Bilateral meeting precedes four-day international assembly

WASHINGTON—Just nine days before President Trump is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) will lead a U.S. congressional delegation in a bilateral meeting with Russian lawmakers in what could be a new era of U.S.-Russia relations. Of note, Smith was part of the first U.S. Helsinki Commission delegation to visit Moscow, which was critical to efforts to open up regular discussions on human rights with leaders of the then-Soviet Union.

 

The 2018 meeting will include Smith and other Members of the U.S. Congress, and the Deputy Chairman of the Russian State Duma [parliament] Pyotr Tolstoi and other lawmakers from the Duma, and will take place on Saturday in Berlin at the 2018Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE-PA).

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Smith is heading the U.S. delegation to the four-day assembly, in one of his leadership roles as co-chair of the U.S. Helsinki Commission.

 

The assembly will feature more than 300 parliamentarians from 57 countries in North America, Europe, and Asia, to discuss human rights, economic and security issues and adopt resolutions to help shape and influence national and international policies on these matters.

 

In addition to leading the bilateral meeting with Russian lawmakers, Smith will also sponsor a resolution on fighting trafficking and two amendments on combating anti-Semitism.

 

Smith is also the Special Representative to the OSCE-PA on Human Trafficking Issues, a key voice for promoting good practices and policies in the worldwide fight against trafficking. In this role, he is sponsoring a resolution at the assembly that will focus on implementing trafficking-free communities to protect women and children worldwide. It will also call for all OSCE participating states to implement previous commitments concerning trafficking-in-persons, and ramp up efforts on trafficking prevention to protect women and children.

 

In 1999 in St. Petersburg, Russia, Smith’s successful trafficking resolution enlisted the assembly for the first time in a coordinated fight against human trafficking, and opened the eyes of member countries to the worldwide scourge of human trafficking.

 

He has introduced or cosponsored a supplementary item or amendments on trafficking to committee resolutions at each annual session of the OSCE-PA assembly, covering prevention of child-sex tourism, training in victim identification and reporting, private and public sector responsibility for trafficking-free supply chains and contractors, and special protections for vulnerable women and children.

 

These resolutions and amendments have influenced and changed policies in the 57 OSCE member states that represent over one billion people around the world,including their impact on the 2013 Addendum to the OSCE Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings.

 

In 2000, Smith wrote the landmark congressional Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) which created the annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, the gold standard used by nations around the world ranking 187 countries and territories on how they have met—or have failed to meet—standards in preventing human trafficking and prosecuting traffickers. Smith will present the 2018 TIP report to the OSCE-PA.

 

Additionally, Smith is sponsoring two amendments urging member states to better address the persistent problem of global anti-Semitism. Smith’s amendments will also build upon his years of leadership in fighting global anti-Semitism.  

 

In Congress, Smith authored the provisions of the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004 that created the position of Special Envoy and the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism within the U.S. State Department, and introduced the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act (H.R. 1911) to elevate and strengthen the position of the Envoy; the bill passed out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in May.