The Global Citizen
On December 10th, Human Rights Day, we lost a wonderful friend and leader. Floyd Ramp was a great supporter of human rights and world peace. During World War II he served as an ensign in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific where he witnessed the testing of the atomic bomb and the devastation wrought in Japan. He became committed to world peace and developing the laws and institutions to make it possible.
The Senate hasn't approved any major multilateral treaties since 1997.
America is suffering from a failure to commit. Just ask Bob Dole.
While the former GOP presidential candidate and decorated veteran watched from his wheelchair on the Senate floor, all but eight of the Republicans in that chamber shamefully voted down the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
It's hardly a radical pact. To date, 126 other countries have ratified this treaty. Dole, who served as Senate Majority and Minority Leader for more than a decade, had championed it. So did veterans groups, disability rights organizations, and even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The treaty simply took our own Americans with Disabilities Act, and "expanded that kind of rights to people all over the world who don't have them today," explained Senator John McCain of Arizona, another former Republican presidential nominee and veteran with a disability.
But it takes two-thirds of the Senate to ratify a treaty, and even with all 53 senators in the Democratic caucus supporting it, too few Republicans got on board for it to pass.
We've all heard about sequestration, a mandatory cutting of federal expenditures on apocalyptic levels if a budget deal is not struck in Congress before the New Year. However, does anyone really know what it will mean for international affairs budgeting if sequestration takes effect?
The short answer is: it doesn't look good.
To begin, let's run through what would happen on the macro level if sequestration kicks in. If sequestration is not avoided, the Office of Management and Budget will cancel $110 billion in spending for fiscal year 2013, with a grand total of $1.2 trillion in savings through fiscal year 2021. The amount of money saved by sequestration will be split 50/50 between Defense programs and non-Defense programs, with Social Security, Medicaid, and the majority of Medicare escaping unscathed.
Using fiscal year 2013 as a model and assuming percentage cuts between seven and ten percent, that would mean that Defense spending would drop by $55 billion and non-Defense discretionary spending would be cut, again, by $55 billion, which includes the International Affairs Budget.
The Senate is on the verge of ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). This could be amazing! The Senate has not been able to push through a multilateral treaty since the Chemical Weapons convention in 1997.
Senator John Kerry (D-MA), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has said that current U.S. laws protecting the disabled are the “gold standard” for such initiatives worldwide. He said that the treaty would “take that gold standard and extend it to countries that have never heard of disability rights.”
126 nations have already ratified the CRPD, improving the lives of over 1 billion people living with disabilities. Over 80% of the world’s disabled population lives in developing countries where the treaty would have the greatest impact. U.S. ratification of the treaty will not only maintain our essential leadership on disability issues internationally but allow us to play a key role in forming the legislation and policies that will ensure the equality and inclusion of all people with disabilities worldwide.
They put their lives on the line for us daily. They make sacrifices that I myself could not be able to fathom. Yet women in the military are denied the same rights to basic health care that other citizens have.
Under current law, if a woman solider is raped and becomes pregnant, she cannot use her military health plan to pay for an abortion. She would be forced to seek health care outside of the military base, which often is very dangerous. But Senator Jeanne Shaheen is working to reverse this glaring human rights violation.
The New Hampshire Senator is the creator of Amendment 1120 (also known as the Shaheen Amendment), which would protect enlisted women so that they can have the same health care as the very citizens they protect. A case where an enlisted woman was raped by a fellow soldier reveals how unjust our current laws are. Jessica Kenyon* was raped and denied access to health care on the military base in Korea where she was stationed. There were no other safe health care alternatives where she was, and because of these circumstances that were beyond her control, she was given no other choice but to leave and give up her military career. She later miscarried.
Yesterday was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. In December of 1999, the United Nations created this day to highlight how gender based violence affects billions of women all over the world, which in turn affects the economic capacity of their communities and nations.
