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As Mr. Posner stated, the Carter administration relied on it with as much inconsistency, I might add, as President Reagan's administration. One of the greatest disservices to our conduct of foreign affairs, I believe, is performed by our Ambassador to the United Nations. Ambassador Kirkpatrick makes speeches everywhere saying that communism is the greatest violation of human rights and we, therefore, cannot do anything that-I am not quoting her exactly, but the thrust of the message is that we cannot do anything to undermine governments or to put pressures on governments that are violating human rights because they might be supplanted by Communist governments which violate human rights even more.
The point I was trying to make earlier, that the violation of human rights has to be treated as a legal norm, and applies as much to non-Communist as to Communist governments. I suggest that Ambassador Kirkpatrick is not correct in the way she would treat the problem.
We deal with Communist governments all the time, the ones in Eastern Europe, the one in China and so on. As I observed before we were able to get Romania to comply with its obligations to allow people to emigrate. We know that within the Eastern European countries there are different gradations of treatment.
There is somewhat more freedom in Hungary than there is in Poland, than there is in the Soviet Union. In our dealings even with Communist countries we can do things to ameliorate their mistreatment of the people. The underlying point I would like to make is that by opposing efforts to encourage respect for human rights in countries which suppress them in the name of fighting anticommunism, what can happen is those countries may become Communist because of the very violations of the rights of the people.
Our argument for human rights, in a word, is that it is a way to preserve the democratic society, not a way to bring about communism. I think that this is demonstrated in El Salvador. I think that if you were to abdicate to the military solution and the suppression of the rights of people in El Salvador and allow them to prevail without having some democratic accommodation, that would be the surest way to bring a reaction subsequently, thereby perhaps having a Communist society.
Mr. YATRON. Thank you very much.
Ms. LABER. One of the ironic things that has happened with the Reagan administration is that despite its efforts to downplay human rights because the issue was politically associated with the Carter administration, human rights have become much more of an issue in this administration than it was during the Carter administration.
As Mike Posner pointed out, quiet diplomacy was pursued by the Carter administration as well as the Reagan administration. Making allowances for strategic allies was something that the Carter administration did, as the Reagan administration has done; in other words, both administrations have continued to give aid to countries that violate human rights because they are of strategic importance to us.
The difference is, as Mr. Carliner pointed out, that we have a theoretician working with the Reagan administration, which has led to a very unfortunate policy decision. Distinguishing between totalitarian and authoritarianism regimes, may have a place in the history classroom, but I do not think it has much place in the making of foreign policy.
I think that the Reagan administration, in dealing with "friendly" countries, has tended to try to bend the facts to conform with policies instead of coming out and saying:
Look, we have to keep a military base in this country. We know they violate human rights, but at the same time cur own strategic situation makes it imperative that we continue to give military assistance here. It has to be done.
President Carter did this in certain cases and this policy may have evolved well had his administration continued. The Reagan administration has often found itself caught in its own trap by trying to say that a country is "good," or is making progress and therefore the United States can continue giving military aid, instead of stating the facts as they are and making, if necessary, a pragmatic decision.
Mr. YATRON. I want to thank all of you for your excellent statements, for giving us the benefit of your views and appearing here before the subcommittee today.
Will the second panel please take your seats? We are certainly pleased to have as our next witnesses Mr. Raymond Gastil, director of the Comparative Survey of Freedom, Freedom House; Rev. Joe Eldridge, director, Washington office on Latin America; and Mr. Penn Kemble, member of the executive committee, Institute for Religion and Democracy.
Gentlemen, thank you for being here. We will begin with Mr. Gastil. I realize we are running out of time here, so if you can condense your statements they will certainly be included in their entirety in the record.
Mr. Gastil, would you like to begin, sir?
STATEMENT OF RAYMOND D. GASTIL, DIRECTOR OF THE
Mr. GASTIL. Since 1972, I have continuously monitored, in a very general way, the state of freedom in the world for Freedom House. In this work I have found the country reports of great use. It is my impression that the reports have improved in usefulness and comprehensiveness with each year and I hope this continues to be the
It is quite a steady improvement. The reports remain, of course, far from perfect. There are many reasons for that. I do not think I will go into that further.
There are examples one might give of this and I would particularly mention the tone which frequently, for understandable reasons, downplays obvious problems in many countries of the world. I do not mean just the most important ones that we usually talk about-Chile, Argentina, and so forth, but many of the small places such as Malta, Sri Lanka, and so on.
Turning from the specifics of the country reports, I find the introduction again excellent. It points out the connections of human
rights efforts to the American tradition and the way the development of human rights is threatened by the development of Soviet power.
Certainly to the degree that the Soviet power or the Marxist-Leninist model of governments is expanded in the world, to that degree, hope for the expansion of individual or group rights against the State must be indefinitely postponed. Such an extension also threatens the preservation of such rights in the established democracies.
