Move swiftly on Global Criminal Justice Ambassador
from International Institutions and Global Governance Program

Move swiftly on Global Criminal Justice Ambassador

Originally published at the Hill

January 18, 2022 11:30 am (EST)

Article
Current political and economic issues succinctly explained.

In the final hours prior to the Senate’s recess last month, it was heartening to see many of President Joe Biden’s nominees for ambassadorships confirmed. Lengthy gaps in the leadership of America’s global diplomatic corps can undermine the integrity of U.S. foreign policy and risk national security.       

More From Our Experts

Still missing, however, is America’s coordinating leadership, both in Washington and abroad, in the pursuit of international justice. Biden’s nominee for Ambassador at Large for Global Criminal Justice, Beth Van Schaack, awaits a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a Senate vote. This empty chair in Foggy Bottom is all the more impactful as atrocity crimes, such as genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, continue to wreak havoc across the globe — mass murders and rape, ethnic cleansing, and ceaseless destruction of civilian habitats that spawn chaos and instability and shock our consciences. Awaiting the new ambassador at large is a long list of situations where U.S. leadership is needed to strengthen accountability for atrocity crimes, including in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, Syria, Yemen, Myanmar, Cameroon, the Xinjiang region of China, Venezuela, North Korea, Sudan, and South Sudan.

More on:

International Law

Diplomacy and International Institutions

U.S. State Department

Genocide and Mass Atrocities

U.S. Congress

All of these unfortunate realities are, or should be, nonpartisan as they go to the core of human existence. They demonstrate, in spades, the need to enhance U.S. multilateral leadership, intra-governmental coordination, and creative ideas about how to prevent and respond to atrocities. We know from our own respective years in this position that the leadership of the Office of Global Criminal Justice (GCJ) in the State Department is critical to help ensure that atrocity crimes, first and foremost, are rightfully focused upon and that new challenges of accountability are properly addressed.

There also are justice issues being pursued before the International Court of Justice where an American judge sits, the U.N. Human Rights Council where the United States recently was elected to a seat, and in domestic courts at home and abroad. Review of a crimes against humanity bill to fill gaps in the federal criminal code also awaits Congress. The ambassador at large would help coordinate the U.S. government’s engagement on all these fronts.

Van Schaack, an accomplished academic and former deputy at GCJ, will not be alone if confirmed. For example, the Senate was smart to confirm three of the senior officials who will be critical to enforcing the Uyghur Forced Labor Act: Ambassador to China R. Nicholas Burns; the State Department’s Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs, Ramin Toloui; and the Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, Rashad Hussain. The Act will provide sharper economic and labor tools to address labor exploitation as part of efforts to achieve accountability and justice for the atrocity crimes committed against China’s Uyghur citizens. 

More From Our Experts

We urge the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and then the full Senate, to move quickly on this important diplomatic post, which Van Schaack would be the first woman to fill.

More on:

International Law

Diplomacy and International Institutions

U.S. State Department

Genocide and Mass Atrocities

U.S. Congress

Creative Commons
Creative Commons: Some rights reserved.
Close
This work is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) License.
View License Detail
Close

Top Stories on CFR

United States

Violence during the election season undermines the United States’ democracy, its relationship with allies, and its strength against adversaries.

Burkina Faso

The latest military coup d’état would seem to be the least of Burkina Faso’s problems.

Iran

 Iran is seeing its biggest protests since 2019 over the death of Kurdish Iranian woman Mahsa Amini. Pro-women, anti-morality police demonstrations evolving into broader anti-government protests. Drawing international support and a crackdown by the regime.