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

Middle East and North Africa

Turkey’s geography and membership in NATO have long given the country an influential voice in foreign policy, but the assertive policies of President Erdogan have complicated its role.

Religion

For the past two thousand years, the pope has been a major player in global affairs. He is frequently called upon to act as a peace broker, a mediator, an advocate, and an influencer; and with over 1.3 billion followers around the world, the pope and his governmental arm, the Holy See, have the power to shape the future. How has the pope's power changed over time, and what is his role today?  

Public Health Threats and Pandemics

Opioid addiction in the United States has become a prolonged epidemic, endangering not only public health but also economic output and national security.