American Proscenium

Secretary Clinton's Human—Rights Scorecard

In late August, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued the Obama administration’s first Universal Periodic Review (UPR) to the U.N. high commissioner for human rights.  The purpose of the UPR is to give the United Nations “a partial snapshot of the current human rights situation in the United States, including some of the areas where problems persist in our society.”

Secretary Clinton’s report explains that, to Americans, human rights are dear because “they were the reason our nation was created.”  She insists that rights enshrined in the Constitution are universal in application.  It does not matter whether a people has no historical experience with private property, voting, or freedom of expression.  These “universal rights” should be applied to all peoples in every corner of the globe.

Although Secretary Clinton’s history lesson and examination of rights are interesting, the real attention grabbers are the American infractions chronicled in the report.  Citing FDR’s 1941 “Four Freedoms” speech, she notes that Americans are not free from want and that current unemployment rates have human-rights implications that must be disclosed to the United Nations.  The report observes that unemployment rates for Hispanics and blacks are several points higher than the rates for whites.  Consequently, the United States must continue “to...

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