Commission on Unalienable Rights Report Undermines Human Rights


16 July 2020

Media Contact: Daina Ruduša,, +1 (917) 622-1865

Commission on Unalienable Rights Report Undermines Human Rights

On 16 July 2020 The Commission on Unalienable Rights, founded this time last year to provide the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with advice “on human rights grounded in our nation’s founding principles and the principles of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, issued a draft report to the public. 

The report paints the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a document that is outranked by national level legislation. Concluding remark 6 highlights that “Nation-states have some leeway to base their human rights policy on their own distinctive national traditions”. Moreover, some rights are elevated above others - page 38 states “decisions about the priority of rights are not only inescapable but desirable. In many circumstances certain rights have a necessary logical precedence.” 

The report also cautions against what it calls “new rights”, asserting on page 39 that “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.” The report proposes that “new rights” need to be tested for consistency with “constitutional principles and moral, political, and legal traditions” - all arguments which are often used to deny LGBTIQ people of their human rights.

Deputy Executive Director of OutRight Action International, Maria Sjödin, comments:

“The fundamental principle of human rights is universality - human rights belong to us all, regardless of religious denomination, gender, race, sexual orientation, or any other number of distinguishing features. By using human rights language the report claims to safeguard human rights, while in fact doing the opposite. It positions international human rights law as secondary to national legislation, elevates one human right over another, and equates “unalienable rights” to “natural law” and “natural rights” - terms used to describe a social order which is often characterized by male-domination, subservience of women, racial inequality, and complete erasure of LGBTIQ people.”

A two week public consultation follows the release of this report. OutRight urges progressive civil society and individuals to make submissions and challenge the misleading and dangerous interpretation of human rights promoted by the Commission. Please route them to and/or Designated Federal Officer Duncan Walker, who may be reached at



OutRight Action International works at a global, regional and national level to eradicate the persecution, inequality, and violence lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ) people face around the world. From its offices in 7 countries and headquarters in New York, OutRight builds capacity of LGBTIQ movements, documents human rights violations, advocates for inclusion and equality, and holds leaders accountable for protecting the rights of LGBTIQ people everywhere. OutRight has recognized consultative status at the United Nations.