Columbia International Affairs Online: Course Packs and Syllabi

Human Rights and International Law

US foreign policy and human rights: The price of principles after the Cold War
David P. Forsythe
from Human Rights and Comparative Foreign Policy: Foundations of Peace, David P. Forsythe, ed.
United Nations University


The United States, like virtually all other states, has constructed a positive self-image. This self-image centres on defence of personal freedom, understood as civil and political rights. The notion of the United States as symbol of individual civil and political rights, an idea not without some relative and historical validity, has been problematic enough in a domestic context — given such historical facts as slavery and racial segregation, racist immigration laws, anti-Semitism, and gender discrimination, inter alia. But the question of whether the United States should champion civil and political rights through an activist foreign policy has been much more problematical, giving rise to considerable debate since the founding of the Republic. Moreover, the United States mostly rejects any necessary relationship between socio-economic rights and the classical civil and political rights so central to Western liberal philosophy — aside from a commitment to the economic (civil?) right to private property. After the Cold War, the United States has continued to identify with leadership for civil and political rights in world affairs. But it has not always, or even very often, been willing to pay even a moderate price, in either blood or treasure, to see these rights implemented in foreign countries — as seems true for other democracies as well. It has also continued to reject a clear, consistent, and meaningful endorsement of most socio-economic rights. The United States, although making some positive contributions to the advancement of internationally recognized human rights through its foreign policy, still struggles to institutionalize attention to human rights abroad, especially as defined in the International Bill of Rights, and especially when even moderate costs are entailed.

I. Introduction

Rare is the ruling elite that does not manipulate national opinion to produce a positive self-image. The United States is no exception to this generalization. The United States sees itself as standing above all for personal freedom. In this view the American revolution from 1776 and especially its Constitution from 1787 represented the broadest and most practical endorsement of individual human rights then known to political man. Given the subsequent cultural, economic, and political accomplishments of the United States, most Americans accept the view that the country represents a shining city on a hill, a beacon to all others; in this view the United States has much to teach others about the proper conduct of public affairs. 1 That other countries like France make similar claims to being a universal model for human rights with a mission civilitrice has not diminished the United States' sense of itself as positively unique. The core conception of what it means to be American entails allegiance to the US Constitution and the personal freedoms entailed in that document and its Bill of Rights. 2 Thus dominant American political culture is inseparable from a conception of human rights within a rule of law. The notion of civil and political rights is intrinsic to US political history.

Obvious defects in American society have done little to undermine the dominant view that the United States stands for personal freedom and has constructed an admirable society based on this principle. Systematic and legally approved discrimination against racial minorities, women, and certain foreign nationalities trying to immigrate to the United States has not undermined an American informal ideology that sees the country as representing equal freedom and opportunity for all. Part of this amorphous ideology holds that, if an individual is assertive and works hard, individual freedom will produce material good things. Thus there is little need for socio-economic rights, such as the right to publicly provided national health care. 3 Dominant American opinion is not very sympathetic to the idea that there can be too much personal freedom, so that those with power and wealth exploit those without. The presence in the United States of inner cities and rural areas with a poor quality of life is mostly attributed to the deficiencies of the inhabitants, not to any failings of the society or the political—legal system as a whole. The alleged lack of an American sense of community, by comparison with countries such as Canada, is not given much attention and is certainly not attributed to an excessive commitment to individualism. 4 Criticisms of American individualism from various foreign parties, whether Canadian, West European, or Asian, inter alia, have yet to make notable inroads on traditional thinking. After the Cold War the Democratic Party joined the Republican Party in reducing welfare benefits for the poor and vulnerable, while emphasizing the individual work ethic and the need to grow the economy through governmental support for the business sector. The Reagan revolution persists, entailing an emphasis on individual freedom and competition — and American greatness. At the 1997 Denver summit of the seven largest industrialized democracies, plus Russia, President Clinton trumpeted this belief in the superiority of the American example, to the obvious reserve of the other participants.