The introduction also points to the importance of looking behind day-to-day events to consider the institutions that support or fail to support human rights. Without understanding the institutional and the cultural context, the too rapid or undisciplined attempt to achieve a full spectrum of human rights may lead to creation of even worse conditions or institutions.
This was, for example, the result of the Iranian revolution. It may well be the result of the overthrow of Somoza. Certainly it already has had this result for several groups in that society. The introduction points out how President Reagan's attempt to promote democracy fits in with the goals of any human rights policy, because it emphasizes long-term institutional developments rather than negative criticisms.
However, one general objection needs to be made that carries beyond the introduction to the report as a whole. Some years ago we questioned before the subcommittee the value of mixing economic progress considerations into the evaluation of a country's human rights performance. We pointed out how countries like Cuba and South Korea, with good development records, were given a false appearance of being less suppressive when country reports incorporated socioeconomic factors.
Improving levels of nutrition, health and so on are important, but they do not make torture, imprisonment, or denials of political equality any less oppressive. They also do not speak to the level of government performance that most people, including most human rights advocates, actually have in mind when they speak of human rights.
Subsequent to our remarks, but obviously not due to them, this approach was corrected. Instead of placing the discussions of the rights to vital needs between respect for the person and civil and political rights, each country report now has a discussion at the end on the economic, social, and cultural situation.
As this introduction points out, the right to development is not a right in the same sense as political and civil rights or the right of a person to his life. One of the reasons development is not a right in the same sense is that political and civil rights are claims against the arbitrary power of the State. They are expressions of the control of the citizenry over the State. What the State does with that control is ultimately up to the citizens, to have a right to decide, and this is a right outsiders should be very reluctant to constrain. The people of every country have a right to decide on slow development, or indeed on no development at all.
With these considerations in mind, it appears in retrospect to have been a mistake for the Reagan administration to depart from the previous policy of seeing human rights violations only as viola
tions by government of the rights of its citizens. The reports now purport to include violations by opposition groups alongside violations by the government. This introduces an element of confusion analogous to that previously introduced by the vital needs discussion of the reports in the 1970's.
In analogy with the rights to food, employment, and so forth that the earlier reports considered, we might think of a right to be protected that the existence of terrorism suggests is not being respected in the society in question. If so, then the report should provide the reader with information of levels of violent crime. This would mean that by comparison the U.S. record would not look so good. Certainly violent crime is an important subject, but it is a different subject. It is a subject about which each people should decide, and not one to be judged by theoretically universal overseers, as is implied by the concept of universal human rights.
Actually, it appears that terrorism is introduced in the reports partly in order to give the reader perspective on why certain governments are at times restrictive and oppressive. It is assumed that we will condemn them less if we understand their problems. Everyone can agree that such understanding is necessary, although it can be carried too far. But if understanding is the objective, then terrorism should be treated at the end of each report as a part of the context, as a part of what is labeled the economic, social, and cultural situation.
The stated reason the present administration wishes to emphasize terrorism is that human rights are not threatened only by governments. There are also private terrorists and internationally financed and trained terrorists that threaten the integrity of the person and reduce the expression of political and civil rights.
This is an important issue, but it is an international problem which can be best dealt with, it seems to me, by an appended special discussion of this issue, with specifics as to the extent, type and origin of such diminutions of rights.
When all is said, however, the country reports represent a significant and continuous commitment of the American Government to human rights. The present administration's policy has been to advance human rights through quiet diplomacy rather than through public criticism. Many in the human rights community believe that the result has been less of both quiet diplomacy and public criticism. Whatever the case, the country reports continue to provide the record of what our Government thinks of the human rights situation in every country and provides a report on the human rights of each country that can be pointed to by friend and foe alike.
Reports on friendly countries, such as South Africa or Chile, may not have the condemnatory tone that human rights advocates would prefer and this often is certainly justified. Yet, generally, the facts of the question are presented clearly and in considerable detail. It is interesting to note that there are more pages devoted to South Africa than to the U.S.S.R., more on the Philippines than on Vietnam, more on Guatemala than on Nicaragua.
In spite of the fact that some of this reporting on friendly countries has an apologetic quality, by and large it does represent an official acknowledgment of the abuses that exist. The country re
ports are themselves both a quiet protest and a public protest against the repressions of many countries, left and right, and they provide one basis for U.S. policy. As long as they are produced, no government can ignore them.
[Mr. Gastril's prepared statement follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF RAYMOND D. GASTIL, DIRECTOR, COMPARATIVE SURVEY OF FREEDOM, FREEDOM HOUSE
Comments on the U.S. State Department's "Country Reports
on Human Rights Practices for 1982"
Freedom House was founded in 1941 for the purpose of supporting both internally and internationally the cause of freedom. In 1972 I developed for Freedom House a Comparative Survey of Freedom that continuously monitors in a very general way the state of freedom in the countries of the world. Later when the State Department began publishing the Country Reports we found them of great value in our work. This has been particularly true for the smaller countries about which information is often scarce. It is my impression that the Reports have been improved in usefulness and comprehensiveness with each year, and hope this continues
to be the case.