NSC – Coordinator for Democracy and Human Rights
White House

Shanthi Kalathil

Coordinator for Democracy and Human Rights

Serves on the White House National Security Council (NSC).

The Coordinator for Democracy and Human Rights is responsible for incorporating human rights and international democracy concerns as central elements of the administration’s foreign policy.

Shanthi Kalathil has been nominated to serve as Coordinator for Democracy and Human Rights on the National Security Council.

She previously served as Senior Director of the International Forum for Democratic Studies at the National Endowment for Democracy and as a senior democracy fellow at USAID.

Past statements on development, diplomacy, and U.S. global leadership:

On U.S. global leadership: Writing for the Brown Journal of World Affairs, Kalathil noted, “Many have extolled America’s ability to wield not only hard military power but soft power, the less easily quantifiable ability to influence, persuade and shape opinion through culture, diplomacy, and diffuse information flows.” (source)

On diplomacy: Writing for the Brown Journal of World Affairs, Kalathil, suggested: “As a nation with immense information resources, the United States should be studying and perhaps copying from relevant examples, doing all it can to utilize its own touted soft power. Ultimately, policymakers should bear in mind that if America does not effectively craft its image in a globalizing, information-rich world, there are others more than happy to take up the task-with the potential for significantly different results.” (source)

On democracy: In the Johns Hopkins University press’s Journal of Democracy, Kalathil wrote, “How technologies get used around the world depends on the populations that interact with them, the democratic and rights-based safeguards put in place by individual societies, and the democracies’ success at defining and defending their values within international institutions. Strong democratic safeguards that protect the rights of the vulnerable are essential. (source)

On China: In a 2018 Congressional hearing on “U.S. Responses to China’s Foreign Influence Operations” Kalathil said, “A rising China has increasingly been able to wield influence that chills free expression within democracies around the world. Successfully controlling political speech and expression at home has morphed into a broader approach that seeks to manipulate, suppress and surveil expression and the free exchange of ideas outside China’s borders.” (source)