February 11, 2009

Udall Selected Helsinki Commissioner

Senator Joins Preeminent Congressional Organization to Promote Cooperation with Europe

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Tom Udall, D-N.M., today announced that he has been selected as a member of the commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the United States Helsinki Commission. The commission is an independent U.S. Government agency established in 1976 to promote human rights, democracy and the rule of law, as well as security and economic advancement.

As a commissioner, Udall will have the opportunity to work with parliamentarians, government officials and non-governmental organizations from 55 other countries.

"International cooperation provides the opportunity for building a safer, more prosperous United States and a more secure world," said Udall. "I look forward to working with my Congressional colleagues and international counterparts to encourage cross-national dialogs and united action towards common goals."

The Helsinki Commission encourages compliance with the Helsinki Final Act, an agreement that has been signed by 56 countries. The agreement calls for a commitment to "respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of thought, conscience religion or belief, for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion." It also contains provisions designed to promote cooperation for humanitarian goals, to preserve security and to support economic, scientific and environmental progress.

The co-chairs of the commission welcomed Udall as a new member.

"We warmly welcome Senator Udall's appointment to serve on the Helsinki Commission. Senator Udall's extensive knowledge and experience in energy and environment issues will undoubtedly be of great benefit to our work here at the Commission and in the OSCE region. The 111th Congress will be an extremely busy time for the Commission as we look to confront the many challenges we face in the 21st century.

"We look forward to Senator Udall's advice and guidance when examining the economic and environmental dimension of the Helsinki process and the active role we know he will play when working on the new opportunities and challenges at the Commission," said Co-Chairmen Senator Benjamin L. Cardin and Congressman Alcee L. Hastings.

The commission consists of nine members from the United States Senate, nine members from the U.S. House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense, and Commerce.

Concluded Udall, "With all of the challenges that face our world today, the Helsinki Commission is more needed than ever. These challenges - from terrorism to global warming - demand a united response from free peoples everywhere, and the Helsinki framework is ideally suited to build that united response."

In the House, Udall previously served on the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, the International Conservation Caucus and the Congressional Executive Commission on China. He also participated in the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.