WASHINGTON – Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and David Vitter (R-LA) were named today by the Senate Leadership as the two newest Commissioners on the U.S. Helsinki Commission. Senators Gordon Smith (R-OR) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) were also named to serve a second and third term respectively on the Commission.
“I am pleased to have two of my most distinguished colleagues on the Commission,” said Commission Chairman, Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS). “Senators Burr and Vitter will bring a lot of depth and experience to the Commission, as well as a real passion for human rights.”
The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, is a U.S. Government agency that monitors progress in the implementation of the provisions of the 1975 Helsinki Accords. The Commission consists of nine members from the United States Senate, nine from the House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense and Commerce.
“This is great news,” added Commission Co-Chairman, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ). “I worked with both Members when they served in the House. We need as Commissioners the kind of commitment and vitality that these two Senators bring – they are effective, determined and creative in promoting human rights. These new appointments will only make us more effective.”
“This Commission is very well-known and highly respected,” said Vitter. “We can do a lot of work on the floor of the Senate, but the Commission has a global presence to fight for fundamental freedoms and to ensure human rights around the world.”
“The Commission has been on the leading edge of the global human rights campaign. As a Commissioner, I will have the opportunity to be a part of an important effort in the fight for democracy worldwide,” added Burr.
The Helsinki Final Act enshrined the principle that human rights are not the internal matter of one state, but is a legitimate security concern of all participating states. The year 2005 marks the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Act that led to the establishment of the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.