July 14, 2022

Reps. Castro, McGovern Introduce Bill to Protect Multilateral Institutions from Coercive U.S. Sanctions

WASHINGTON – Today, Reps. Joaquin Castro (TX-20) and Jim McGovern (MA-03) introduced the Multilateral Leadership Act (H.R. 8372), legislation that would prevent the president of the United States from unilaterally imposing coercive sanctions against employees of the United Nations or other international organizations in response to their official actions.

“During the last administration, Donald Trump used his sanctions power to attack multilateral institutions and undermine global diplomacy. As the United States rebuilds our influence on the global stage, Congress must protect international organizations and the important role they play in advancing our shared values and interests,” said Congressman Castro. “The Multilateral Leadership Act will strengthen our commitment to the rules-based international order and ensure that future presidents use diplomacy – not coercion – to achieve our global goals.”

“I am proud to join Congressman Castro to help protect the integrity and autonomy of international institutions by introducing the Multilateral Leadership Act,” said Congressman McGovern. “Restoring America’s credibility as a champion of human rights and accountability starts with constructive engagement with multilateral institutions – not bullying them into submission through threats or intimidation. This bill sends a strong signal to the global community about America’s leadership and respect for international standards, the rule of law, and human rights, and I will work closely with my House colleagues to advance this important legislation.”

“The U.S. government’s targeted sanctions have helped promote accountability for human rights abusers and corrupt actors, but they have sometimes been misused,” said Adam Keith, Director of Accountability at Human Rights First. “This bill will help ensure that future administrations don’t use sanctions to undercut the multilateral institutions that civil society and governments rely on to combat impunity for human rights abuses and address other global problems.”

“The Better World Campaign and UNA-USA have conducted polling for decades, which makes clear that the American public strongly supports U.S. engagement within the United Nations.   Congressmen Castro and McGovern recognize this reality as well with the newly introduced Multilateral Leadership Act.  This far-sighted legislation would prevent the misuse of sanctions against international organizations in the United Nations system and would demonstrate that the U.S. seeks credible partners on the global stage.   It would bolster U.S. leadership within international organizations and would make it harder for authoritarian regimes to justify attacks on UN bodies that speak truth to power. BWC and UNA-USA support the Multilateral Leadership Act and we urge its passage,” said Peter Yeo, President, Better World Campaign and Rachel Pittman, Executive Director, United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA).

“The Open Society Policy Center supports the Multilateral Leadership Act in the belief that no official of an international organization should be discouraged from the performance of their official duties by the fear of crippling economic sanctions imposed unilaterally by an American President using emergency powers,” said Morton H. Halperin, Senior Advisor for the Open Society Policy Center.

The Multilateral Leadership Act is supported by organizations including Human Rights First, the Better World Campaign, the United Nations Association-USA, the Open Society Policy Center, the Brennan Center for Justice, The Sentry, Human Rights Watch, Oxfam America, Amnesty International USA, and the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights.

The full text of the bill can be found here.