A Proposal for the Revision of the Leahy Laws to Align Human Rights and Security Cooperation Policies with National Strategy
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The United States has long paired human rights and security cooperation policies to meet national strategic objectives. The 2021 Interim National Security Strategy called for an increase in security partnerships with like-minded nations while also continuing support for human rights efforts abroad. The Leahy Laws and other policies constructed in and after the Cold War have prevented human rights abusers from receiving US military aid. However, once a US partner commits a human rights violation the entire unit is suspended from receiving US military aid and faces a daunting remediation process before it can resume security cooperation with the US. Suspending military aid indefinitely no longer supports national strategy but looking past human rights abuses also stands to ruin the moral leadership role the United States has in global politics. This proposal reviews standing policies that affect security cooperation and human rights and evaluates how they now obstruct US national strategy. The proposal recommends reforming Leahy Laws by adding human rights training to the remediation process of the Leahy Laws to expedite the stagnant remediation process and ensure partners are not lost to adversaries who are indifferent toward human rights.