Human Rights Attorneys: Rex Tillerson a Danger to Humanity, Planet

January 10, 2017, New York – In advance of the Senate confirmation hearing scheduled tomorrow for former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) issued the following statement:

As CEO of ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson demonstrated an aggressive determination to do whatever it took to benefit his business interests, regardless of the cost to humanity or the planet. He has given no indication that he will begin to respect or would uphold international law, including human rights protections for communities impacted by transnational business enterprises or environmental protections for the global community, or that he would engage constructively with institutions charged with monitoring U.S. compliance with its international legal obligations – a key component of the State Department’s work.  Under his watch, Exxon was accused of suppressing its own research that highlighted the threats of climate change, all the while creating spin to cast doubt on climate science.

Moreover, the cozy relationship he has cultivated with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has disregarded basic human rights, including serious crackdowns on dissent, and the rights of LGBTQ persons and human rights defenders, is deeply worrisome. Tillerson brokered billion-dollar deals with Russia and is widely reported to have further business interests in Russia, particularly in the oil and gas industry; it is also far from the only example where Tillerson has turned a blind eye to serial human rights violations by foreign governments in the pursuit of profit. Senators on both sides of the aisle have expressed fears of his dark alliances. CCR’s fears go beyond his alliances: Tillerson, as Secretary of State, would be nothing less than a manifestation of “corporate capture” – a phenomenon already underway but taken to dangerous new levels by Donald Trump and company.    

As someone with zero public-sector experience who has never expressed an interest in human rights or diplomacy, Tillerson as Secretary of State raises a giant red flag and the question: What’s in it for him?

CCR joined 15 civil society organizations in sending a letter to members of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations  concerning the confirmation hearing of Rex Tillerson as the United States Secretary of State. You can read the letter here.

The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at


Last modified 

January 10, 2017