Dreier, Lantos Introduce Key Diplomatic Legislation

April 15, 2003

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WASHINGTON, DC - Aiming to strengthen the hand of our diplomats working at the United Nations (U.N.) and other international organizations, Congressman David Dreier (R-CA), Chairman of the House Rules Committee, recently joined Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA), ranking member of the House International Relations Committee, in introducing H.R. 1590, the United States International Leadership Act of 2003.

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"International organizations are clearly playing an increasingly prevalent role in global diplomacy," Dreier said. "This legislation will provide the State Department with the tools it needs to aggressively pursue American interests and security at these multilateral institutions."

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"For too long, the world’s worst human rights abusers have manipulated the United Nations system to legitimize their repressive rule and undermine the cause of democracy," Lantos said. "The United States International Leadership Act, which Congressman Dreier and I have introduced, addresses this vulnerability and strengthens the U.N. by launching a Democracy Caucus and developing U.S. Government expertise in multilateral diplomacy. Now is the time for the United States to rally the forces of democracy at the U.N. - before the forces of tyranny and repression destroy its credibility."

The U.S. International Leadership Act requires the State Department to seek the creation of a "democracy caucus" at the United Nations and other key international organizations. It also requires the State Department to seek reform of the leadership criteria at all U.N. bodies to prevent countries who are subject to U.N. sanctions or are listed as state-sponsors of terrorism from heading U.N. commissions. Dreier pointed to Libya’s chairmanship of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights as a prime example. "The selection of Libya, a consistent violator of human rights, to head this important commission is an embarrassment to the global community and it shouldn’t happen again," he said. H.R. 1590 also increases training in multilateral diplomacy for Foreign Service Officers, and creates the Office on Multilateral Negotiations within the State Department to improve coordination of America’s diplomatic efforts at international organizations.

The bill incorporates a many proposals made in a 2002 joint Council on Foreign Relations and Freedom House Task Force on Enhancing the Role of the United States at the UN, which was co-chaired by Dreier and former Congressman Lee Hamilton (D-IN). "I am pleased to bring some of the outstanding ideas of our task force to the House for consideration. I look forward to working with Congressman Lantos and Chairman Hyde to enact this important legislation," said Dreier.

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