Countries of Particular Concern: Why This U.S. Foreign Policy Tool Is Often Ineffective and How to Make It Better

The Country of Particular Concern (CPC) designation is an important instrument in the U.S. government’s foreign policy toolbox. Governments that engage in or tolerate “particularly severe violations” of religious freedom risk receiving the unenviable distinction of being labeled a CPC. This designation can be accompanied by significant diplomatic and economic consequences.

Unfortunately, the State Department is often reluctant to designate deserving foreign governments as CPCs. Even when the Department does issue a designation, it does not always follow it up with the enforcement necessary to promote meaningful improvement. Steps ought to be taken to ensure that the CPC designation is better utilized so that the United States can be a more effective advocate for religious freedom abroad.

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