I believe that basic human rights and fundamental freedoms must be upheld and respected around the world, in every nation and in every community. No child should have to suffer unnecessarily simply because of where he or she was born. I also believe that poverty is one of the root causes of extremism around the globe. The United States must be a leader in the international arena through investments in diplomacy, economic and social development, political stability, and democratic representation. In addition, our international policies must be part of our comprehensive national security strategy. In order to ensure security at home, we must address the root causes of extremism by fostering development and freedom abroad.
Each year, millions of people throughout the world suffer without needed health care and education, and basic freedoms. It is unacceptable that every year millions of lives are lost due to infectious diseases, malnutrition, and complications of pregnancy and childbirth, and it is unacceptable that thousands of people are threatened, attacked, and silenced simply for standing up for what they believe in. I am a strong supporter of assistance that fosters stable governments that provide essential services and respect human rights. In turn, I have introduced bipartisan legislation, H.R.2144, the 21st Century Global Health Technology Act, to improve global health care by promoting the development of health products that are affordable, culturally appropriate, and easy to use in low-resource health systems.
In 2008, the United States became a full member of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. Under the Convention, the United States requires that intercountry adoption service providers be accredited to improve transparency and accountability. Unfortunately, these rules only apply to adoptions from countries that have signed and implemented the Convention. Adoption agencies who work with non-Convention countries do not need to meet the accreditation requirements, creating a double standard for the treatment of children and families. In order to end this double standard, I have introduced bipartisan legislation, H.R. 6027, the Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act of 2012, to create a more unified system for intercountry adoptions. This legislation would combat fraud and improve transparency by requiring accreditation for all intercountry adoption service providers. Universal accreditation will help improve the intercountry adoption process to ensure that it is lawful, safe for the child, and respectful of the families involved.
While all military troops left Iraq at the end of 2011, our country's men and women continue to risk their lives in Afghanistan. Despite several years of commitment, real advancement in Afghanistan is still in question. I believe progress in the region is achievable, only with capable, accountable partners. As you may know, I advocated for firm timelines and increased accountability in Iraq. In Afghanistan, I believe these elements are also critical. It is important that the Afghan people view us as a dedicated partner, but offering unconditional, unending military support is not the answer. We must pursue a strategy that supports the creation of a secure and stable Afghanistan, a strategy that looks beyond the current political failings and works towards a strong democratic future. Only with a successful Afghanistan can our enemies truly be defeated and regional security be achieved.
Iran continues to ignore international law and is moving forward with its nuclear program. While our current sanctions are having an impact on Iran, I believe more can be done, and we must act now. I am a cosponsor of H.R. 1905, the Iran Threat Reduction Act, introduced by Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fl), to strengthen current U.S. sanction laws in order to stop Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons and other threatening acts. This legislation would improve current sanctions and impose tough new penalties on Iran. H.R. 1905 targets Iran's leadership to help end the threat of a nuclear Iran and stop the oppression of the Iranian people. On December 14, 2011, I voted in favor of H.R. 1905, and the bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 410 to 11. H.R. 1905 was then referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
I believe that the United States is a global leader and should act as such. To promote global security and global prosperity, we must support our basic tenants of opportunity, human rights, and democracy to foster genuine relationships with international actors. I have been a strong advocate for the use of our foreign assistance as an integral part of our overall national security strategy and foreign policy. I am proud to be a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and I am eager to develop the next generation of foreign assistance through pending foreign assistance reform. We must create an overarching strategy that complements our existing programs and ensures they fit with the democratic and humanitarian goals and ideals of the United States.