Human rights and U.S. foreign policy, the first decade : 1973-1983

The government of the United States, uniquely among major nations, is committed through historical tradition, Congressional legislation and Presidential pronouncement to the defense of international human rights.

This policy—pursued fitfully, uncertainly and on occasion even disparaged—exemplifies a set of principles enunciated originally by the Founding Fathers. Traditionally, the pattern for American foreign policy initiatives has been set by the Presidency, and implemented by the Department of State after Congressional deliberation.

Significantly, however, it was the force of legislative directives that provided the essential stimulus to establish human rights objectives as an explicit factor in this country’s relationships with other nations. The application of this policy has provoked recurrent and still inconclusive public discussion on the essential nature, purposes and modalities of American foreign relations.

This report was published by the American Association for the ICJ. It was written by David Heaps, after consultation with members of the Association’s Board of Directors and the Secretary-General of the ICJ.

US-human rights and foreign policy-thematic report-1983eng (full text in English, PDF)

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