Respect for Human Rights Brings Prosperity, Security, Rice Says
By Kathryn McConnell
IIP Staff Writer
06 December 2013
Countries that respect the rights of all citizens are more just, prosperous and secure, U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice said at a Washington meeting of human rights activists, policymakers, and military and business leaders.
At the Human Rights First Summit on December 4, Rice said the greatest threats to national security “often emerge from countries with the worst human rights records.”
She said that when President Obama travels, he tries to help government leaders understand that “protecting the rights of their people is ultimately in their self-interest.”
Rice stressed that the United States leads in promoting a global human rights agenda for the 21st century beginning with efforts to protect and empower women and girls. “No society can reach its full potential when half its people are held back,” Rice said, adding that the United States helps countries around the world learn to elevate the status of women through such means as constitutional protections and extending benefits to women-owned businesses.
Rice said the United States also helps emergency responders learn to protect women and girls from rape as soon as conflicts or disasters occur, and is launching a high-level task force to coordinate efforts to combat violence against women and girls. Gender-based violence, she said, “is an affront to human dignity” and threatens public health, economic stability and national security.
Rice said the United States supports equal treatment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, defends the freedom of all people to worship as they choose and champions open government, freedom of assembly and a free press.
The United States also promotes Internet freedom while guarding against threats from those who would use new technologies for harm, she said. To help strengthen its capacity to respond to a mass atrocity, the United States is developing tools and partnerships to provide warning before violence ignites, she added.The United States allocates significant resources to aid programs that foster human rights, the rule of law and good governance, Rice said. She said U.S. officials engage with civil society in other nations to demonstrate support and to hear what is happening in local communities. Through its Open Government Partnership, the United States helps develop and share with other countries best practices to make their governments more open, accountable and responsive to citizens, she added.
The United States also uses “the unmatched strength of our economy” to apply financial pressure, including sanctions, on countries that violate human rights, and leverages its military aid and other support to encourage countries to live up to their international commitments to support rights, Rice said.
Under Obama, the United States joined the United Nations Human Rights Council and made it more effective in shedding light on human rights abuses, Rice said. Further, the United States works cooperatively with the International Criminal Court to foster accountability for the worst crimes and to help bring peaceful change to countries in conflict, she said.
Rice noted that in December 1948, representatives at the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a worldwide recognition that all people are born possessing certain equal and inalienable rights.
“For the sake of our common humanity and our shared future … we keep striving each day to build a world that is more just, more equal, more safe and more free,” she said.