Over a decade later, women’s human rights are just now starting to take center stage. The 2012 election put a record number of women in the Senate— but we have yet to reach political parity. Efforts to end gender-based violence are underway, yet there remains the haunting statistic that one in three women will be raped or attacked in her lifetime. Just recently in Ireland, Savita Halappanavar was left by doctors to die because she was denied an abortion—a case that made international news and spurred hundreds of protests throughout the world.
The evidence supporting America’s mandate for responsible leadership in Washington grows. With the support of the Global Solutions PAC, Angus King and Joe Donnelly won their elections and now join the ranks of responsible leaders in Washington.
In the state of Maine, Independent Angus King handedly took the open Senate seat, defeating Republican Charlie Summers by over 150,000 votes and Democrat Cynthia Dill by over 275,000 votes. On the topic of foreign policy, Angus King knows what is at stake and possesses the right mindset to tackle the issues.
Concerning multilateral engagement, King said that, “The United States has a strong heritage of multilateral action on important global issues, and should continue as a collaborative leader in world affairs.” This commitment to cooperation shows that we have a representative that will work on the important international issues in the most effective way. King has also voiced his support for the ICC in situations where a fair and codified court may not be available, as well as his approval of ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. These convictions show that King is a leader that will do what is right, regardless of what is popular or easy.
A significant amount of the world's resources and minerals are in countries on the African continent. From diamonds to oil reserves, you would think these resource-rich nations would be some of the most economically advantaged. Instead, the presence of resources, like oil, in countries such as Sudan and South Sudan, has only created more problems and turmoil in the region.
Disagreement over oil reserves and how the profits should be dispersed throughout the country is a major reason for Sudan's ongoing civil war (arguably the longest in history) and the eventual secession of South Sudan.
Countries rich in resources are actually more prone to conflict, as these resources can be used to finance war or rebellion efforts that otherwise wouldn't be sustainable. The profits can be used by corrupt governments to finance their own needs without any need for input from civilians, leaving them less accountable to their people. However, these are the same resources that have helped African nations to develop some of the fastest growing economies in the world.
According to the IMF's 2012 World Economic Outlook, of the 20 fastest growing economies in the world, 10 are located in Sub-Saharan Africa. South Sudan ranks # 2 in the world. Others who make the list include the Republic of Congo, Zambia, Ghana and Mozambique.
Keeping with the theme of voters selecting leaders that champion smart American foreign policy, we have two more races that highlight the frighteningly stark differences between two different worldviews. As with the previous post, these are officials that were supported by the Global Solutions PAC that won their elections.
We will begin with the Montana Senatorial race, where incumbent Jon Tester bested Dennis Rehberg in that race. Tester has a proven track record as a champion of American involvement globally, including votes in favor of addressing climate change, the New START Treaty, and the preservation of foreign aid funding. During his time as Senator, Tester has earned two "A-" grades on our report card in 2010 and 2012. On the other end of the spectrum, Rehberg's lack of support for international nuclear regulation, initiatives to address climate change, and proper funding to the UN earned him a "D-" in 2010 and a "D" in 2012.
With the final ballots cast and the winners and losers decided, it is clear that the people of this nation demand leaders that will address global issues in a realistic way. Because of the overwhelming results of this election, we thought it would be a good idea to take a closer look at some of the more prominent winners that realize the importance of an engaged foreign policy strategy. These are leaders that Global Solutions PAC supported throughout the election.
Virginia's Senatorial race was a victory for those that champion American involvement in the international community. Winning 52.4% of the vote, Democratic candidate Tim Kaine edged out Republican candidate George Allen who garnered 47.6%. Allen's history in the US Senate gives us a clear view of his stances on foreign policy. Without fail, he voted against legislation that would have helped to address climate change, increasing funding for the global AIDS prevention services, and US involvement in the ICC. Consequentially, Allen earned a "0" (equivalent of an 'F') in 2004, a "D" in 2005, and a "D" in 2006.
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