TRAINING AT THE FOREIGN SERVICE INSTITUTE
RELATED TO THE INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM ACT
I. Training Related to Human Rights Issues
Over the past 2 years, the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) has worked with the Secretary of State's Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom Abroad, the office of the Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs, and the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor in implementing H.R. 2431, the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. The result of this effort has been steady progress in updating a wide range of courses to enhance training related to religious rights. For example, through overlapping coverage of religious rights in FSI's Junior Officer and Political Tradecraft courses we ensure that all officers likely to be responsible for drafting the human rights report and the international religious freedom report receive all of the relevant documents described in the Advisory Committee's May 17, 1999 report and take part in up to 7 hours of training devoted to human rights issues. FSI also has worked with the bureaus responsible for global affairs at the Department to improve student recruitment for the twice-a-year Global Issues course, which includes a full day on these human rights and religious freedom issues. Moreover, FSI continues to incorporate issues related to religious freedom into consular training lectures and role-playing exercises along the lines called for in the May 17 report.
II. Courses Offered
The School of Professional and Area Studies (SPAS) at the Foreign Service Institute offers training relevant to the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (IRFA) in a variety of courses. The following courses are offered by the divisions of Political Training, Consular Training, and Area Studies:
Political Tradecraft and Political Economic Tradecraft
Each of these two basic 3-week long courses is offerd three times per year. The students are full time U.S. Government employees (mostly State Department Foreign Service Officers) being assigned for the first time to work in an embassy or consulate political, economic, or combined political/economic section overseas. These are essentially required courses in that State Department officers are assigned to these courses by the personnel system and exceptions are rare. During their careers, a large proportion of these officers/students will have some responsibility for preparing individual country human rights and religious freedom reports. Therefore, these two courses provide training to one of the major classes of officers identified in the IRFA.
In these courses each student is provided a course notebook that contains all of the items listed in Section III. In addition there is a 90-minute segment in each course devoted to religious freedom as a basic human right, drawing on the IRFA. The importance of religious issues in the modern world also is raised in a segment of the course devoted to strategic planning and U.S. foreign policy priorities. There is also usually a segment of the course that includes a discussion of religious persecution and identity as a factor in ethnic conflict. Additionally, there is usually a segment on human rights in Asia that addresses many of these issues (including religious persecution in Tibet).
This 3-day course is given twice a year and is geared toward mid-level foreign affairs and national security professionals working for the Department of State and other agencies. In the fall, this course is combined with a separate module on human rights.
In these courses students are provided a course notebook that contains all of the items in Section III. In addition there is a 90-minute segment in each course devoted to religious freedom as a basic human right, drawing on the IRFA. The importance of religious issues in the modern world also is raised in several of the other segments, including one devoted to strategic planning and U.S. foreign policy priorities.
America's Role in Peace Operations and International Conflict and U.S. Policy
These two 3¸-day courses focus on various aspects of international conflict. Each class is aimed at providing preventive diplomacy training to up to 25 mid-level foreign affairs and national security professionals working for the Department of State and other agencies.
In these courses students are provided a course notebook that contains all of the items in Section III. In addition there is a 90-minute segment in each course that includes a discussion of religious persecution and identity as a factor in ethnic conflict.
Basic Consular Course
This course serves as the prerequisite for obtaining a consular commission. It is aimed at junior officers going overseas to fill consular positions; dependents of U.S. Government employees who will serve as consular associates overseas; and domestic employees of the Bureau of Consular Affairs in order that they may serve on temporary duty as consular officers should the need arise.
The revised course schedule includes a lecture on "Working with INS" that incorporates discussion of refugee and asylum issues as these pertain to consular officers. The subject also is covered in further detail in the Self-Instructional Guide (SIG) on immigrant visa processing, which includes a chapter on "Refugees, Asylum, Walk-Ins, and Parole." This chapter describes the criteria of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees; the U.S. refugee program; and processing requirements for refugees. Future plans include the incorporation of appropriate scenarios involving religious minorities into the "role play" portion of the training on consular prison visits.
Advanced Consular Course
The Advanced Consular Course is a 3-week course aimed at mid-level consular officers being assigned to overseas posts as first-time managers, as well as Civil Service employees of the Bureau of Consular Affairs.
The current schedule routinely includes a session, offered by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), on refugee processing and policy; and a second session, offered by representatives of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor's Asylum Office (DRL/CRA), on U.S. asylum law and processing. Emphasis is given to the role of a consular officer in these areas, to include processing of refugee-and asylee-following to join cases (based on approved I-730 petitions).
The Consular Training Division of SPAS is working with PRM to develop a CD-ROM based correspondence program on refugee policy and processing that could be used by refugee coordinators, PRM employees, and consular officers.
The Foreign Service Institute and the Appeal of Conscience Foundation cosponsor a major symposium focused on religious freedom and the role of the U.S. diplomat. Officers in language and area studies are brought together for a day-long session that incorporates both the broad policy issues and the country-specific aspects related to their ongoing assignments. The opening session emphasizes the importance of religious freedom as a priority goal of U.S. foreign policy. (In 1998 this session featured Congressman Benjamin A. Gilman (R-NY), Chairman of the House International Relations Committee, who discussed the development and passage of the International Religious Freedom Act; Ambassador Robert Seiple, who added his perspective as the Secretary of State's Special Representative on Religious Freedom; and Ambassador Rozanne Ridgway, whose keynote address "Religion and Diplomacy: Lessons from the Cold War," painted a broad picture of policy issues in the context of recent diplomatic history.)
After the keynote session, the 300 participants divide into country-specific sessions in which officers preparing for assignment overseas interact in seminars with over 40 religious leaders, scholars, and other specialists who are brought together especially for this symposium. In addition, representatives from the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor address policy and job related concerns. This format provides each officer preparing for an overseas assignment with a foundation in at least three important aspects of this issue: the global/U.S. policy dimension; the country-specific dimensions, and the particular policy or job related aspects that they can expect to deal with in their ongoing assignments.
In addition to the annual Appeal of Conscience Conference, which FSI co-hosts and which the Area Studies division organizes, all Area Studies courses (both regional and country specific) address the issue of religion, religious freedom, and human rights. Participants receive substantial information encompassing the full range of issues affecting particular regions, including religions, religious history, religious traditions, religious freedom, and human rights. Students also receive reading lists that direct them to more detailed material.
Ambassadorial and Deputy Chief of Mission Training
In these courses students are provided a course notebook that contains all of the items listed in Section III. The bureaus responsible for global affairs also provide oral briefings, as appropriate.
III. Background Material on Religious Freedom
The following background materials related to religious freedom was provided by FSI to students in Tradecraft, Global Affairs and Human Rights, and International Conflict courses during 1998 and 1999:
--Remarks by the President to Religious Leaders (June 18, 1998)
--Universal Declaration of Human Rights
--International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
--U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence
--Department Telegram explaining the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998
--Text of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 --Department Telegram providing instructions for drafters of the International Religious Freedom Report
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