Despite this self-image of leadership for human rights, it is by no means clear that the United States is easily given to moral crusades for personal freedom abroad in actual policy. It is true that distinguished analysts such as George Kennan and John Spanier have identified a moral strain in American rhetoric about foreign policy, such as Woodrow Wilson's "crusade" to make the world safe for democracy after the First World War. 5 But the noted historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. has shown that from the beginning of the Republic there has been debate about whether it should have an activist foreign policy in behalf of individual freedom abroad, or should lead by the more introverted model of constructing the good society at home. 6 A few examples suffice to make the point historically. The United States did not actively support various democratic movements abroad, as in 1848, and was one of the last states of the Western world to abandon slavery at home and then oppose it elsewhere. Neither in 1914 nor in 1939 did the United States rush to defend its democratic partners in Europe, but rather clung to a commercially inspired neutrality until attacks on its shipping and military installations, respectively, brought it into the two world wars. During the Cold War the United States undermined a number of elected governments and engaged in other anti-humanitarian interventions in order to increase its power vis-à-vis the Soviet Union. 7 Although some authors feared that increased rhetoric in behalf of human rights during the 1970s would lead to a moral crusade in US foreign policy, 8 the overall evidence strongly suggests that US concrete support for human rights abroad is a matter to be demonstrated rather than assumed. 9 The United States, like other states with a relatively serious (but far from perfect) commitment to certain human rights at home, may sometimes not be inclined toward a rights-supportive foreign policy — as French policy toward various contemporary African states so clearly demonstrates. 10

II. Domestic factors

A variety of domestic factors in the United States combined after the Cold War to ensure some attention to human rights in foreign policy, but also to ensure that the government did not pay a high price to see those principles advanced in world affairs.

President Bush spoke of a "new world order" with increased attention to international law and human rights, 11 and President Clinton spoke of enlarging the global democratic community as one of the pillars of his foreign policy. 12 This was to be expected. Since the Nixon—Kissinger years (1969-1976), all Presidents have paid lip-service to advancing international human rights as part of a moral dimension to US foreign policy. Both principal political parties realized that a Kissinger-like emphasis on a realist or power politics approach to world affairs did not resonate well with American society.

Public opinion polls showed that the general public as well as opinion leaders did indeed list promoting and defending human rights in other countries, as well as helping to bring a democratic form of government to other nations, as "very important" goals of US foreign policy. 13 But in 1995 these goals were in 13th and 14th place, respectively, with only 34 percent and 25 percent of the general public listing them as very important. In contrast, 80 percent or more of the general public listed stopping the flow of illegal drugs into the United States, protecting the jobs of American workers, and preventing the spread of nuclear weapons as much more important, inter alia. Analysts concluded that there was considerable American popular support for pragmatic or self-interested internationalism, but not a great deal of support for moral internationalism. 14

There were many non-governmental organizations active in Washington on human rights questions. Two of the most prominent were Amnesty International-USA and Human Rights Watch. They were quite different. AI-USA used a general figure of 350,000 for its American membership, relied on public pressure to achieve its goals of specific protection on the ground, and manifested a restricted mandate focusing on prisoner matters — a mandate that had displayed "mission creep" over the years since its founding in the United Kingdom in 1961. Human Rights Watch relied on elite action rather than a mass movement, focused traditionally on a broad range of civil and political rights with some slight attention to socio-economic factors, and aimed more at affecting public policy than releasing specific prisoners. Legally oriented groups, such as the Lawyers' Committee for Human Rights, were especially numerous. Physicians for Human Rights frequently used forensic science to testify in Congress about such subjects as political murder in places like El Salvador and Bosnia. American labour, ethnic, and religious groups also were active on international human rights issues. And foreign-based human rights organizations, such as Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres), were much in evidence in various policy debates. But Amnesty International, among others, bemoaned its lack of ability to orient US foreign policy toward more support for various human rights issues. 15

The communications media based in the United States covered foreign human rights and humanitarian issues with such apparent influence sometimes that one spoke of "the CNN factor" in the making of US foreign policy. This was especially true after media coverage of the Kurdish plight in Iraq in 1991 and the plight of many starving Somalis in 1992 helped to produce US and international action on these issues. But the failure of media coverage to propel international involvement in Rwanda in 1994 and in eastern Zaire in 1997 showed the limits of the CNN factor. If an administration had a firm view of its interests, and especially of the dangers of involvement, it might not be much influenced by media coverage of foreign human rights problems.

