Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, joined a group of Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee led by SFRC Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ) to introduce the Global Voices of Freedom Act. The legislation would improve the United States’ ability to support pro-democracy movements and human rights defenders and help prevent, mitigate and respond to retaliatory attacks against those who stand up to uphold democratic values.
“Democracies across the globe are under threat amid a troubling rise in authoritarianism. That’s why U.S. leadership is necessary to support pro-democracy movements from Myanmar to Belarus to Venezuela. It is imperative that the United States support the brave individuals who are putting their lives at risk to fight for democracy and fundamental freedoms. The Global Voices of Freedom Act will support human rights defenders by bolstering those pro-democracy movements with financial, technical and logistical support as they combat autocracy around the world,” said Senator Shaheen.
Specifically, the Global Voices of Freedom Act seeks to harness all elements of American diplomatic power to update and increase support at United States embassies, consulates and foreign missions in order to meet the needs of the growing number of human rights defenders at risk. The legislation also calls on the Secretary of State and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations to protect human rights defenders at the UN and other multilateral bodies as a matter of U.S. policy, and mandates that the treatment of human rights defenders be included in the State Department’s annual country reports on human rights practices to better inform and influence policymaking.
Full text of the legislation can be found here.
In addition to her role on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Shaheen is also chair of the Europe and Regional Security Cooperation Subcommittee, where she has long focused on supporting civil society and human rights defenders across the European continent. Shaheen is a leader in the U.S. Senate in rallying support for Ukraine in response to Russia’s invasion and defending pro-democracy movements around the globe. On Wednesday, Senator Shaheen and Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), co-chairs of the Free Belarus Caucus, hosted the Belarusian leader of the pro-democracy movement – Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya – in Washington, DC. Senator Shaheen previously penned an op-ed in USA Today on why the West must come together to address the political situation in Belarus. Earlier this month, Shaheen and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) met with U.S. ambassador to Hungary David Pressman to discuss Hungary’s democratic backsliding under the government of Victor Orban.