Imagini ale paginilor

rural telephone development, representatives of the Treasury and State Departments tried to convince the Banking Subcommittee that this loan met the "basic human needs" exception in Section 701 (f) of the IFI Act. During hearings in December 1981 Congressman Jerry Patterson advised Administration representatives that

a vote in favor of this loan would violate the act. The Administration held steadfast to its position that sufficient improvements in human rights had been made despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary provided by numerous organizations including Amnesty International and the Washington Office on Latin America. The loan was approved, however, after a compromise was worked out among the branches of government. I raise this example, Mr. Chairman, because the tactics used to approve this loan illustrate how the Reagan Administration persists in its concern with political gestures rather than with observance of the law.

Failure to employ the negative responses within this Administration's repertoire in those instances has sent very loud signals abroad. Unfortunately, there have been many other symbolic gestures used by this Administration which also have sent the wrong message such as inviting South Korean President Chun Doo Han to be the first foreign guest to the White House, Vice President Bush's praise of the Philippine tradition of democracy, Defense Secretary Weinberger's praise of the Government of Turkey, and more recently, President Reagan's sympathies over Guatemalan President Rios Montt's "bum rap" but these are actions beyond Congressional control if not disapproval.

I would just like to say a brief word about the second track of this Administration's policy, taking positive steps to build and strengthen democracy, before completing my review of the record. The U.S. has a tremendous stake in seeing democratic governments take root and prosper in Central America. Initiatives to foster the development of democracy in El Salvador which respect the sovereignty of the nation and the will of the El Salvadoran people are to be encouraged. However, the question must be asked, what is the U.S. doing to promote democracy in Chile? or in South Korea? The current president of South Korea took control of that country by military power and has promised elections in 1988 and then only if stability has been achieved. In the meantime, institutions essential for free elections, namely freedom of the press and freedom of association, have been seriously curtailed. The U.S. should encourage the growth of democratic institutions in South Korea as well to assure free and fair elections prior to the promised end of an eight year dictatorial rule.

Mr. Chairman, even though this Administration has stated that human rights is still on the agenda and, as noted above, has taken some positive steps, in general, I would have to conclude that the Reagan Administration has failed to convince anyone that it is seriously concerned about human rights. There are several reasons for this. From the outset, it was apparent that a political decision had been made for this Administration to distance itself from its predecessor and from all its policies in particular the human rights policy which President

Reagan perceived as one of that Administration's great failures. Although later, this decision was reversed and Mr. Abrams was nominated to head the Bureau of Human Rights, one still senses a distance, an ambivalence about a human rights policy.

Secondly, and more important, the human rights policy of this Administration is based on ideology rather than law. Communism is seen as the worst human rights violation and to prevent that, other abuses will be endured. No one can deny that communism as practiced by the Soviet Union violates basic human rights; the U.S. should assist any legitimate government defending itself from a communist takeover. However, if repression of fundamental rights cannot be tolerated even prospectively, the U.S. certainly cannot befriend and aid a government which tortures, detains and summarily executes its people today. This is obvious and Congress has enacted laws to prevent that conduct of foreign policy.

I have already referred to examples where U.S. statutes which mandate aid cutoffs or negative votes in the multilateral banks have been ignored. What is equally disturbing is this Administration's complete resistance to recognizing those international norms which are really the legitimate basis of our concern or any government's concern about human rights in another country. Rarely does a spokesman for this Administration invoke the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in voicing concern about human rights abuses. Rarely can one find in official statements mention of any of the international declarations or treaties which form the legal foundation of international concern

and action.

A human rights policy not based on international law leaves room for criticism as interventionism or a new brand of American imperialism.

Without a clear understanding that international human rights law imposes obligations on governments to respect the rights of their people, it is easy to apply those norms incorrectly to other groups which, although their actions may be reprehensible, are not to be held legally responsible. Finally, U.S. avoidance of these international norms undermines their widespread acceptance and implementation.


Of course, an obvious reason why the U.S. omits references to these international human rights instruments is because the U.S. has not yet ratified the major human rights treaties. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was signed in 1948 and sent to the Senate for its advice and consent by President Truman. There is no reason for the U.S. not to ratify this treaty as every possible objection to it

legal and political

has been removed.

It is also inexcusable that after two and one-half years, this Administration still has not formulated its policy with regard to the four human rights treaties which President Carter sent to the Senate in 1977. The Reagan Administration could enhance the credibility of its own claims of concern and significantly promote respect for human rights around the world by placing its support behind these agreements. Since we have not made a formal commitment to the principles they enshrine, we have begun to lose face in international forms where our call for human rights sounds increasingly hollow and policitally


One important sidelight of not being familiar with the

international human rights agreements and not being in a position to invoke them with a great deal of credibility, is that the U.S. has not been able to use their mantle to protect Americans abroad. As you know, Mr. Chairman, international human rights agreements protect every person within the territory of a state regardless of nationality or citizenship. Thus, an American arrested in Austria must be accorded the rights under the European Convention of Human Rights; an American in Peru must be granted rights under the American Convention on Human Rights. These treaties and other declarations to which various countries are party often provide broader protection than local law, and offer U.S. consulates another significant means of protecting the rights of Americans abroad. U.S. embassy and consulate personnel should be required to know how the human rights instruments can protect Americans travelling or residing in each particular country.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to say a word about U.S. participation in the UN Commission on Human Rights. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick criticized the work of this Commission in her testimony before a joint session of the Subcommittees on Human Rights and International Organizations and International Operations on March 10, 1983. She found the Commission's performance disappointing and its nemesis to be the double standard which allows the worst violators to be ignored. Although Ambassador Schifter has made many fine interventions and taken some courageous stands, I must say that the U.S. in

« ÎnapoiContinuă »