The commission's creation appears to be the fruition of a long-term policy priority in the State Department.
In May, Pompeo spoke on foreign policy at the Claremont Institute's 40th Anniversary Gala, stating that "respect for God-authored rights and liberties" is part of "the distinctive mark of Western Civilization." He added that the U.S. should uphold human rights by working "to cooperate with like-minded democracies," while making sure to "guard against those who don't."
"You could see this commission as an outgrowth of that speech," a senior administration official explained to CNA on Monday.
Speaking separately to CNA, an administration official and human rights experts both emphasized two main reasons for the creation of the commission: countering the abuse of rights language by terrorists and bad actors on the international stage; and addressing the "proliferation" of international human rights claims.
Today, "some of the worst human rights abusers in the world being represented and even chairing international human rights commissions. That's just outrageous," George said.
Emilie Kao, Director of the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion & Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation, told CNA that abusive regimes hide behind the expanded language of rights.
"What often happens is governments which are the worst abusers will say" that "we've protected economic and social rights" as a means to "deflect criticism away from their failure to protect unalienable human rights" like freedom of religion and association.
The commission could assist the State Department in putting fundamental human rights, such as religious freedom, at the heart of its diplomacy with other countries, Kao said. But she warned it would not be easy.
Religious freedom has fallen by the wayside in attempts to redefine or introduce new international human rights which have led to "a devaluation of the unalienable human rights," she told CNA. Nearly 80% of the global population lives in countries with significant restrictions on religious freedom.
Kao also said that the "proliferation" of rights claims could be seen in efforts at the international level to recognize rights that the 1948 Universal Declaration did not, citing the UN Human Rights Council's adoption of a resolution on the right to compete in sports based on one's "gender identity."
The senior administration official explained to CNA that the commission's work will consider the difference between "unalienable" and other kinds of rights-whether the "right not to be tortured" is on the same level as "the right to clean water," or if the "right to liberty" is akin to the "right to social welfare payments."
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"Those are the kinds of questions that they'll ask," they said.
Some advocacy groups have issued sharp criticisms of the commission.
Amnesty International called the commission's creation a "politicization of human rights" that would "further hateful policies aimed at women and LGBTQ people" and ignored an already-existing "global framework" to secure human rights.
Speaking to CNA, a senior administration official said this critique lacked a clear basis.
"First of all, what global framework?" the official asked. "Has it all worked after 70 years? Have multilateral institutions done the job? Why not step back from it and have a serious genuine debate?"
Kao agreed, noting that groups like Amnesty International have worked to change the existing global framework on rights. She pointed to the Yogyakarta Principles, adopted by various rights groups in 2006, calling it a "manifesto" of the LGBT movement to add sexual orientation and gender identity categories into existing international human rights law and treaties.