The American business community is difficult to characterize on foreign human rights issues. Some American corporations, such as Levi Strauss, had a clear human rights policy. Strauss, based in San Francisco, refused to make blue jeans in China for human rights reasons. They were willing to pay whatever costs were involved in such decisions. The American garment industry was under increased pressure in the 1990s to do something about child labour and other issues about exploitation in its foreign operations. But most American corporations seemed not to support the interruption of business as usual for human rights purposes. Most American businesses interested in contracts in China, for example, came down on the side of delinking China's human rights record from questions of trade and especially questions about most-favoured-nation (MFN) status. Under heavy business lobbying, a majority in Congress pushed for a delinking of China's human rights record from MFN status, and the Clinton administration shifted gears to accept this orientation.

The Congress paid considerable attention to human rights in foreign policy from the mid-1970s, and on the House side — but not the Senate — there was a subcommittee of the Foreign Affairs Committee that tracked international human rights issues. The Congress acted in independent fashion on many foreign policy issues, relative to other legislatures. It had pushed the executive branch into action on a variety of human rights issues in the past in places such as Eastern Europe and South Africa. It had created a special bipartisan and bicameral Helsinki Commission to work for human rights in communist Europe during the Cold War. This Helsinki Commission continued its existence after about 1990 in efforts to promote democracy and the protection of national minorities in Europe. But especially after 1994 the Republican-controlled Congress seemed to reflect a certain fatigue with many foreign policy initiatives, especially those involving expenditure of money. Forty years of Cold War produced a wave of budget-cutting on foreign spending that made it difficult to undertake costly human rights programmes.

Although the Department of State manifested a human rights bureau from the mid-1970s because of congressional instructions, this office — renamed the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor — had little special clout in most administrations whether Democratic or Republican. Foreign Service Officers preferred assignment in other parts of the State Department as a faster track to career advancement. The office did compile annual country reports on the human rights situation in all other countries of the world, which received considerable domestic and foreign attention when submitted to Congress each year. Under congressional pressure, itself generated primarily by American conservative Christian groups, the office also started putting out an annual report on the persecution of Christians abroad. This report contributed to the saliency of the issue of religious freedom, which had long enjoyed a special status in the United States, given that many early settlers came to North America to escape religious persecution in Europe.

More important was the general opposition at high levels of the Defense Department to involvement of the US military in operations other than war or in low-level irregular warfare where the full power of the US high-tech, industrialized military establishment could not be brought to bear. The Pentagon was more comfortable fighting the Persian Gulf War against Iraq than in deploying limited force for limited and complicated human rights purposes in places such as Somalia, Haiti, and Bosnia. Especially after Madeleine Albright became Secretary of State, the Clinton administration was the scene of much debate between a Secretary of State who favoured military deployment for human rights purposes on occasion, and a Secretary of Defense and military staff who agreed with Michael Mandelbaum when he wrote that foreign policy was not social work and the United States was not Mother Teresa. 16 The Pentagon's reluctance to engage itself in less than all-out warfare led one commentator to observe that, since the United States wanted no casualties except in defence of traditional and narrow national interests, which was true of major European states as well, there were no Great Powers any more. 17 No state wanted to pay any significant price to control the outcome of most controversies that arose in international relations.

