Longtime human rights champion Senator John Kerry was confirmed yesterday as the new U.S. Secretary of State by a Senate vote of 94-3. As the new administration settles in for the next four years, Secretary Kerry—who has been an outspoken and staunch advocate for human rights—will now, more than ever, be positioned to help support African nations in ending crimes against humanity and building a path toward long-term peace and stability.
As Secretary of State, Kerry will face a number of pressing foreign policy issues around the globe, but Kerry’s extensive background and knowledge of the Sudans, Congo, and the Lord’s Resistance Army, as well as his previous commitment to these issues, position him to positively affect these serious and, in some cases, escalating conflicts.
During his Senate tenure and as chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Kerry has been instrumental in placing and keeping the two Sudans as a high-level U.S. government priority issue. He traveled to the region numerous times and during his nomination hearing last week on January 24, Kerry promised to work toward ending the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Sudan, which he referred to as a “human tragedy.”
As chairman, Kerry also prioritized support to end the LRA, a notorious rebel group operating throughout central Africa and led by indicted war criminal Joseph Kony. Most recently, in 2012, Kerry co-introduced bipartisan legislation in the Senate—which passed and was signed into law earlier this month—that expands the Department of State’s Rewards for Justice Program to provide incentives for offering information that leads to the arrest or conviction of individuals wanted for war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide.
In his new position, the Enough Project urges Secretary Kerry to continue advocating for support to end the LRA and calls on him to ensure that the U.S. military advisors remain deployed in central Africa until they succeed in capturing Kony and other top LRA commanders.
Furthermore, as the situation in eastern Congo continues down a familiar path of violence and instability, Secretary Kerry can lead U.S. efforts to provide incentives, pressure, and support for a comprehensive peace process that addresses underlying root causes of cyclical conflict. Secretary Kerry has entered into his new capacity at a critical moment when strong and sustained U.S. and international leadership is critical to ensure that the escalating conflict is resolved.
Enough Project Executive Director John C. Bradshaw said:
The State Department, under Secretary Kerry, can play a key role in promoting an inclusive peace process in the Congo, addressing what he has described as a ‘human tragedy’ unfolding in Sudan's South Kordofan and Blue Nile States, and capturing Joseph Kony and his LRA commanders. The Enough Project thanks Secretary Kerry for his ongoing support of ending crimes against humanity in Africa, and looks forward to working closely with him and his team in the coming years.
TAKE ACTION: Send a message to Secretary of State Kerry. Congratulate him on his recent appointment, and tell him to use his new position to take a holistic approach to the multiple conflicts in Sudan.