03:57 - Source: CNN
Ayotte: McCain was a champion for human rights
Washington CNN  — 

The McCain Institute has launched a new initiative calling for “mavericks” to promote human rights – its first major action since Sen. John McCain died in August.

The initiative, known as “Mavericks Needed,” is part of a larger project from the group that is set to run for at least two years, according to a news release from the institute.

“America has lost its most well-known Maverick. And it’s a position we need to fill. Because Mavericks are essential to freedom. Being a politician, veteran or prisoner of war is not a prerequisite. Will you answer the call?” the initiative’s website reads.

The McCain Institute also unveiled an ad for the initiative, titled “A Call For Mavericks,” which is set to run on digital platforms in various cities that include Austin, Texas; Kansas City, Missouri; Minneapolis; Nashville; and Phoenix, according to a news release.

“We stand for truth against falsehood, freedom against tyranny, right against injustice, hope against despair,” McCain says in the ad, a quote from a speech the Arizona Republican had given at the Munich Security Conference in 2017.

The initiative comes at a time when the United States, under the Trump administration, has been criticized for downplaying human rights as a foreign policy priority.

According to the news release, the institute earlier this year researched “American public opinion on human rights” and found “a significant lack of common understanding and support for the need to protect basic human rights and freedoms in the world.”

“Addressing that challenge is the long-term goal of this initiative,” the news release said.

The website asks individuals to sign a pledge that says they will “stand up to bullies,” “defend the dignity of all people” and “go to the polls and vote,” among other action items.

The McCain Institute, at Arizona State University, is “dedicated to advancing character-driven global leadership based on security, economic opportunity, freedom and human dignity.”