Because of this mix of domestic factors, one can better understand why human rights remained a fixture on the agenda of US foreign policy, but also why there were no crusades for human rights abroad entailing even moderate, much less high, financial and human costs. One can thus understand why the United States was reluctant to engage decisively while killing raged in places such as Bosnia and Rwanda, especially after American loss of life in Somalia. One can equally understand why the Clinton administration was mostly hesitant to pursue the arrest of war criminals, especially in the former Yugoslavia, fearing costly retaliation that would undermine public, congressional, and military support for the presence of US military forces in that complicated and unstable situation. One could fashion moral, legal, and even pragmatic arguments for US activism on a number of human rights issues abroad. One could argue, for example, that it would have cost the United States less money to stop the genocide in Rwanda than it paid out in subsequent years to help care for the refugees from genocide. The Clinton administration did take politically risky action for human rights in Haiti, since there was little support for that action in Congress and the Pentagon, although it was also pushed toward military deployment by domestic political forces — i.e. the congressional Black caucus demanding attention to the plight of Haitians, and politicians from south Florida demanding an end to unwanted Haitian immigration. But the central fact remained. Important parts of the American body politic — the general public, the business community, the Pentagon, and the Congress — were highly pragmatic and prudent about any costly crusade for international human rights. Clinton himself, a capable domestic politician and one not much given to sustained interest in foreign affairs, demonstrated no great personal passion on the issue of internationally recognized human rights.

III. Multilateral human rights policy

The International Bill of Rights

Although the United States pictures itself as a leader for human rights in the world, it has long manifested an uneasy relationship with the International Bill of Rights, made up of the human rights provisions of the United Nations Charter, the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. In 1945 the United States was in favour of general human rights language in the UN Charter, but opposed more specific language creating enforceable legal obligations. Likewise, the United States took the lead in the UN Human Rights Commission in pressing for the adoption of the Universal Declaration, but insisted it was only a statement of aspirations.

The two basic Covenants, and other UN human rights treaties like the one on genocide, have been especially controversial in Washington. 18 American nationalists fear that the preferred status of the US Constitution will be superseded by treaty law. Those in favour of internal states' rights fear that treaty law will excessively empower the federal government. Conservatives fear that international human rights principles will weaken American individualism and respect for private property. Racists fear further attention to principles of racial equality and multiculturalism. Unilateralists fear the further enmeshment of the United States in international (read, foreign) decision-making.

The prominence of these views during the 1950s, reflected in lobbying by the American Bar Association, caused the Eisenhower administration to eschew ratification of human rights treaties and to abandon a leadership role in human rights within international organizations. 19 The Kennedy administration successfully obtained ratification of several non-salient human rights treaties. The Carter administration, after Congress partially reversed itself and began to emphasize human rights abroad in some of its legislation from 1974, 20 submitted the two basic Covenants to the Senate for advice and consent, but did not lobby effectively for them. Things began to change superficially thereafter.

The Reagan administration, despite being the most unilateralist administration since the Second World War, secured ratification of the 1948 Genocide Convention in 1989. The Bush administration secured ratification of the 1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1992. Both formal adherences were accompanied by senatorial reservations, understandings, and declarations of a highly restrictive nature. 21 In fact, the Dutch government challenged US actions as being violative of international law. In the Dutch view, shared by others, the reservations, understandings, and declarations were incompatible with the basic purposes of the treaties in question. It appeared to these critics that the United States was trying to appear to accept the human rights treaties in question without actually having to incur any real and specific legal obligations. It was clear that, on the subject of civil and political rights, the United States did not want to expand on the provisions in the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. Moreover, the United States did not want to give the International Court of Justice at The Hague the jurisdiction to handle genocide petitions, or the UN Committee on Human Rights in Geneva the jurisdiction to receive individual complaints from Americans. The United States did finally agree, under the Civil and Political Covenant, to submit a report on its civil and political rights to the UN Committee on Human Rights and to respond to questions about that report. Such a process transpired for the first time during the Clinton administration. This exchange immediately led to conflict between the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the UN Human Rights Committee. Senator Jesse Helms, the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, challenged the right of the UN Human Rights Committee to make general statements about US policy decisions.

