guantanamo and greater discipline over the use of drones. According to Koh, transparent, agreed-upon domestic and international legal process and standards are essential for starting and ending wars of all types.
Read more...   [HTML format, various paging]. 

U.S. Development Policy in an Aging World.
Center for Strategic & International Studies. Richard Jackson et al. May 20, 2013.

The demographic transformation sweeping the emerging world has profound implications for U.S. development policy. The challenge is no longer helping countries overcome the obstacles to development posed by high birthrates and rapid population growth, but leveraging the opportunities created by falling birthrates and slowing population growth.
Read more...   [34 pages]. 

Strengthening U.S. Investments in Women’s Global Health: A Trip Report of the CSIS Delegation to Zambia, March 2013
Janet Fleischman, Alisha Kramer, CSIS, May 21, 2013

U.S. policymakers and private-sector partners increasingly appreciate the importance of targeted U.S. investments in women’s health to achieve global health outcomes, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. With budgetary constraints worsening, progress in women’s health will require maximizing investments by engaging new partners, identifying program synergies, and aligning with countries’ national priorities to meet women’s needs. Such strategic coordination—involving maternal newborn and child health, voluntary family planning, and HIV and AIDS services—presents new opportunities to expand the impact of U.S. investments.
In March 2013, the CSIS Global Health Policy Center led a delegation to Zambia to examine the opportunities and challenges of strengthening U.S. policy approaches to women’s global health issues. CSIS chose to visit Zambia because of the new level of political will and leadership on women’s health issues in the country; women leaders, in particular, are in an exceptional position to drive forward country ownership, including Zambia’s first lady and other high-level government health officials. The CSIS delegation included CSIS staff, senior staff from four congressional offices, and a representative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This is the latest in a series of delegations that CSIS has led to investigate U.S. global health policy in Africa, and it builds on an extensive body of work that CSIS has produced on women’s global health and U.S. policy. Read more...     

Advancing Global Food Security: The Power of Science, Trade, and Business 
Independent Advisory Group on Global Agricultural Development. Chicago Council on Global Affairs, May 2013

A new report from The Chicago Council on Global Affairs urges the U.S. government to focus its global food security strategy on prioritizing science, increasing trade flows for agriculture and food, and incentivizing greater business activity in low-income countries. The report, Advancing Global Food Security: The Power of Science, Trade, and Business, makes four broad policy recommendations composed of 21 specific actions to define the next steps for U.S. global food security policy.
Summary
Full report  (136 pages)

See also:

Advancing Food Security by Opening Markets 
By Ambassador Isi Siddiqui, chief agricultural negotiator at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, May 21, 2013 
Read more... 

 

Updated: May 28, 2013

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