Final 7 days, the unremarkable State Division tenure of Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook arrived to a unexpected conclude with her resignation from the submit of U.S. Ambassador-At-Huge for Intercontinental Religious Flexibility. A put up designed to elevate the status of religious liberty in American overseas coverage and to move around intractable Condition Section forms by straight advising the Secretary of State, the U.S. Ambassador-At-Big for International Spiritual Independence in recent many years has functioned rather as a sidelined determine in diplomatic efforts.
That is, when the put up has been filled. It took President Obama more than a yr and a half to even nominate Dr. Cook. As soon as confirmed in the summer season of 2011, Dr. Cook’s inexperience as a diplomat and unfamiliarity with world-wide religious freedom troubles grew to become obvious as she unsuccessful to establish obvious workplace priorities or to respond to countries selected as Nations of Particular Worry (CPCs) below the Global Spiritual Independence Act. In distinction to her two predecessors who labored in the admittedly hostile setting of the State Department to set up a critical mass of staff and to weave spiritual freedom priorities into a broader human legal rights agenda, Dr. Cook dinner remained largely silent.
In an all-too-acquainted pattern, the Point out Section has indicated it has no potential customers on the horizon to fill the now-vacant placement. This marked deficiency of interest or worry in a human rights situation that is bi-partisan, fundamental to the information of individual liberty, and central to the tale of the United States will come as an explosion of violence in the Middle East and Southeast Asia targets religious minorities.
Just this weekend, Egypt’s prolonged-persecuted Coptic neighborhood faced another attack that killed four at a wedding celebration at a Cairo church. A thirty day period in the past, Christians from All Saints Church in Peshawar, Pakistan confronted a single of the deadliest attacks on report in their nation. Yet, these Christians and other Pakistani spiritual minorities have small hope of their pursuits being represented in the diplomatic meetings in between Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama and Pakistani Key Minister Nawaz Sharif that are scheduled to just take location this 7 days.
In spite of the failure of Dr. Cook to leverage her placement for spiritual minorities, to remark verbally on their plight in countries such as Syria, or even just to show up at Congressional hearings, her departure offers a pivotal possibility for President Obama to nominate a more experienced and pro-lively alternative. Georgetown Professor and previous diplomat Thomas Farr outlines the needed methods President Obama should consider to “[Enable] the US diplomatic corps and the world know that President Obama and Secretary Kerry are offering this ambassador their personal backing to go this concern to the front burner of American diplomacy.” We can only hope that President Obama moves much more speedily to nominate a competent successor than he did to nominate Dr. Cook dinner in the first place.