Although both the Carter and Clinton administrations have endorsed the UN Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, it remains especially controversial in Washington. Its values are in fact quite different from traditional American values, as noted above. The Republican Party and conservatives in general remain strongly opposed to the notion that the US government should be obligated, without the fundamental discretion to choose otherwise, to provide such things as food, clothing, shelter, and medical care to those who cannot purchase them in private markets. There is zero prospect, as of 1999, that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee would recommend to the full Senate that the latter give its advice and consent to this treaty. Even absent the Chair of that committee in 1997, Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina, a strong critic of the United Nations and its human rights activities in general, Senate approval would be highly difficult to obtain. 22 Thus far no President, including Carter, wanted to use up limited presidential influence vis-à-vis Congress in fighting for ratification of this Covenant.

Regional developments

The United States is a member both of the Organization of American States (OAS) and of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). In the former it has displayed sporadic diplomacy for human rights while avoiding as many legal obligations as possible under both the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man and the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights. In the OSCE, including its predecessor diplomatic process, the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), the United States has been highly active on human rights. One sees in these two regional organizations the same US pattern in foreign policy that one finds more generally. The United States frequently pushes civil and political rights for others through diplomacy, but is reluctant to reconsider its domestic laws and policies under international human rights instruments.

The inter-American system for the promotion and protection of human rights is complicated. 23 The United States has not been, and is not in the 1990s, a hegemonic leader for human rights in this regional arrangement. 24 The same domestic factors that caused reserve toward the International Bill of Rights at the United Nations caused the United States to reject the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights, with its attendant Court, and to contest the judgment that the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man was legally binding on members of the OAS. Also, the United States during the Cold War saw the OAS as primarily a security arrangement for the containment if not rollback of communism. This view required the United States to downgrade the importance of specific human rights in the hemisphere, since many of its security allies were also brutal authoritarians. Moreover, given the history of US military interventions in the hemisphere, many hemispheric states refused to defer to US leadership on a variety of issues including human rights, fearing US motivations and intentions.

From time to time the United States has utilized the OAS to advance human rights concerns. The Carter administration did so in its efforts to oust the dictator Anastasio Debayle Somoza from Nicaragua in the 1970s, supporting the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in its critical reports and diplomacy. The Bush administration did so in supporting the Santiago Declaration that declared any attack on democratic government in states of the hemisphere to be an international, and not domestic, matter — meriting a regional response. The Bush and Clinton administrations utilized the OAS, along with the United Nations, for electoral assistance and expanded peacekeeping operations (which include additional human rights programmes) in such countries as Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Haiti. Although the OAS has few programmes on the ground in the hemisphere and is not an organization that one can rely on for either military security or sustainable economic development, its human rights programme is the bright spot of the organization. This programme the United States has supported as it sees fit, but without fully integrating itself into OAS human rights activities — much less being a hegemonic leader for human rights. If US deployment of force is contemplated in relation to hemispheric human rights, as in Haiti or El Salvador, for example, the United States normally acts via the United Nations. This is because of OAS sensitivity to past uses of force in the hemisphere as controlled by the United States.

The old CSCE from 1974 manifested a human rights focus as one of its three main areas for diplomacy between the European communist and democratic states (with the United States and Canada as honorary Europeans). The third section of the Helsinki Accord (Basket Three) on human rights was devised by certain West European states, with the United States, under the influence of Henry Kissinger, being reserved about the wisdom of discussing such "internal" questions as human rights violations by the Soviet Union and its allies. 25 Once established, Basket Three came to be warmly endorsed by subsequent US administrations, which, prodded by private human rights groups such as Helsinki Watch, found it desirable to press the European communists on their human rights records. Because the old Soviet Union wanted certain security and economic arrangements from the West, a number of Western parties found it logical and advantageous to press the communists on human rights as a quid pro quo.

From the mid-1970s to about 1990, the European communists obtained very little through the CSCE pertaining to security and economics. But, although scientific analysis is difficult, there is reason to believe that constant US and Western pressure for human rights via the CSCE helped erode the legitimacy of communist authority in Europe. It is plausible to argue that communist endorsement of the Helsinki Accord, with its human rights and humanitarian provisions, including an obligation to disseminate the accord in all CSCE states, encouraged dissent from communist authoritarian rule. Numerous observers and participants have concluded that the CSCE process encouraged East European defection from the Soviet alliance circa 1989, and helped undermine the very existence of the Soviet Union up to 1991. 26 Many factors were at work, not least the many defects of the communist systems. And the United States was only one of many actors involved in highlighting communist deficiencies. Nevertheless, US foreign policy should be given some credit for developments, even if the CSCE provisions on human rights and humanitarian affairs were of West European origin.

After the Cold War, the United States was hesitant to transform the CSCE into the OSCE, given US concerns about the growing number of international organizations, bureaucracies, and budgets. Once the OSCE was created, however, the United States supported its efforts to protect minorities and advance human rights more generally throughout member states. The OSCE was especially active on human rights issues in countries of the former Yugoslavia. These efforts drew strong US support, as Washington was the primary player trying to make effective the provisions of the 1995 Dayton Accord. The Clinton administration had brokered that accord and had self-interested reasons for making it work. It thus welcomed efforts by the OSCE, along with others, to secure a liberal democratic peace in especially Bosnia and Croatia.

Space limitations preclude analysis of two other regional developments. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) included provisions affecting labour rights in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. And the US push for an expanded North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) sometimes entailed human rights arguments, namely that such expansion would provide another international framework for advancing democracy and managing minority problems. Significantly, the argument was made in connection with an expanded NATO that international security ultimately meant the security of persons inside states through protection of their human rights. 27

International financial institutions

For anyone concerned with the implementation of internationally recognized human rights, one of the great problems has been the role of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). These international financial institutions (IFIs) have historically seen themselves as strictly economic organizations that are precluded from acting on political grounds. Human rights, including socio-economic rights to adequate food, clothing, shelter, and health care, have been considered political factors by these two agencies, which control sizeable resources. The World Bank has come to accept that ecological concerns should be incorporated into its loan decisions as a regular part of its policy. The Bank has not come to a similar conclusion about various human rights. The Bank began to address issues of good governance, but tended to define this concept in accounting terms such as transparent economic decision-making. The IMF has been even more resistant than the Bank in addressing human rights issues, although some (inconsistent) shift might be taking place by the late 1990s. The United States has always been the most important state in these two IFIs and bears considerable responsibility for their record on human rights.

The crux of the problem is that the World Bank and the IMF may adopt loan policies that make it more difficult, rather than less, for a state to consolidate liberal democracy and protect a wide range of socio-economic human rights. The Bank and/or the IMF may insist on structural adjustment programmes (SAPs) that cause the state to shrink programmes and services to the people, particularly the most vulnerable people, for the sake of balancing the national budget, and thus increasing the private sector and particularly its exports. Such SAPs may cause popular dissatisfaction with, even riots or rebellions against, weak democratic governments. The Bank may make social assessments and provide some relief for social adjustments, but continues to resist the idea that it is obligated under international law to meet internationally recognized human rights. There is some evidence that IMF policies correlate with increased governmental repression in the short term, as governments under SAP conditionality seek to suppress popular discontent about harsh readjustment programmes. 28 If a weak democratic government, as in El Salvador, needs resources to carry out land reform and other costly programmes in order to satisfy various parties that have been in rebellion against past injustices, SAPs are definitely contrary to the implementation of socio-economic rights within a democratic framework. 29

The United States has frequently pursued a contradictory foreign policy in a number of situations, working in general for civil and political rights but voting for SAPs in the two IFIs under discussion that undermine the prospects for implementation of international human rights standards. In some cases the United States has resolved this contradiction by using the Bank as leverage to advance civil and political rights. Thus, in a limited number of instances, the United States has joined some of its democratic partners in the Bank to bring pressure on governments in places such as China, Kenya, or Malawi to improve the implementation of these rights. Yet in other situations the United States and its democratic allies have not insisted on political conditionality via the Bank. The overall record of the Bank on these matters is thus highly inconsistent. The Bank staff, composed mostly of traditional economists, resists systematic linkage with internationally recognized human rights, being willing to address social assessment only in the form of increased public participation in Bank projects. In this connection the Bank has created an Inspection Panel that can be triggered by private complaint. Periodically, state members of the Bank, however, compel it to delay or suspend loans because of massacres, repression, or authoritarianism. 30 In 1997 the United States succeeded in blocking an IMF loan to Croatia, because of that state's failure to do such things as protect minorities and arrest those indicted for international crimes. The United States had previously held up a Bank loan to the Serbian Republic within federal Bosnia, for similar non-implementation of the Dayton Accord. Thus under US pressure the Bank and Fund addressed some human rights factors, but on an inconsistent basis. The fact that the United States has never accepted the Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights contributes to this highly problematic situation.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which was supported by the United States diplomatically and financially, contained an explicit clause on human rights in its articles of agreement. Thus this European regional bank was always supposed to factor human rights considerations into its loan decisions. On the other hand, the Inter-American Development Bank, which was greatly affected by US policy, was similar to the World Bank, with only sporadic and inconsistent attention to human rights considerations. 31

United Nations action

We have noted the United States' ambivalent attitude toward the International Bill of Rights. There has been more general US ambivalence toward the United Nations as a whole, especially with the increased influence of conservative circles of opinion in Washington in the 1980s and 1990s. 32 This ambivalence toward the United Nations was deepened when, during the Cold War, the majority of states in the UN General Assembly used the language of human rights to try to undermine governments allied with the United States in South Africa, Israel, and Portugal and its colonial territories.

Since the ending of the Cold War, the United States has persistently sought to advance its views about human rights through the Security Council, the General Assembly, and the Human Rights Commission. As the one putative superpower during this era, it has met with considerable success in its policy objectives at the United Nations, and has broken some new legal and political ground in the process. Although the United States has been primus inter pares in the Security Council, it has met with more opposition in the Commission. In this latter body a strong undercurrent of reserve about US human rights policy has surfaced, articulated primarily by non-Western critics.

In the Council during the first decade after the Cold War, the United States has pushed with some success for three changes of major importance involving human rights. First, it has led in expanding the scope of Chapter VII of the Charter, involving matters on which the Council can take a binding decision, if necessary entailing coercive measures. In the process, the Council has shrunk the domain of exclusive state domestic jurisdiction. In dealing with Iraq's repression of Iraqi Kurds in 1991, Somalian starvation in 1992-1994, the breakup of former Yugoslavia during 1992-1995, the nature of government in Haiti during 1993-1996, and genocide in Rwanda in 1994, the United States led the Council in adopting a very broad scope to the notion of international peace and security. In effect, many human rights violations essentially inside states came to be viewed as constituting a threat to or breach of international peace and security, permitting authoritative Council decisions including the deployment of force and sometimes limited combat action. The 1992 Security Council summit of heads of state officially endorsed this expanded view of international responsibility, declaring that international peace could be disrupted by economic, ecological, and social developments, not just by traditional military developments. 33 The consequences of these Council decisions are potentially quite far reaching, leaving much less subject matter to be essentially within the exclusive domain of supposedly sovereign states. The United States has been central to all these developments, taking the lead in dealing with Iraq, Somalia, and Haiti, and being supportive of broad-reaching Council resolutions in the other relevant cases.

Secondly, the United States has also led in expanding the notion of UN peacekeeping that occurs mostly under Chapter VI of the Charter pertaining to the peaceful settlement of disputes. At the end of the Cold War the Council began to authorize complex or second-generation peacekeeping missions in countries such as Namibia, El Salvador, and Cambodia. Lightly armed military contingents, deployed with the consent of the parties in conflict, were increasingly accompanied by civilian personnel, and entailed considerable human rights duties. In places like El Salvador, deployments of human rights monitors actually preceded cease-fire agreements and the deployment of cease-fire monitors. Especially in internal rather than interstate conflicts, where the behaviour of the preceding government was a major cause of unrest, UN peacekeeping was mostly directed to improvement of human rights conditions and the creation and consolidation of a liberal democratic peace. Electoral assistance in various forms was frequently a part of these field missions. Narrow military or quasi-military functions were only a small part of most complex peacekeeping operations, although some of the operations were expanded to limited enforcement operations under Chapter VII. While the United States might or might not provide military elements to these field missions, it was always a key player in the authorization of second-generation peacekeeping. It was still true that the UN Security Council had never in its history deployed military force without the support of the United States. 34 Thus in many situations the United States led the United Nations in seeking not just peace based on the constellation of military power, but a liberal democratic peace based on many human rights.

