For the first time in its 23-year-old history, the Congressional Human Rights Caucus (CHRC) expanded to the U.S. Senate, creating additional synergy for more effective performance in human rights issues.
"There is hope," said Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) during a celebratory reception Wednesday night. "By partnering together we can bring attention to the international human rights abuses that are taking place, and we can take action to give hope and a future to the millions of marginalized people who deserve the same rights afforded to the rest of us."
With bipartisan participation of over 240 congressional members, Amnesty International USA's Grassroots Advocacy Associate, Chris McGraw, said human rights interests are diverse within caucus.
"[The caucus] facilitates the joint work of all these members," McGraw told The Christian Post Wednesday.
Recent human rights briefings held by the Caucus include China's control over the internet, humanitarian efforts in Sudans Darfur region, religious freedom in Egypt, violence against women, and the humanitarian catastrophe from the Pakistan earthquake.
Commenting on the "additional synergy" of the caucus expansion, McGraw said, "Moving into the senate really means they can perform better together and they'll be more effective in their work."
Created in 1983, the Human Rights Caucus raises awareness on human rights crises as well as issues that otherwise may not get media attention. Human rights experts are often brought in to address serious concerns as caucus members co-sponsor resolutions and draft joint letters.
"Slavery, religious persecution, genocide, and starvation are realities that much of the world wakes up to each morning," said Brownback, a leading human rights advocate. "Fear of torture and death plagues men, women, and children around the world every day.
"However, we are making progress. We are educating people about the realities of places like Darfur and North Korea. We are taking action through legislation, diplomatic efforts, and relief efforts through NGOs such as Amnesty International."
Caucus members have often times been joined by religious leaders in efforts to improve the human rights situation around the world. Brownback has been a frequent speaker at conferences addressing the human rights abuses in such countries as Sudan and North Korea, alongside human rights and evangelical organizations and church groups.
"Human life is our most precious gift, and we must protect it," said Brownback.
The Congressional Human Rights Caucus was co-founded by Congressman Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) and former Congressman John Edward Porter (R-Ill.). Currently operating under the leadership of Lantos and Congressman Frank Wolf (R-Va.), the caucus welcomed this year Brownback and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) as Senate Co-Chairs.