Congressmember Karen Bass is honored to serve on the House Foreign Affairs Committee as Chair on the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Human Rights, and International Organizations.
Congressmember Bass firmly believes that a strong U.S. foreign policy is rooted in three important and fundamental pillars: diplomacy, development, and defense. These pillars provide the basis for our nation’s ability to wisely and effectively leverage U.S. resources to address global challenges including food insecurity, the burden of endemic and epidemic disease and, war and conflict from around the world.
U.S.-led economic development and trade promotion activities help expand markets and ensure greater peace and stability in foreign nations and importantly empower individuals and communities through job creation and opportunities for underrepresented populations including women and girls. U.S. foreign engagement has created jobs and employment opportunities not only overseas but here in the United States. As our government seeks opportunities to engage the U.S. private sector in business opportunities abroad, we do so knowing that both public and private sectors have important roles to play in a most justice, stable and peaceful world.
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“I want to thank the local organizers and families in my district who brought this incredibly important issue to my attention at a local town hall a few years ago,” said Rep. Karen Bass. “The division of the Korean Peninsula millions of families, including some who are now citizens of the United States and have not been able to see their families in more than 70 years. The institution of family is inalienable and reunification with family members should be a humanitarian priority of immediate concern. I am glad that is now the sense of the U.S. House of Representatives.”
"I am gravely concerned by the recent detention of journalists in Addis Ababa and the suspension of the Addis Standard newspaper. Arbitrary arrests of journalists and suspensions of news outlets violate freedom of the press, an essential part of democratic governance. With the unfounded pretext of cracking down on those affiliated with and promoting terrorist groups, these actions by the government of Ethiopia are a clear deviation from the opening of civic space ushered in by Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed when he took office.
“I stand with the people of South Africa and call for calm and order in the country. Culprits disguised as citizens have used the arrest and trial of former President Jacob Zuma to commit violence all across the country. On the surface, the recent violence is because of Jacob Zuma being sentenced to 15 months in jail. Citizens are frustrated over post-apartheid promises that have not addressed youth unemployment and the unequal distribution of wealth, and now the COVID pandemic has exacerbated the political, social, and economic tensions in the country.
“Today, the international community observes the tenth anniversary of South Sudan’s independence. As the world’s youngest country, South Sudan remains a fragile state in the midst of a civil war and facing chronic food insecurity and large numbers of displaced communities. In the face of these challenges, the United States will continue to support South Sudan in its efforts to achieve a peace agreement that will include free and fair elections, sustainable economic reforms, and a unified national army.
"I am discouraged to see the unfolding of violence against protestors in eSwatini by the King Mswati. The protests are rooted in the pure anger of the eSwatinis towards the monarch, and the people want constitutional reforms, including the legalization of political parties, the right to elect a prime minister who is accountable to the people, better public services, and an end to police brutality.
"I am encouraged to learn that Burundian human rights defender Germain Rukuki was finally released after serving more than four years in prison out of his original 32-year sentence. A champion of human rights, he risked his life and freedom to highlight the mistreatment of many citizens in Burundi. Mr. Rukuki’s release is a true testament to the power of protesting by hundreds of thousands of people around the world who tirelessly campaigned for his release. I fully support Mr. Rukuki and encourage his continued fight for the human rights of all people.
“I am extremely excited that the Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and other global financiers are partnering with South African manufacturer, Aspen Pharmacare, to combat COVID-19 by helping them produce 500 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in Africa for Africans by the end of 2022, including providing more than 200 million doses this year. This will save lives, build local capacity, strengthen supply-chain infrastructure, and help create a self-reliance for developing nations.
“I am discouraged that there are currently more than 32 million refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced persons in Africa. Since last year, three million more people have lost their homes due to conflicts, government repression against citizens, violent extremism, and the militarization of politics. Eighty-eight percent of all IDPS in Africa come from just 10 countries. Ethiopia saw the most significant increase in IDPs from last year with an estimated 1.8 million people displaced due to the current conflict in Tigray.
"I am deeply concerned about the provisions of the national elections in several regions of Ethiopia. I appreciate the increased participation from various political parties; however, the elections were not held in many regions of the country and several political parties were not allowed to participate. In addition, voter registration was low and there was a limited number of election observers. The government of Ethiopia must continue the work to ensure that the elections are free, fair, and inclusive to all and not a flashpoint for violence."
“My heartfelt condolences go out to the family of President Kenneth Kaunda and the people of Zambia. His leadership and vital role in fighting for independence from the former colonial power in northern Rhodesia, and his tireless support in fighting against HIV/AIDS made him a champion of global human rights and invaluable to the continent.”