Welcome to USCIRF

Elliott Abrams, Commissioner

Elliott Abrams is senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in Washington, D.C. He served as deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser in the administration of President George W. Bush, where he supervised U.S. policy in the Middle East for the White House.

Mr. Abrams joined the Bush administration in June 2001 as special assistant to the president and senior director of the National Security Council (NSC) for democracy, human rights, and international organizations. From December 2002 to February 2005, he served as special assistant to the president and senior director of the National Security Council for Near East and North African affairs. He served as deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for global democracy strategy from February 2005 to January 2009, and in that capacity supervised both the Near East and North African affairs, and the democracy, human rights, and international organizations directorates of the NSC.

Mr. Abrams was president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., from 1996 until joining the White House staff. He was a member of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom from 1999 to 2001, and chairman of the commission in the latter year. Mr. Abrams is currently a member of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, which directs the activities of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. He teaches U.S. foreign policy at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Abrams spent four years working for the United States Senate, including as special counsel to Senator Henry M. Jackson in 1975-1976, and as special counsel and then chief of staff to Senator Daniel P. Moynihan from January 1977 to June 1979. Mr. Abrams served in the State Department during all eight years of the Reagan Administration, as assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs, then as assistant secretary for human rights and humanitarian affairs, and finally as assistant secretary for inter-American affairs. In 1988, Mr. Abrams received the Secretary of State's distinguished service award from Secretary George P. Shultz.

Mr. Abrams was educated at Harvard College (BA, 1969), the London School of Economics (MSc, 1970) and Harvard Law School (JD, 1973). He is the author of three books, Undue Process (1993), Security and Sacrifice (1995), and Faith or Fear: How Jews Can Survive in a Christian America (1997); and the editor of three more, Close Calls: Intervention, Terrorism, Missile Defense and "Just War” Today; Honor Among Nations: Intangible Interests and Foreign Policy; and The Influence of Faith: Religion and American Foreign Policy. He also writes about U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues, on his CFR blog, “Pressure Points.”