For the Resurgence of a Human Rights Champion
A double-header - my other man Jimmy (Carter not Breslin - though I'm found of the latter as well) weighs in on our new human rights policies:
To ensure that additional human rights embarrassments will not befall the United States, we must examine well-known, high-level and broad-based U.S. policies that have lowered our nation's commitment to basic human rights.Thank you, Jimmy. Did I ever mention that I voted for him four times? The first time, I had the great good fortune to have come of age in time to vote for the first (and unfortunately last to date) presidential candidate that I was excited and proud to support. My other main man (Wes Clark) won't be on the ballot in November but that didn't stop me from voting for Jimmy the 3rd and 4th times either. So, maybe I'll write Wes in this time. Oh, don't get your knickers in a twist -I live in a state that will only vote in a Democrat for president if the rapture comes and wipes out all of the Republican candidates. We don't even have a challenger for the idiot in the US Senate seat that's up this year - yep, unopposed.
Immediately after Sept. 11, 2001, many traumatized and fearful U.S. citizens accepted Washington's new approach with confidence that our leaders would continue to honor international agreements and human rights standards.
These American decisions had an immediate global impact. In response to urgent requests from human rights defenders from many countries, the late Sergio Vieira de Mello, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, and I agreed that it would be helpful to hear directly from a representative group. After the high commissioner's tragic death in Iraq last August, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan appointed Bertrand Ramcharan to serve as my co-chair, and in November 2003 the Carter Center brought together leaders of human rights and democracy movements from 41 nations.
We learned from these nonviolent activists that U.S. policies are giving license to abusive governments and even established democracies to stamp out legitimate dissent and reverse decades of progress toward freedom, with many leaders retreating from previous human rights commitments. Lawyers, professors, doctors and journalists told of being labeled as terrorists, often for merely criticizing a government policy or carrying out their daily work. Equally disturbing are reports that in some countries the U.S. government has pushed regressive counterterrorism laws, based on the USA Patriot Act, that undermine democratic principles and the rule of law. Some American policies are being challenged by Congress and the federal courts, but the reversal of such troubling policies is unlikely in countries where legislative and judicial checks and balances are not well developed.
In the interests of security and freedom, basic reforms are needed in the United States and elsewhere, including restrictions on governments' excessive surveillance powers; reassertion of the public's right to information; judicial and legislative review of detentions and other executive functions; and strict compliance with international standards of law and justice.
The United States must regain its status as the champion of freedom and human rights.