Continuity and Change in U.S. Human Rights Policy

U.S. presidents and their aides increasingly had to evaluate human rights considerations in making decisions about foreign assistance, rhetorical support or condemnation, or more forceful actions such as military intervention. Yet, perhaps not surprisingly, the U.S. government rarely prioritized human rights unless doing so aligned with other policy objectives.

Lecture Description

Throughout its history, the U.S. government has been largely consistent in minimizing attention to human rights concerns in its policy formulation. The two exceptions to this low level interest have come when championing human rights aligned with the government’s existing foreign priorities or when nongovernmental activists successfully pressured branches of the U.S. government to take human rights violations into greater account. The talk analyzes six distinct periods of U.S. attention to human rights since 1945 and reveals the means by which activists can shape government policy.


Human Rights Post-1945

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