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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Unveils New U.S. Human Rights Policy

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at Georgetown University

That Hillary Clinton–she just keep on truckin’–doing her best to make the world a better place. In a speech at Georgetown University this morning, Clinton announced a new human rights agenda for the U.S., putting the emphasis on “principled pragmatism.”putting the emphasis on what she called “principled pragmatism.”

Just days after President Barack Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize while defending the concept of a just war, Clinton outlined a human rights policy calling for people to be free from tyranny but also free to “seize the opportunities of a full life.”

Human rights experts said the speech was important, coming at a time when the Obama administration’s message on human rights had become increasingly muddied but they said the proof would be in the administration’s actions.

[….]

Clinton said a commitment to human rights started with universal principles. She noted that Obama wanted Guantanamo prison closed and had issued an executive order his second day in office prohibiting the use of torture by any U.S. official.

She said the United States would report next year on human trafficking both at home and abroad, and would participate in a U.N. review of “our own human rights record, just as we encourage other nations to do.”

Human rights advocate “Sarah Mendelson, head of the Human Rights and Security Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies” said that Clinton’s speech signaled a change from the policies of the Bush administration, but only if the Obama administration follows through.

Unfortunately, at this point we are all a little skeptical about Obama’s motives and goals, but at least he apparently approved of Clinton’s *words.* Here is a little more from the speech:

“Now, the champions of human potential have never had it easy. We may call rights inalienable, but making them so has always been hard work. And no matter how clearly we see our ideals, taking action to make them real requires tough choices. Even if everyone agrees that we should do whatever is most likely to improve the lives of people on the ground, we won’t agree on what course of action fits that description in every case. That is the nature of governing. We all know examples of good intentions that did not produce results. And we can learn from instances in which we have fallen short. Past failures are proof of how difficult progress is, but we do not accept claims that progress is impossible.”

At Vox Populi, the Georgetown blog, there was a little more detail about Clinton’s appearance. It sounds like it was a popular event even though it’s finals week:

They were reading textbooks intently in the stairwell of Gaston Hall before the event, and proofreading their essays as they waited to be let out of the Hall afterwards, but despite being in the heat of finals season, Georgetown students had packed Gaston Hall by 11:15 a.m. to hear Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speak about the Obama Administration’s Human Rights Agenda for the 21st Century at noon.

At the end of Clinton’s speech, students were allowed three questions, and they were good ones:

Students asked about how the U.S. can protect LGBT rights in Uganda, where there is pending legislation to make homosexuality an offense punishable by death, and to balance support for Iranian protesters while pursuing a security strategy.

Clinton said the U.S. had expressed its concerns about the anti-LGBT legislation directly and indirectly, and that Iran was “a good example of a hard call.”

In that case, they “didn’t want attention to be shifted from the legitimate concerns to the United States” by speaking out too vehemently she said.

Finally, a student asked about the role of artists in the campaign for human rights, to which Clinton said, “artists are one of the most effective tools we have” for promoting human rights.

You can watch the video of the speech here.

I’m so happy that Clinton talked about both the Uganda situation and human trafficking. If only she can hold Obama’s feet to the fire and get him to go beyond “just words.” If anyone can do that, it’s Hillary!

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36 Responses

  1. I’m sure Obama doesn’t mind her words, but how much action to back them up will he permit?

  2. I interpret “Now, the champions of human potential have never had it easy….We all know examples of good intentions that did not produce results” as a subtle nudge to Obama.

  3. From Hillary’s speech:

    And we must light a fire of human potential through access to education and economic opportunity. Build the foundation, lift the ceiling, and light the fire all together, all at once. Because when a person has food and education but not the freedom to discuss and debate with fellow citizens, he is denied the life he deserves. And when a person is too hungry or sick to work or vote or worship, she is denied a life she deserves. Freedom doesn’t come in half measures, and partial remedies cannot redress the whole problem.

