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were three examples of peaceful change in which a ruling military government voluntarily gave up power to a duly elected civilian government.
In Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa held elections in July and August, and a new government under President Sharagi was sworn in October. The Nigerian military has consistently supported not only the transition to civilian rule, but also the efforts described earlier to establish regional insti. tutions in Africa for the protection of human rights.
In Ghana, on June 4th of this year a coup of junior officers and enlisted men overthrew the ruling military government which had held power since 1972. Elections for president and a 140 seat parliament were held in July and power was transferred to elected civilians at the end of September.
And in Upper Volta, elections for President and Legislature were held last year under a new constitution. Human rights problems in Africa
All of the advances, all of the progress described above call for optimism. But the optimism must be guarded for a number of reasons. First, changes have not all been in a positive direction. There are a number of countries where human rights conditions remain grave or have worsened over the past few years. Second, most African countries have known independence for only two decades or so. Democratic institutions and respect for the rule of law require time to establish deep roots. We, therefore, may anticipate some set-backs where progress has been made.
Third, white minority rule and the system of Apartheid continue to pose a great threat to peace and stability in Africa, particularly over the long-run, A policy which allocates 87 percent of the land to 16 percent of the population cannot endure forever. Change will ultimately come to South Africa. But if the West persists in its position against apartheid and in favor of majority rule, the change may come about more peacefully and with a lesser risk of regional instability.
Finally, long-run progress towards solving human rights problems will depend on improved economic performance. And Africa's need for aid is enormous. The World Bank estimates that real per capita growth will be less than 18 pe cent in Africa in 1980s. And per capita food production is declining by 10 percent annually. Or, as one example, take Zaire where it is estimated that perhaps as many as one-half the children die before the age of five from malnutrition and malnutrition related causes and that most families are eating only one meal per day.
Economic development needs to be at the forefront of our foreign policy goals for Africa. It is inextricably connected with our human rights objectives. Implementation of the human rights policy and its importance for other U.S.
interests in Africa Mr. Chairmen, we have used a range of instruments to implement the human rights policy. Our preferred method involves private communications from one government to another. We have made human rights a regular part of our diplomatic agenda with all countries with which we have relations. Where countries have good records, we encourage their practices and invite their support for our efforts. In the case of governments which seriously restrict the rights of their citizens, we express concern over specific abuses. We emphasize, in addition, the high priority which the Congress and the American people attach to human rights concerns.
Second, we underline those government-to-government discussion with other acts such as meetings with opposition political figures or with victims of human rights abuses.
A third instrument involves U.S. programs of economic aid and security assistance. We have sought to ensure that human rights considerations are reflected in such programs in accordance with the statutory criteria enacted by the Congress.
Fourth, in the Mutilaterial Development Banks, we take into account human rights concerns. We are instructed by the Congress not to vote for projects for a country the government of which is engaged “in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights” unless the project meets basic human needs. We have opposed 10 loans to four African countries under those standards.
I would like to discuss one final issue: the contribution of the human rights policy to other U.S. interests in Africa.
Africa is important to the United States for many reasons. Last year, the U.S. exported $3.4 billion in goods annually, and this total is expected to grow appreciably during the 1980s. Africa is also the source of many important raw materials, including 20 percent of imported oil, and a majority of our diamonds, cobalt, platinum, and other critical minerals. The forty-seven sub-Saharan African countries play an important role in world diplomacy and at international councils.
A few months ago, Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Richard Moose said, “Our relations with Africa today are better than they have been in years”. I agree with that assessment. And I believe that the progress made is partly attributable to our own renewed emphasis on human rights, which has identified the U.S. with African aspirations for justice.
Africa today is marked by constant change. Rapid urbanization, the shocks of higher energy prices, unstable commodity markets and political upheavals are affecting peoples throughout the continent.
In this environment, it is a profound mistake to confuse rigid adherance to the status quo with genuine stability. The world is changing too rapidly for that. The consequence of the human rights policy in a changing world is to support those with legitimate aspirations who seek change in a moderate, reasonable, and peaceful fashion. When these aspirations are ignored, they ferment and fester. The result may be violent change and political instability which is inimical to our national interest.
The human rights policy also helps insure friendly relations with other countries over the long-run. If we ignore oppression, we may obtain cl »ser relations with a particular regime for a short period of time. But there is a significant risk that its successor will be hostile to our interests.
