Posts Tagged ‘Bahrein’

U.S. State Department Releases “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011″ (with video)

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Today, May 24, 2012, three months after the statutory deadline of February 25, the State Department finally released its annual report on the human rights situations in the countries of the world.

The U.S. Department of State “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011″ are found here.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s remarks at the presentation of the reports are found here.

A video of Secretary Clinton’s remarks and the following briefing and question and answer session with Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Michael H. Posner, is found on C-Span here.

In her written preface to the reports, Secretary Clinton stated the following:

Secretary’s Preface

The world changed immeasurably over the course of 2011. Across the Middle East, North Africa, and far beyond, citizens stood up to demand respect for human dignity, more promising economic opportunities, greater political liberties, and a say in their own future. Often they faced tremendous odds and endured violent responses from their governments. The resulting upheavals are still unfolding today in places like Syria, where the regime has brutalized its own people. In Burma, after years of repression, the government has taken preliminary steps to allow reforms to begin. This year’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices chronicle these dramatic changes and the stories of the people defending human rights in almost 200 countries around the world.

Congress mandated these country reports more than three decades ago to help guide lawmakers’ decisions on foreign military and economic aid, but they have evolved into something more. Today, governments, intergovernmental organizations, scholars, journalists, activists, and others around the world rely on these reports as an essential update on human rights conditions around the world – where we have seen progress, where progress has come too slowly or at great cost, and all too often, where it has been rolled back.

Our reports are founded on the simple truth at the heart of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – that all people are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Respect for human rights is not a western construct or a uniquely American ideal; it is the foundation for peace and stability everywhere. Universal human rights include the right of citizens to assemble peacefully and to seek to reform or change their governments, a central theme around the world in 2011. As President Obama has said, “History offers a clear verdict: Governments that respect the will of their own people, that govern by consent and not coercion, are more prosperous, they are more stable, and more successful than governments that do not.”

In my travels around the world as Secretary of State, I have met many individuals who put their lives on the line to advance the cause of human rights and justice. In ways small and large, they hold their governments accountable for upholding universal human rights. Their courage and commitment to peaceful reform are an inspiration. This report recognizes their bravery and should serve as a reminder: The United States stands with all those who seek to advance human dignity, and we will continue to shine the light of international attention on their efforts.

These reports are part of our broad commitment to promote human rights. Every day, officials from the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and many other government agencies devote themselves to advancing human rights as a priority of U.S. foreign policy. They champion our values in every country of the world and stand up for the inherent rights and freedoms of all people. I am honored to work alongside them, and I thank them for their contributions to this report.

On behalf of all of them, and everyone around the world working to protect human rights, I hereby transmit the Department of State’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011 to the United States Congress.

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State

Following her remarks, Secretary Clinton introduced Michael H. Posner, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, who then conducted a special briefing on the reports prepared under the supervision of his office. His remarks, and the transcript of the question and answer session which followed them, are found here.

A video containing Secretary Clinton’s remarks, Assistant Secretary Michael H. Posner remarks and his question and answer session is found on C-SPAN here.

The individual country reports are available on the State Department website.

The report covers 199 countries and territories, according to Assistant Secretary Posner.

The Trenchant Observer

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Shooting Straight About Military Operations in Libya

Monday, March 21st, 2011

President Obama and his National Security team dragged their feet until the very last moment, before they gave support to U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 (adopted 17 March 2011), authorizing the use of “all necessary means” to protect civilians in Libya.

See also U.N. Security Council Res. 1970 (26 Feb 2011) – text

Now they are being cute with words, and trying to “spin” the world’s perceptions of who is running the air campaign over Libya.

See General Jack Keane’s revealing reactions to questions on this subject, on the Charlie Rose Program, March 17, 2011

All of the talk about handing off primary responsibility to someone else is far removed from the hard and delicate work of implementing the Security Council’s resolution on the ground through military and other means.

In the long run, no one will care who was in charge of the air campaign if it is successful. By trying to be too clever, Obama has created an unnecessary problem for himself, which only serves to make him look weak and appear disingenuous.

The facts are that Nicholas Sarkozy of France and David Cameron of the United Kingdom moved the White House to reconsider its “hands-off policy” toward establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya. Fittingly, Sarkozy and the French conducted the airstrikes that saved Benghazi from further slaughter on March 20-21, and history will record that fact, to their great honor.

While populations in Arab and other countries may not pay too much attention to who is commanding air operations over Libya, one thing they will observe closely is whether the U.S. government is telling them the truth in a time of war.

Whatever benefit could be gained by letting the French lead the airstrikes on Libya–they seem to be the only ones who were prepared!–has already been won.

Now is the time for the United States–and all of its coalition partners–to present a united front. The leadership on the military side should be collective, whether the commander is American or from another (presumably NATO) country. It really doesn’t matter.

America has absolutely nothing to gain by appearing to distance itself from its own decision, and will appear weak and sow confusion if it tries to do so.

At this precise moment, the Middle East is in great ferment, at a time of great transition, from Tunis, Cairo and Tripoli to Manama and Sana’a. The geotectonic plates of history are moving. It is important to be paying close attention.

When President Obama gets back to Washington from his important but ill-timed trip to Brazil, Chile and El Salvador, he needs to stay in town, stay focused on the Middle East, change some key people on his national security staff, and start acting like the leader of the free world.

The Trenchant Observer

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