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December 2009: Obama's Human Rights Policy

Introduction to the Month's Focal PieceAnnotation of

Obama's speech to the United Nations General Assembly (September, 2009).

Does Obama believes in human rights? By Bret Stephens. The Wall Street Journal. October 19, 2009.

~ The Editors

Cath CollinsHope over Experience?
by Cath Collins

“The option for genuine multilateralism, for leading the way in accepting the binding nature of international law and refusing to invoke the veto option whenever national interests are trimmed, is always there. But the US has consistently refused to take it. This is where Obama could make a difference(.)"

Katherine HiteChange We Can Believe In?
by Katherine Hite

"But it's very hard not to be dismayed by some of the continuities from the Bush to the Obama administration (.). When it comes to US-Latin America relations, such decisions include: professing support for progressive immigration reform while expanding regressive anti-immigration measures; claiming a commitment to human rights and democratic engagement while facilitating increased military control over domestic affairs in the region; and voicing a desire for a multilateral approach to Latin American affairs while patently undermining such an approach."

Stephen JamesFrom Inspiring Hope to Taking Action: Obama and human rights
by Stephen James

"While President George H. Bush spoke of a new world order, and his 'misunderestimated' son mangled the English language at countless press conferences, with Barack Obama the USA now has a talented orator as a president. There is a new word order. But does the new and skilful rhetoric match the reality when it comes to human rights?"

Henry KrischThe Statesman's Dilemma: Peace or Justice? Or Neither?
by Henry Krisch

"What advice then to give President Obama regarding this difficult balance? I would suggest three modest steps: first, do what you can where you can and disregard universal consistency; second, link your criticism of human rights violations with the traditions and efforts of the people in a given country who are themselves fighting for change; finally, to the greatest extent possible, link our relations with this country with progress on human rights."

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