As we look back over the past two years of human rights diplomacy, there is much in the way of tangible progress to which one can point. We do not claim credit for the many positive steps taken, for when they occur it is the result of decisions taken by the people and governments concerned. But we believe that we have contributed to an atmosphere that makes such decisions more likely.
What is particularly impressive is the degree to which our expression of human rights concerns has struck a responsive chord throughout Africa. It is often easy to lose sight in Washington of the geometric increase in human rights awareness and the contribution this makes to our national interest.
Our influence in the world depends, of course, on our military and economic power. But influence is also a function of moral authority. There is ample evidence of this fact in the response to Pope John Paul II during his recent travels. The human rights policy of the United States is in the final analysis critical to our moral authority, and thereby, the exercise of American influence in Africa and the world.
Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you for this opportunity. I would be happy now to try to answer any questions.
Mr. BONKER. Thank you, Mr. Cohen, both for the brevity of your statement, and the substance of it. I really think that what is happening in Africa today as it relates to human rights is impressive. You mention a few of the initiatives, the establishment of this PanAfrican body for the protection of human rights, and the resolution which was adopted at the Monrovia session of the OAU that would organize or at least set up the framework for establishing standards and monitoring of human rights conditions.
The seven prominent African jurists which you refer to were also here on Capitol Hill, and we met with them. It is fairly impressive to see their commitment to working on human rights conditions throughout Africa and the Monrovia meeting to discuss the creation of a regional human rights commission. All of these things I think represent what you aptly refer to as raising the consciousness, and it would really be exciting to see similar initiatives in other parts of the world, such as Latin America and Southeast Asia. I think ultimately therein lies the best means for confronting this serious world problem.
Let me just go through a few things in your statement to begin with.
On page 4, you refer to raw material in the preparation of the State Department's report on human rights conditions and that your objective is to assemble raw material. Can you be a little more specific? In certain cases "raw material” might be evidence of torture and deaths and so forth but what did you have in mind in this use of the phrase?
Mr. Cohen. I think the best way is to go through each of the three major categories of internationally recognized human rights. First in the case of the integrity of the person, the raw material would be reports of torture, reports of summary execution.
Mr. BONKER. So that the raw material would not be evidence but reports ?
Mr. Cohen. It would be reports which are, I think, evidence which we would then try to evaluate.
Mr. BONKER. All right.
Mr. Cohen. In the case of political and civil rights, it would be reports of the degree to which citizens are free to participate in the political process, reports about the degree to which media are free to criticize the Government, reports on what happens to media which criticize the Government. In the area of economic and social needs, the raw material would be reports of medical care, housing, food, and so forth.
Mr. BONKER. Or pages 4 and 5 you outline the process by which these reports are reviewed and evaluated through various agencies, and then you end by saying that "The agreed draft is then reviewed by the NSC and by the Office of the Deputy Secretary.” Throughout the review process is there any glossing over, deleting, excluding, exempting or whatever, of some of the raw material or other reports that are being compiled because the evidence would be inconsistent with our foreign policy objectives?
Mr. COHEN. As you can imagine the process of writing the reports can on occasion become contentious and the subject of dispute. When we have these disagreements they are at least voiced in terms of honest disagreements over the reliability and the quality of raw material.
Mr. BONKER. I am not talking about the reliability and quality, I am talking about whether during the preparation of a report where the violation is so obvious, that it comes into contradiction of a foreign policy objective. For instance, in Iran or any other country, have there been instances where the NSC or other high ranking officials have deleted or so reworked a part of the report as to make it more consistent with foreign policy objectives?
Mr. Cohen. Let me try to answer that question as honestly as I can. There is no doubt that there are pressures in the reporting process to take into account the effect of particularly critical information on U.S. interests and U.S. bilateral relations. There is no doubt that these pressures exist. I would not deny that there are understandable pressures at times to avoid including in the reports something that is particularly critical. But I don't think the debate is ever phrased in those terms.
When we debate the issue of whether certain critical information should be included it occurs in terms of the accuracy and reliability of the raw material. That's how the debate takes place at least at a rhetorical level.
The job of the Human Rights Office is to see that the integrity of the reporting process is preserved and we view that as our mission, as our goal.
Mr. BONKER. I thought all the rhetorical debate was in the Congress, but you say there is some in the executive branch as well?
Mr. COHEN. Probably more.
Mr. Cohen. I spent about 612 days in Kinshasa and 3 days in Lubumbashi.
