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International Human Rights Committee Elects Rep. Aderholt (R-AL) to Serve as Vice-Chair

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In a report released today, it was noted that Congressperson Robert B. Aderholt (R-AL) was elected Vice-Chair of the General Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions. The appointment came during the 18th Annual Session of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA) in Vilnius, Lithuania.

A member of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission), Congressman Robert B. Aderholt has been a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives since 1997, representing Alabama's 4th congressional district. As vice-chair of the committee, Representative Aderholt will provide leadership in setting the agenda on democracy and human rights issues before the Parliamentary Assembly. The Assembly helps steer the policy direction of the OSCE in monitoring and encouraging the 56 participating states to comply with international commitments on security, economic and environmental issues and human rights.

Representative Robert B. Aderholt said of the appointment, "I am honored to be elected Vice Chair of this committee, and I look forward to representing U.S. interests and engagement abroad ... History has shown us that during times of economic hardship, vulnerable minorities often pay the price. Therefore, now more than ever, it is imperative that the United States play an active role in promoting human rights, individual liberties and ethnic and religious tolerance."

Chairperson of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission), Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), said, "I commend Congressman Aderholt for seeking a leadership position on the Human Rights Committee and am confident that Congressman Aderholt's presence as Vice Chair will ensure the committee's work remains relevant and responsive to the challenges our countries face in the years ahead." Co-Chairperson Congressperson Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) said, "I congratulate my colleague in his ascension to Vice Chair, and believe that his lifetime commitment to human rights, including active participation in the U.S. Helsinki Commission, will serve him well in this new leadership capacity."

Despite published statements of support regarding the appointment, some in the international community are reserving judgment. Representative Aderholt's voting record is generally conservative and as such many are concerned that his ideological basis will be in conflict with a more progressive agenda advocated by many within the human rights community.

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Lawrence J. Gist II is a dedicated pro bono attorney and counselor at law, adjunct professor of legal studies at Mount St. Mary's College in Los Angeles, CA, a member of the board of directors of the Institute of Indigenous Knowledges, and a veteran (more...)
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