State Department Report Reaffirms U.S. Commitment To Human Rights At Home And Abroad

February 26, 2009 12:00 am

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NEW YORK – The State Department’s Human Rights Report for 2008 is an encouraging sign that the Obama administration intends to renew the United States’ commitment to protecting and advancing human rights at home and abroad, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. The report, submitted to Congress yesterday, helps fulfill the formal responsibility of the State Department to uphold international human rights standards.

In her preface to the report, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton stated that the “promotion of human rights is an essential piece of [U.S.] foreign policy. Not only will we seek to live up to our ideals on American soil, we will pursue greater respect for human rights as we engage other nations and people around the world.”

The following can be attributed to Jamil Dakwar, Director of the ACLU Human Rights Program:

“We are encouraged by Secretary Clinton’s commitment to promoting human rights both at home and abroad. The acknowledgement of past abuses and the promise to promote human rights not only in our foreign policy, but also on American soil, are important steps toward making a clean break with harmful Bush administration policies and restoring America to a nation that leads on human rights by example.

We are hopeful that the new administration will use this report as a guide to taking action. Opening a new chapter in promoting and protecting human rights at home and abroad will require all branches of government to work together to bring current policies and laws into compliance with treaty obligations.”

In its transition document delivered to the new administration, the ACLU called on the government to reconstitute the Interagency Working Group (IWG) on Human Rights to coordinate the promotion of and respect for human rights and the implementation of human rights obligations in U.S. domestic policy among federal agencies and departments. President Bill Clinton issued an executive order creating an IWG in 1998, but the group was effectively disbanded during the Bush administration.

The 2008 Human Rights Report and preface are available online at:

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