Commission on Unalienable Rights’ Report Denounced by Pro-Aborts

By Marie Smith, Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues

The eleven members of the Commission on Unalienable Rights, established by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last year to “provide the Secretary with advice on human rights grounded in our nation’s founding principles and the principles of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, released their draft report the public on July 16.

The introduction includes the Commission’s concern that “human rights are now misunderstood by many, manipulated by some, rejected by the world’s worst violators, and subject to ominous new threats.”

The report begins with a look at the founding documents of the United States and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which emerged following WWII and was for the first time a universal recognition of the inherent dignity of human beings.

In explaining unalienable rights, the Commission states: “To say that a right, as the founders understood it, is unalienable is to signify that it is inseparable from our humanity, and thereby to distinguish it from other sorts of rights. The most fundamental distinction is between unalienable rights — sometimes referred to as natural rights in the founding era and today commonly called human rights — and positive rights. Unalienable rights are universal and nontransferable. They are pre-political in the sense that they are not created by persons or society but rather set standards for politics. They owe their existence not to the determinations of authorities or to the practices of different traditions but to the fundamental features of our humanity. They are not founded merely on custom, law, or preference. Human beings never lose their unalienable rights — though they can be violated — because such rights are essential to the dignity and capacity for freedom that are woven into human nature.”

The report warns of the dangers of the rapid expansion of what are considered to be human rights by different U.N. agencies, regional human rights systems and specialized organizations like UNESCO stating that as a result, “there are now dozens of treaties, hundreds of resolutions and declarations, and thousands of provisions codifying individual human rights beyond those contained in the nine best-known UN human rights treaties. There is good reason to worry that the prodigious expansion of human rights has weakened rather than strengthened the claims of human rights and left the most disadvantaged more vulnerable. More rights do not always yield more justice. Transforming every worthy political preference into a claim of human rights inevitably dilutes the authority of human rights.

“Caution” in endorsing claims of human rights is advised by the Commission as it states “…the United States should be open but cautious in its willingness to endorse new claims of human rights. This will necessarily raise difficult questions about whether some specific rights claim is legitimately within the scope of the UDHR’s principles and commitments.”

Despite criticism by pro-abortion activist organizations, the Commission takes no position on abortion or other reproductive or sexual issues but rather states that “like our fellow Americans, are not of one mind on many issues where there are conflicting interpretations of human rights claims — abortion, affirmative action, and capital punishment, to name a few.”

Yet, submissions made to the Commission by radical organizations have been highly critical reflecting their fear that the Commission and its report would contradict their promotion of abortion and other issues as so-called human rights. …

During the launch of the report, Secretary of State Pompeo explained why he asked for the Commission: “Too many human rights advocacy groups have traded proud principles for partisan politics. And that’s why I asked Professor Glendon to form a commission composed of some of the most distinguished scholars and activists.

“Because without this grounding – without this grounding our efforts to protect and promote human rights is unmoored and, therefore, destined to fail.

“These rights, these unalienable rights, are essential. They are a foundation upon which this country was built. They are central to who we are and to what we care about as Americans.”

In his remarks, Secretary Pompeo referred to Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s opening prayer which stated “America’s founders didn’t invent the ‘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’.”

Past submissions to the Commission can be found here, including the submission from 167 individuals and organizations organized by the leading pro-abortion NGOs Center for Reproductive Rights, Human Rights Watch, and International Women’s Health Coalition. …

The Commission is currently accepting submissions on its report for a two-week period which began on July 16 and ends on July 30.

Submissions should be emailed to and/or to Duncan Walker at