This week, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders used a little-known, decades-old law to force the Senate to vote on whether to request an investigation of potential human rights abuses by Israel in its war against Hamas. The obscure process that Sanders used is known as Section 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act. The law allows Congress to request a mandatory human rights report from the State Department on a specified country. And if the State Department does not provide a report within 30 days of the request, U.S. security assistance to the target country stops.

While the resolution ultimately failed on January 16, it shows that Section 502B has the potential to become a powerful tool for forcing public discussion about alleged human rights and the United States’ role in facilitating them.

Joining the show to unpack how Section 502B works, along with its history and new efforts to use it, is John Chappell. John is an Advocacy & Legal Fellow at the Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC). He’s an expert on Section 502B.

Listen to the episode by clicking below.

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