This month, Congress took bipartisan action to pass the Suspending Normal Trade Relations with Russia and Belarus Act, which was signed into law by President Biden. This legislation is a continuation of the human rights principles championed by Senator Jackson, and it realizes a hope for the Foundation.
First, in response to Russia’s attack on Ukraine’s national sovereignty, the legislation suspends normal trade relations with Russia, which the U.S. had granted in 2012. Revoking normal trade relations echoes the 1974 Jackson-Vanik amendment, which tied most favored nation trade status with personal sovereignty – specifically Soviet Jews’ ability to emigrate. Citing that Russia’s energy exports are enabling the war in Ukraine, the law encourages other WTO members to join in revoking normal trade relations as a consequence of Russia’s aggression, just as Ukraine had requested after the Russian invasion.
Second, the bill permanently reauthorizes the Global Magnitsky Act (“GloMag”), the targeted sanctions program focused on human rights abusers and corrupt actors around the world. The intellectual successor to the Jackson-Vanik amendment, the Global Magnitsky Act was due to sunset this December. Foundation partners Human Rights First and Freedom House worked tirelessly for its permanent reauthorization, celebrated in this joint statement. The reauthorization of the Global Magnitsky Act sends a strong signal about the importance of human rights and will continue to provide a way for bad actors to be held accountable.
The Jackson Foundation applauds this truly bipartisan effort, with 26 original cosponsors who were almost evenly split across the aisle, an overwhelming 420-3 vote in the House, and unanimous support in the Senate. While by no means perfect, the U.S. is strongest when we demonstrate leadership in upholding the principles of democracy and human rights. With this legislation, the Senator’s legacy of choosing principles over money endures.