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USCIRF is a federally mandated commission which is partly appointed by Congress and partly by the President. One of the main jobs of the Commision is to tier countries based on their religious freedom. Tier 1 generally corresponds to later State Department CPC (Country of Particular Concern) designations, while tier 2 countries generally get added to the Special Watchlist (SWL).

But the USCIRF designations generally seem more extensive than those of the State Department. For example, in 2018, Russia was tier 1 according to USCIRF, but only added to the watchlist (rather than CPC) by the State Department, so one tier down compared to the USCIRF recommendation. Likewise, India was tier 2 according to USCIRF, but was not even on the State Department watchlist.

Note that being designated CPC doesn't necessarily entail any sanctions being applied, as the administration additionally has the latitude give a "national interest" waiver. Typically US allies designated CPC like Saudi Arabia (and more recently Pakistan) have been getting the waiver, while US adversaries like China do not get the waiver.

Still, I'm interested to know which countries have [systematically] received a different CPC/SWL designation than the USCIRF recommendation. Is there a list (e.g. by year) of which countries were on the USCIRF tiers but received a lesser State Department designation?

  • Could also be that the State Department is stricter than the commission? – JonathanReez Jan 7 at 1:45
  • @JonathanReez: I don't know. I haven't seen any examples. – Fizz Jan 7 at 1:49

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