The Pompeo Commission on Unalienable Rights: A Selective Vision of Human Rights


Thursday, July 30, 2020, 4:00pm to 5:00pm


Virtual Event (Registration Required)

The establishment of the Commission on Unalienable Rights (“Pompeo Commission”) in 2019 prompted concern among human rights advocates and academics that the Commission could redirect U.S. human rights policy in ways that would be self-defeating and would create serious damage to international cooperation for the protection of human rights.

The Commission released a draft report last week accompanied by a speech by Secretary Pompeo where he attacked the 1619 Project, questioned the so-called proliferation of rights and the role of international courts, and pointed to America’s unique role in championing “the dignity of every human being made in the image of God.”

Join us for a conversation with Andrea Prasow, Acting Washington Director at Human Rights Watch, Mathias Risse, Faculty Director for the Carr Center, and Katharine G. Young, Professor of Law at Boston College Law School, moderated by Sushma Raman, Executive Director of the Carr Center.  


  • Andrea Prasow | Washington Director (Acting), Human Rights Watch
  • Katharine G. Young | Professor of Law, Boston College Law School
  • Mathias Risse | Faculty Director, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy
  • Sushma Raman (Moderator) | Executive Director, Carr Center

Andrea Prasow is the acting Washington director at Human Rights Watch. She conducts advocacy before the US government on global human rights issues, with a particular focus on national security and human rights. Prasow frequently appears on domestic and international radio and television and has published in a wide range of print and online media outlets, including Politico, The Hill, and Foreign Policy. Prior to joining Human Rights Watch, Prasow was a defense attorney with the Office of Military Commissions. She served as assistant counsel for Salim Hamdan in the only contested military commission trial to date. Prasow was previously an associate at a New York law firm where, in addition to representing large corporations in complex civil litigation she served as habeas counsel for ten Saudi detainees at Guantanamo. Andrea holds an Honors B.A. from the University of Toronto in political science and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center. She is admitted to practice in the State of New York and the District of Columbia.

Katharine G. Young is a Professor of Law at Boston College Law School. Her scholarship focuses on comparative constitutional law, positive state obligations, international human rights law, and public law and gender. Professor Young has professional legal experience in Melbourne, New York, in the United Nations and in an NGO in Accra, Ghana. Before teaching at Boston College, Professor Young was an Associate Professor at the Australian National University, a Visiting Assistant Professor at Boston University. She has been a Fellow at Harvard University’s Project on Justice, Welfare and Economics, the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics and the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. Professor Young’s monograph, Constituting Economic and Social Rights (Oxford University Press, 2012), is published in the Oxford Constitutional Theory series, and she has also edited The Future of Economic and Social Rights (Cambridge University Press, 2019) and The Public Law of Gender (Cambridge University Press, 2016) (with Kim Rubenstein). She is currently editing, with Malcolm Langford, The Oxford Handbook of Economic and Social Rights.  In 2016, her article Rights and Queues: Distributive Contests in the Modern State, was selected for the Harvard/Stanford/Yale Junior Faculty Forum.

Mathias Risse is the Faculty Director at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy and the Lucius N. Littauer Professor of Philosophy and Public Administration at the Harvard Kennedy School. His work primarily addresses questions of global justice ranging from human rights, inequality, taxation, trade and immigration to climate change, obligations to future generations and the future of technology. He has also worked on questions in ethics, decision theory and 19th century German philosophy, especially Nietzsche. Risse is the author of On Global Justice and Global Political Philosophy. On Global Justice is known for introducing the "grounds-of-justice" approach to global political thought. Global Political Philosophy is an introduction to political thought from a global standpoint rather than the more typical state-focused perspective. Risse is currently completing two additional books. The first is the co-authored, On Trade Justice: A Philosophical Plea for a New Global Deal, forthcoming with Oxford University Press (with Gabriel Wollner). The other is On Justice: Philosophy, History, Foundations, forthcoming with Cambridge University Press.

Sushma Raman is the Executive Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. She brings over two decades of global experience launching, scaling, and leading social justice and philanthropic programs and collaboratives, building capabilities of grassroots human rights organizations and their leaders, and teaching graduate courses in the public policy schools at UCLA, USC, and Harvard Kennedy School. Sushma is the co-author, along with Bill Schulz (former executive director of Amnesty International USA and Carr Center Senior Fellow), of the book The Coming Good Society: Why New Realities Demand New Rights, released by Harvard University Press in June 2020. This forward-looking book examines the coming changes to the human rights landscape and argues that rights must adapt to new technological and scientific realities or risk being consigned to irrelevance. Sushma is the host of the Carr Center’s Justice Matters podcast, a contributor to Foreign Policy magazine, and a facilitator for many Carr Center events, including the Human Rights in Hard Places and the Struggle for Black Lives series. She is currently a member of the board of RFK Human Rights, established by the family of Bobby Kennedy.

Virtual Event Details

This event will be livestreamed on YouTube Live. Attendees registered for this event (link below) will receive a reminder for the livestream fifteen minutes before the event along with a link to the YouTube page where you can participate in the live chat and ask questions during the event.



Registration Closed