  4. I just came across this interview with Hillary on Pakistan–from the 10th.

    http://afpak.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/12/14/tete_a_tete_with_hillary_clinton

  5. @markos RT: @aravosis: When it still feels like Bush is in the WH and Gingrich the Congress, I don’t call that ‘change’

  6. OT: I just saw this ad at DoubleJointedFingers. I wish she’d comment more often but I’m glad I bookmarked her site a while back.

    http://doublejointedfingers.blogspot.com/2009/11/photo-found-here-more-i-think-about.html

    “Your Closet Space Is Shrinking As Fast As Her Right to Choose”

    Anyone else see this ad around NYC?

    • Yes, I’ve seen that on the West Side Highway. It’s been running off and on for a couple of years. They rotate witty and sometimes controversial stuff. Interesting they have this one back up now given Stupak and all. Their target would be singlish women living in Manhattan.

  7. Okay, just making my way ’round the blogs and just saw BTD’s post “The Primary Wars” from Alegre’s Corner where Pacific John wrote a post in response. It’s good so go read it, “How Obama Rigged the Caucuses to Win the Nomination”:
    http://alegrescorner.soapblox.net/showDiary.do?diaryId=3830

    I also loves Goldberry/Riverdaughter’s response to BTD’s post:
    http://www.talkleft.com/comments/2009/12/14/8650/4791/51#51

    and Pacific John’s: http://www.talkleft.com/comments/2009/12/14/8650/4791/82#82

    • What? Is caucus fraud actually getting more press? Not considered a whiney bitter-knitter complaint?

      ….off to read.

    • That was a good review of the caucus fraud.

      I’m one of the eye witnesses to Caucus fraud in WA State.

      One Pacific John Doesn’t mention is that WA State had both a primary and a caucus — and right there is more than enough proof of a rigged caucus in my state.

      When I left the farce of a caucus that day — I walked away from the Democrat party FOREVER. What was done and what was allowed to be done in the dem caucus is unforgivable.

  8. From Huff & post:

    Joe Lieberman has forced his will on the Senate Democratic caucus and the nation as a whole. After the party reached a compromise last week to effectively drop the public option in exchange for allowing 55- to 64-year-olds to buy into Medicare, that compromise is now in doubt.

    Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut, told Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Sunday that he will block any bill that includes the buy-in. As the 60th vote needed to overcome a Republican filibuster, he can do that.

    Following a caucus-wide meeting Monday evening, the measure was all but scuttled.

    “It’s looking like that’s the case. I can’t guarantee it. At this point, at this stage, that seemed to be the case,” acknowledged Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.). Asked why it had been dropped, he said, “I didn’t confirm that now. It’s just a matter of getting support from 60 senators.”

    • Looks like RIP for the Medicare Buy-in (in name only) …

      From the Hill:

      Reid bows to centrists, will drop Medicare buy-in provision
      By J. Taylor Rushing and Alexander Bolton – 12/14/09 07:23 PM ET

      Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is prepared to give in to demands from centrists in order to pass the healthcare legislation before Christmas, senators say.

      Reid indicated at a closed-door Democratic Conference meeting on Monday that he would drop a controversial Medicare buy-in provision, which was offered as a replacement to the government-run health insurance option, to win the votes of Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.).

      • this health deform for Christmas is going to be like opening up a really badly knit sweater that can’t be worn in public or really anywhere and when you pull on the one loose thread the whole thing falls apart.

        • I really don’t understand the point of any of this. Reid can’t possibly be as stupid as Aravosis or kos. It’s all kabuki, so the point of leaking bs about an agreement is what? The nutroots are irrelevant, and all it does is make Reid look hapless and foolish. What do they think they’re accomplishing?

    • Tell me again why we’re better off?

  9. Red Sox got some pitching–signed John Lackey–and Mike Cameron, for centerfield?

  10. Oral Roberts just died and it wasn’t from people not sending him enough money. It was pneumonia.

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