The Cable

State Department human rights official to NYU

Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Michael Posner will leave government to start a new center for business and human rights at the New York University Stern School of Business.

Posner, who has been at State since September 2009, becomes the latest State Department official to leave since Secretary of State John Kerry replaced Hillary Clinton last month. Other top officials who have already departed include Deputy Secretary Tom Nides, Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills, Undersecretary Maria Otero, Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell, Policy Planning Director and Deputy Chief of Staff Jake Sullivan, and many others. Posner will join NYU in March, the university said in a Thursday release, and will also serve as a professor in the Stern School's business and society program.

"Global businesses are confronting complex human rights challenges that demand approaches that go beyond ‘corporate social responsibility'. We need rules of the road that address companies' responsibilities to respect human rights in their own operations," Posner said in the release.

Sarah Labowitz, Posner's policy advisor at State, will also join NYU Stern as a research scholar and will help Posner set up the new center. Labowitz also worked as an advisor to State Department Cyber Coordinator Christopher Painter.

Posner's last trip as an administration official was last week, when he traveled to Burma and met with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, Presidential Advisor Soe Thein, Attorney General Dr. Tun Shin, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Lt. General Kyaw Zaw Myint, and other high-level government officials in the capital Naypyidaw.

Before joining State, Posner was the founder and president of Human Rights First. He also played a leadership role in several advocacy organizations, including the Fair Labor Association, the Global Network Initiative, and the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights.

"At NYU Stern we categorically reject the ‘or' and embrace the ‘and'. Profits and principle must coexist as citizens and consumers around the globe demand both. Mike is respected around the world for his distinguished 30-year career as a lawyer, advocate and policymaker," Stern Dean Peter Henry said in the statement. "His principled, practical approach to some of the world's toughest human rights and foreign policy challenges will break new ground in business education with the creation of the first center at a business school to focus on human rights."

The Cable

Wilson Center starts foreign policy fellowship program

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is launching a new foreign-policy fellowship meant to help congressional staffers smarten up on foreign policy.

"It's very personal to me, because security and intelligence are my bag and I spent 119 dog years in Congress trying to be informed and sensible about a lot of foreign-policy issues and there was really no place to learn," said former Congresswoman Jane Harman, now the president of the Wilson Center, in an interview with The Cable. "Especially on China, I felt the information gap was particularly large and both parties showed a total lack of nuance, especially during election season."

The program is a six-week seminar series featuring scholars, analysts, and policy practitioners who will meet with a select group of about 30 staffers from both chambers and both sides of the aisle on Friday afternoons for in-depth, interactive sessions on foreign policy -- followed by pizza and beer.

The program will be led by the Wilson Center Vice President for New Initiatives Aaron David Miller and Harman's Chief of Staff Jeewon Kim. Wilson held an information session about the new fellowship Thursday on Capitol Hill. Applications are due by March 18 and the first program begins in April.

"The fact that this is nonpartisan and bipartisan is critically important," Miller told The Cable. "The key is not advocacy; it's education."

Miller has already lined up as speakers former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, Brookings Institution scholar Robert Kagan, former Ambassador to China Stapleton Roy, AEI Scholar Norman Ornstein, and many others.

The first session will be on the question "Is American still the indispensable nation?," and the next sessions will focus on China and Russia, emerging powers, a session on Congress and foreign policy, and more. The program is being funded by the Carnegie Corporation and the Hewett Foundation.

The focus will be on attracting staffers who don't necessarily work on foreign-policy issues all day already but who have an interest in building up their expertise, Harman said.

"Mid-[level] to senior staffers stay on the Hill for a long time -- they are the staffers that members rely on. Maybe we can develop a professional cadre of informed bipartisan staff who will help the institution of Congress do much better policymaking. That's what the agenda is," Harman said.

Read the brochure here.