Foreign Affairs

U.S. Helsinki Commission

Congressman Cohen is a Member of the Commission on Security & Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, which seeks to improve security by promoting human rights, democracy and cooperation on economic, environmental and military issues in 57 countries.  As a Commissioner, he has attended numerous hearings, briefings and meetings on these issues in Washington, DC, participated in every Annual Session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and has traveled to Helsinki member states on official travel to meet with foreign elected officials.

Supporting NATO and Countering Russian Aggression

Congressman Cohen introduced a resolution to express support for North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe (H.Res.256).  The resolution recognizes that NATO remains the most important and critical security link between the United States and Europe. It also recognizes the United States’ strong commitment to the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and democratic development of the countries that have emerged from the former Soviet Union, including Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova. H.Res.256 passed the House of Representatives on July 11, 2018.

Congressman Cohen is a cosponsor of the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act which establishes new sanctions, and enhances existing sanctions, against entities related to Russia, Iran and North Korea. It codifies and strengthens current sanctions contained in executive orders on Russia imposed by President Obama in response to Russian aggression in Ukraine and Moscow's interference in the U.S. presidential election and gives Congress an opportunity to reject presidential efforts to waive or terminate those and certain other sanctions.  The bill passed the House of Representatives on July 25, 2017 by 419-3 and the U.S. Senate on July 27, 2017 by 98-2 and became law on August 2, 2017.

Congressman Cohen is the sponsor of Punishing Continued Occupation of Ukraine Act which would punish Russia’s continued occupation of Crimea by targeting Russian financial institutions which are the soft underbelly of President Putin’s regime.  He is also a cosponsor of Secure America from Russian Interference Act which increases sanction on Russia and includes Punishing Continued Occupation of Ukraine Act.

Cuban Relations

Congressman Cohen has long supported normalizing U.S. relations with Cuba.  He supported President Obama’s steps to normalize relations with Cuba and has cosponsored the Promoting American Agricultural and Medical Exports to Cuba Act and the Free Trade With Cuba Act .  These bills aim to lift restrictions on exports of agriculture and medical goods to Cuba, ease travel restrictions to and from Cuba for U.S. citizens or legal residents, and repeal the embargo on trade with Cuba, respectively.  He has also written to the Cuban government in support of medical diplomacy with Memphis health institutions.

Syrian Refugees and Immigration Restriction

Congressman Cohen has remained adamantly opposed to President Trump’s anti-refugee and immigration rhetoric. In a time when millions are suffering, it is our duty as Americans to find ways to help, not to isolate ourselves. For this reason, Congressman Cohen has taken action to counteract President Trump’s refugee ban including cosponsoring the Statue of Liberty Values (SOLVE) 2.0 Act to prohibit the use of federal funds from being used to implement President Trump’s ban. Congressman Cohen also signed on to a letter urging federal departments to comply with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision to overturn the travel ban that would have prevented people from several countries, including Syria, to travel to the U.S.


Israel has been our closest friend and ally in the Middle East since 1948 when the U.S. became the first country to recognize the establishment of the Jewish state.  Our nearly seven decades long relationship has contributed to the national security of both of our countries and remains as important today as it was during the tumultuous first 20 years of Israel’s existence.  This is why the safety, security and right of Israel to exist as a democratic Jewish state alongside a Palestinian state has been Congressman Cohen’s focus when considering any legislation or actions pertaining to Israel or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  

Iran Nuclear Deal

Congressman Cohen voted for the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, which passed the House and Senate and was signed into law by President Obama on May 22, 2015.  This bill gave Congress 60 days to review the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) before conducting a vote of disapproval.  The JCPOA is an historic agreement between the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, China and Iran to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.  After carefully reviewing the JCPOA and listening to constituents who oppose and support the agreement as well as speaking personally with President Obama and Secretary Kerry about the agreement, meeting with U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Dan Baer, attending classified briefings and meetings with officials at the Vienna headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency while on official travel, and speaking with Asian officials and diplomats, he voted to approve the JCPOA as a diplomatic way to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and avoid possible military action. Congressman Cohen is concerned that President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the deal will cause more instability in the region and will cause Iran to move towards a nuclear bomb.

More on Foreign Affairs

July 29, 2021 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), the Co-Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, today introduced the Transnational Repression Accountability and Prevention (TRAP) Act along with Ranking Member Congressman Joe Wilson (SC-02). This bill is intended to end abuse of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) by autocrats misusing its detention mechanisms to pursue, harass, or persecute political opponents and dissidents with trumped up criminal charges.


July 28, 2021 Press Release

WASHINGTON –Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), Co-Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, today announced that his former Congressional aide, William T. Connor IV, will be the Senior House Staff Representative at the Commission.

Co-Chairman Cohen made the following statement:

July 21, 2021 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), recently named the Co-Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), also known as the Helsinki Commission, today presided at a hearing on “The First Clean Olympics? Rodchenkov Act Enforcement at Toyko.” The Commission heard from expert witnesses on the effort to hold those accountable for the unfair advantage provided by performance-enhancing drugs as the Olympic Games begin in Tokyo.

July 20, 2021 Press Release
WASHINGTON—Helsinki Commission Chairman Sen. Ben Cardin (MD), Co-Chairman Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-09), Commissioner Sen. Marco Rubio (FL), and Rep. Steve Chabot (OH-01) today introduced the Revealing and Explaining Visa Exclusions for Accountability and Legitimacy (REVEAL) Act. The bill will allow the Secretary of State to publish the names of human rights abusers, like those responsible for the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, and kleptocrats barred from entry into the United States as a result of visa bans.
June 30, 2021 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), who has served on the Commission for Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) since March 2011, was named Co-Chairman of the Commission by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The CSCE is also known as the Helsinki Commission.

Speaker Pelosi made the announcement this morning:

June 11, 2021 Press Release

MEMPHIS – Today, Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), a longtime member of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, commended Sweden and its Foreign Minister Ann Linde as they take the Chairpersonship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

In his opening statement at the meeting of OSCE members, Congressman Cohen said in part:

May 25, 2021 Press Release

SANTA FE, New Mexico -- Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), a senior member of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, today addressed remotely a meeting of the European Union – United States Parliamentary Consultation on Human Rights. He said he was speaking following the recent “unfortunate close call with authoritarianism” in the United States, and expressed concerns about the human rights outlook in Hong Kong, Belarus and Ukraine.

In his remarks, Congressman Cohen said in part:

April 7, 2021 Press Release

MEMPHIS -- Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today released the following statement in observance of Yom Ha’Shoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, on Thursday:

April 6, 2021 Press Release

MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) made the following statement after learning this morning of the passing of Congressman Alcee Hastings of Florida:

March 1, 2021 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressmen Steve Cohen (TN-09), Steve Chabot (OH-01), Gerry E. Connolly (VA-11) and Joe Wilson (SC-05), Chairmen of the bipartisan Caucus on U.S.-Turkey Relations and Turkish Americans, today released the following statement: