(Washington, DC) – The United States Senate should reject Andrew Bremberg’s nomination to be US ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Human Rights Watch said today. His extreme views on women’s rights are contrary to international human rights law. The US ambassador to the UN in Geneva needs to be able to fully represent the United States in global efforts to address women’s rights, including sexual and reproductive rights, and other humanitarian and health challenges.
Human Rights Watch joined 38 other organizations in a letter dated July 12, 2019 calling on members of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee to reject Bremberg’s nomination, which is slated for a vote on July 25. Bremberg has demonstrated in his confirmation hearing and written responses that he will not uphold women’s sexual and reproductive rights.
“Bremberg has made clear that he does not support reproductive rights even in instances of rape, when a pregnancy can be especially traumatic,” said Amanda Klasing, acting women’s rights co-director at Human Rights Watch. “The Senate should not send to the United Nations someone holding the dangerous view that women’s rights can be slashed away from fundamental human rights.”
Of particular concern is Bremberg’s statement at his confirmation hearing that he does not support victims of rape accessing abortion. He expressed his support of the US government’s extraordinary threat at the UN Security Council in April to veto a resolution on gender-based violence in armed conflict because it included a reference to victims’ access to sexual and reproductive health care.
This extreme position is out of step with current US policies as well as international human rights law. For example, even under President Donald Trump’s expanded “global gag rule” and under the harmful Hyde amendment, which prevents federal funding for abortions domestically, exceptions are made in the case of sexual violence.
Authoritative interpretations of international human rights law establish that denying women and girls access to abortion is a form of discrimination and jeopardizes a range of human rights. UN human rights treaty bodies regularly call for governments to decriminalize abortion in all cases, to legalize abortion in certain circumstances at a minimum, and to ensure access to safe, legal abortion.
The Human Rights Committee, a UN treaty body, has noted the relationship between restrictive abortion laws and threats to women’s and girls’ lives. It has frequently expressed concern about criminalization of abortion and has called for expanded exceptions. The Committee has called on governments to amend their laws “with a view to ensuring effective access to safe, legal abortion when the life or health of a pregnant woman or girl is endangered, and when carrying a pregnancy to term would cause the woman or girl substantial pain or suffering, most notably when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest or when it is not viable.”
The UN Committee against Torture has called on governments to “allow for legal exception to the prohibition of abortion in specific circumstances in which the continuation of pregnancy is likely to result in severe pain and suffering, such as when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest or in cases of fatal fetal impairment.”
“Americans are entitled to expect that their top representatives to the United Nations will engage constructively, uphold international law, and be a voice for all Americans,” Klasing said. “Andrew Bremberg’s stated positions indicate that he will be none of those things, and the Senate should reject his nomination.”