The Candidates and The World

Transition 2012

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Foreign Policy Update: Human Rights and the Next President

by Newsteam Staff
August 9, 2012

A woman is restrained by police during a protest to defend Article 31 -- the right to free assembly -- of the Russian constitution in Moscow July 31, 2012 (Sergei Karpukhin/Courtesy Reuters). A woman is restrained by police during a protest to defend Article 31 -- the right to free assembly -- of the Russian constitution in Moscow July 31, 2012 (Sergei Karpukhin/Courtesy Reuters).

A group of international human rights advocates recently released a list of the ten most pressing challenges for the winner of the 2012 presidential race, noting that it is in the best interest of the world as well as that of the U.S. interests abroad to protect human rights.

The joint effort of Freedom House, the Connect U.S. Fund, and the Human Rights Working Group takes into account the priorities of twenty-two different human rights organizations. While both President Barack Obama and presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney have addressed some human rights issues so far in the campaign, the report urges more substantial debate from the candidates and input from international organizations.

“Human rights affect almost every aspect of U.S. engagement abroad,” the paper’s authors say. “Governments that abuse human rights make unstable and unreliable partners across the range of U.S. interests, from business to arms control to counter-terrorism. By strengthening the protection of human rights, the United States not only promotes its own values but also advances its strategic interests.”

CFR’s Stewart M. Patrick at The Internationalist blog says “the enormity of the challenge to protect human rights around the world should not deter President Obama or President Romney in 2013.” In this CFR video, Patrick talks about challenges facing the next president in the UN, including human rights challenges:

For more on the candidates’ stances on human rights, check out CFR’s Issue Tracker on The Candidates on the United Nations.

Suggested Other Reading:

The Miami Herald‘s Frida Ghitis writes that the United States must lead the rest of the world on human rights, or no other country will. “America’s relative power has declined significantly, especially in the last half-decade of economic weakness,” she says. “The powers whose rise has paralleled the American decline, such as China, have shown no inclination to lift a finger in defense of human rights or for the prevention of conflicts that could devastate civilian populations.”

CFR’s Suzanne Nossel discusses how the UN Human Rights Council’s policies have improved since the United States joined the group in 2009 and offers recommendations to help the United States maintain and build upon the council’s progress.

– Gayle S. Putrich, Contributing Editor

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