Firuz Kazemzadeh reappointed to US Commission on International Religious Freedom

16 June 2001

WASHINGTON — Firuz Kazemzadeh, former Secretary for External Affairs of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States, has been appointed to a second term on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Dr. Kazemzadeh, a Professor Emeritus of History at Yale University, was appointed by US Senate Majority Leader Thomas Daschle. His term lasts until 14 May 2003. Dr. Kazemzadeh previously served on the Commission from 15 May 1999 to 14 May 2001, acting as its vice chairman from 15 May 2000 to 14 May 2001. His first appointment was made by US President Bill Clinton.

Created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, the nine-member Commission exists to monitor religious freedom in other countries and to advise the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress on how best to promote such freedom.

"I am pleased to have been appointed to a second term on the US Commission for International Religious Freedom that defends an essential human right that is only too frequently violated," said Dr. Kazemzadeh. "The Commission's mandate to monitor the status of religious freedom throughout the world and to advise the President and the Congress raises the level of concern with religious freedom.

"The struggle for religious freedom, like the struggle for the abolition of slavery or the exploitation of child labor will be a long and difficult one, but the principles embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights will triumph and the Commission will contribute to their eventual triumph," Dr. Kazemzadeh said.

Dr. Kazemzadeh currently serves as a senior advisor to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States, the national governing body for the U.S. Baha'i community, an institution on which Dr. Kazemzadeh served for more than 35 years until his retirement last year.

During his tenure at Yale, which lasted from 1956 to 1992, Dr. Kazemzadeh also served variously as Director of Graduate Studies in Russian and Eastern European Studies; Chair of the Committee on Middle Eastern Studies; Director of Graduate Studies in History; and Master of Davenport College.

He is the author of "The Struggle for Transcaucasia, 1917-1921," and "Russia and Britain in Persia, 1864-1914," as well as the co-author of several other books relating to Russia and Central Asia. Since 1966 he has served as editor of World Order Magazine.

Dr. Kazemzadeh was born in the Iranian Embassy in Moscow, where his father served for many years, came to the United States in 1944, and received his academic training at Stanford University and Harvard University.

The US Congress passed the International Religious Freedom Act to promote religious freedom as a U.S. foreign policy goal and to combat religious persecution in other countries, according to the Commission's website.

The law created an Office of International Religious Freedom in the State Department, headed by an Ambassador-at-Large. That office is responsible for issuing a report on religious freedom and persecution in all foreign countries by 1 September of each year. On the basis of that report, the State Department designates "countries of particular concern" on the basis of their "systematic, ongoing, and egregious" violations of religious liberty.

The law identifies the wide range of diplomatic and economic tools that the President can apply to those countries. To assist the President, the law recommended creation of a special advisor on international religious freedom as part of the National Security Council staff. The law also created the Commission on International Religious Freedom and required it to issue an annual report each 1 May. The Commission expires in May 2003.

Other Commissioners include prominent leaders of the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim communities. More information about the Commission can be found at its website at