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US: Senate Confirm Head of Human Rights, Democracy

Senate Confirms New Head of Human Rights, Democracy Bureau

State's Lowenkron pledges to support U.S. protection of human rights worldwide

Washington -- Barry Lowenkron, former deputy director of policy planning for the Department of State, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor on October 7.

Appearing before the U.S. Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee on September 30, Lowenkron said that, if confirmed, he would continue the bureau’s work of supporting and promoting democracy and human rights worldwide.

“The role of democracy and human rights in our foreign policy is as old as the republic,” he said. “The question has never been whether, but how best to advance these principles.”

Lowenkron will be responsible for overseeing the production of the annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the International Religious Freedom Reports that are used by Congress and international organizations as a guide to the status of human rights around the world.

Pledging to continue his bureau’s “critical work shedding light on and developing the means to combat human rights abuses,” Lowenkron said, “President Bush could not be clearer. These are the non-negotiable demands of human dignity.”

The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor also acts as the U.S. government’s primary democracy advocate by supporting democratization programs such as election monitoring and parliamentary development. Lowenkron said the bureau would continue to support those who are working to bring democracy to their countries. “Those courageous men and women may often feel their voices are lonely ones, but they must never, never feel that they are alone.”

At the September 30 committee hearing, Chairman Richard Lugar, a Republican from Indiana, noted the important role that Lowenkron will play in his role as assistant secretary.

“The United States is a leading advocate for improvement in human rights practices, including respect for democracy and religious freedom,” Lugar said, adding that the assistant secretary “plays a fundamental role in ensuring that these interests remain a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy.”

Additional information about the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor is available on the State Department’s Web site.

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