Mr. SOLARZ. What were your impressions about the status of human rights in that country?
Mr. COHEN. Well, there is no doubt that human rights conditions in Zaire are very grave. The most critical human rights problems in Zaire at this point in time are economic. It is estimated that in the cities per: haps as many as one-half of the children die before the age of 5 from malnutrition and malnutrition-related causes. In addition it appears that the overwhelming majority of the people in the cities are eating at best one meal a day. The International Monetary Fund has proposed a stabilization plan for Zaire. The consensus of opinion seems to be that, over the short run, if the stabilization plan is adhered to, there will be some significant worsening in both infant mortality and general malnutrition of the population.
Now the economic problems are, of course, aggravated by corruption which is pervasive through the Zairian Government. One particular problem is the leakage of foreign exchange which deprives the country of resources that might be put to better use.
In addition to the overall economic problems, one of the more serious problems is abuses committed by the military. As a general rule the soldiers are paid only haphazardly. They support themselves by preying on the civilian population.
Another problem is independence of the judiciary. About 1 or 112 years ago the executive branch acquired the power to demote, hire, and promote judges at will. In addition, there is no real freedom to participate in the political process in Zaire, and there is certainly nothing like a free press.
Mr. SOLARZ. Are the people who are concerned about the human rights situation in Zaire under the impression, based on your conversations with them, that American aid, both economic and military, is productive or counterproductive in terms of the effort to help improve the human rights situation in that country? In other words, do they feel that our economic and military assistance contributes toward an improvement in the human rights situation or that it strengthens the ability of the regime to repress human rights?
Mr. COHEN. Well, it is very hard to talk about public opinion in Zaire.
Mr. Solarz. I gather you spoke with a broad range of people and presumably some of the people you spoke to expressed their concern about the human rights situation.
Mr. COHEN. Let me try to explain to you what educated opinion is and then go at it from a little bit different direction. There is no question that at least among educated Zairians there is a sense that the country is in very bad shape. Life is very hard for most people, it is getting harder, and at the present time they do not have a great deal of confidence in the ability of the government to make improvements.
In their minds the current government is supported by the West. There is therefore a tendency to blame the West or the United States for their problems, because of Western support for the government which they feel is not serious about meeting their needs. Now I did on occasion hear positive comments about particular American assistance projects and we could go into that if you would like.
Mr. SOLARZ. Well, let me backtrack for a second. In your statement you referred to Soviet military aid as enhancing the ability of Amiri and Macias to carry out repression. Does our military aid contribute in any way to the repression of human rights in Zaire? Is our military equipment used in efforts to suppress human rights?
Mr. COHEN. At the present time we are telling the Zairian Government that continuation of military aid depends on their making reforms in the military. We are thus using the military aid that we provide—which is now not a large amount—to say to them "you must make reforms."
Because the whole army is a major problem it is difficult to know where to begin reforms. You really have to reconstruct or recycle the entire Zairian Army. A beginning has been made with the 21st Brigade which is being retrained by Belgians. It is a very small proportion of the entire army and it is stationed in Lubumbashi. The Belgians have taken special efforts to make sure that the soldiers in the 21st Brigade are paid regularly. We have supported these efforts. The 21st Brigade had been in place for 3142 months when I was in Lubumbashi. Up to that point they had been paid regularly and they apparently had not been preying on the civilian population. Whether that will endure and continue is something we don't know yet. We will have to watch it carefully.
So that is an example, I think, of how we are trying to encourage military reforms. No one knows for sure how it will work out over the long run, but we have told Zaire that this kind of thing that has been done with the 21st Brigade has to continue if military aid from the United States is going to continue.
Mr. Solarz. In your testimony you said while there had been a number of significant advances in the human rights areas in Africa, there were also some setbacks in a number of countries—the human rights situation had grown worse rather than better. Which countries ?
Mr. Conex. I didn't come in with a prepared list of that and what I would like to do is supply that for the record if I could.
Mr. Solarz. Well, we don't want to abuse your human rights by forcing the answer out of you in a public hearing by committee torture but that is using a pretty broad brush in saying things have gotten worse without being prepared to back that up with specific examples. Are you in fact sure there are countries where it has gotten worse? There may be countries where it was bad to begin with and it continues to be bad but that does not necessarily mean it has gotten worse. Are you sure it has gotten worse or do you want to check that?