Washington, DC – Today, Representative Gregory W. Meeks, Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, together with Representatives on the House Foreign Affairs Committee Abigail Spanberger and Susan Wild introduced the House companion to the Safeguarding Human Rights in Arms Exports (SAFEGUARD) Act.
This legislation seeks to address concerns regarding the use of U.S.- sold arms and defense services in committing abuses against innocent civilians in combat and violations of internationally recognized human rights. The SAFEGUARD Act would institute critical checks and accountability mechanisms while strengthening Congress’ oversight role.
Further, the SAFEGUARD Act imposes much-needed reforms to the Arms Export Control Act to make the protection of human rights an integral part in the transfer of lethal arms and defense services to foreign countries.
The full bill text can be found here.
“As Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee it is my obligation to ensure the foreign policy the United States pursues remains true to both our national interests and our democratic values. The SAFEGUARD Act requires the United States to evaluate the human rights records of foreign government buyers of U.S. arms to prevent sales to states shown to be responsible for violating international humanitarian law or internationally recognized human rights. I have and will continue to support U.S. allies and partners pursuing their security needs and our shared strategic interests, however doing so must not come at the cost of violating basic human rights. This, at its core, is what separates us from our undemocratic adversaries and distinguishes America as a leader among nations,” said Chair Gregory W. Meeks.
“Since arriving in Congress, I have been focused on asserting Congress’ role in the review of U.S. arms sales and exports. And as Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I firmly believe that we must prevent the United States from prolonging or contributing to future human rights abuses — including through weapons transfers,” said Rep. Spanberger. “The SAFEGUARD Act is a long overdue step towards accomplishing these goals. Our bill would make sure fundamental questions of national security and human rights are addressed during the official process of reviewing, exporting, and monitoring weapons and military equipment transfers. Additionally, our bicameral legislation would rightly prohibit arms sales to countries violating international humanitarian law — helping to reestablish strong U.S. global leadership in the fight against genocide, ethnic cleansing, extrajudicial killings, and other abuses that we see all too often around the world. In making these reforms, our legislation would protect not only our values, but also our national security interests.”
“U.S. leadership on human rights can’t just be rhetoric, which is why I am so proud to join my colleagues on the Foreign Affairs Committee to introduce this legislation to promote accountability and institutional checks on arms sold by the U.S,” said Rep. Wild. “We should not provide arms used to violate human rights, and I am hopeful this bill is but one of several meaningful steps we can take to apply this principle as a cornerstone of our nation’s foreign policy.”
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