Thirdly, the United States led the Council into the creation of two international criminal courts, one for the former Yugoslavia and one for Rwanda, the first such courts since 1946 and the international tribunals at Nuremberg and Tokyo. 35 In using the Council to create the 1993 and 1995 ad hoc courts with jurisdiction to prosecute and try individuals for certain violations of international law, the United States displayed mixed motives. On the one hand the United States did not want to engage in a costly intervention into the complicated situations of former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, where people of ill-will showed little hesitation in committing gross violations of human rights. In October 1993, events in Somalia had demonstrated to the United States that good intentions could lead to further death and injury. The two courts were created precisely because the United States in particular eschewed more decisive action. Here was further evidence that the United States was not interested in a costly crusade for human rights. On the other hand, the United States led the way in believing that some response had to be made to the evident killing and abuse of civilians on a massive scale. Thus the United States rejuvenated the idea of individual criminal responsibility for violations of the laws of war, crimes against humanity, and genocide. It provided more financial and personnel support to the two courts than any other state did. The United States eventually but successfully got agreement that NATO, embodied as SFOR, should arrest indicted suspects in the former Yugoslavia from mid-1997.

At the same time, the United States as a whole displayed consistent caution about a permanent UN criminal court. 36 It participated in negotiations for such a court, but in July 1998 it voted against the draft statute for such a court, which was approved by 120 states. Only six other states, mostly repressive, voted in the negative. The United States had tried to weaken the projected court, and had engaged in heavy-handed lobbying in defence of its views. But Washington found itself isolated at the Rome diplomatic conference, much as it had been isolated at the 1997 Ottawa diplomatic conference that agreed to ban anti-personnel land mines. Clinton essentially caved in to a Pentagon that did not want an international criminal court pressing it to court-martial US military personnel who might commit war crimes. Clinton was also under pressure from the nativists in the Congress like Jesse Helms who refused to accept in principle that US personnel and policies should be subject to international review and control. Once again we see the United States using the United Nations when the issue is human rights for others, as in former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, but hesitant to put itself under UN human rights law and authoritative agencies.

Since the ending of the Cold War, the General Assembly has not been terribly important to US foreign policy. The United States prefers to focus on the Security Council, where it has a preferred position, where it has important allies making up a high proportion of members, and where it can utilize the authority of Chapter VII. From time to time the United States has supported certain initiatives in the Assembly, such as the attempt to have clarified a presumed right to humanitarian assistance for individuals in armed conflict and what at the United Nations are called complex emergencies. This initiative resulted in several Assembly resolutions whose combined effect was ambiguous. Whereas the United States and others succeeded in having adopted by consensus some language addressing humanitarian need in these situations, developing countries insisted on including language endorsing state consent before assistance could proceed. 37 The United States has supported other Assembly resolutions on human rights and humanitarian affairs, but their impact on world politics has been mostly marginal.

The United States used the Assembly to create the new office of High Commissioner for Human Rights during fall 1993. The United States lobbied hard for this position, but so did other actors both public and private. The United States was especially pleased when Secretary-General Kofi Annan named the former Irish President, Mary Robinson, as the second High Commissioner. However, the United States has not been a leader in efforts to increase the UN human rights budget, which remains at about 1 per cent of UN regular spending, or under US$20 million. Congressional pressures have sought to reduce, not increase, most UN finances.

In recent decades the United States had displayed a highly active diplomacy in the UN Human Rights Commission. In the 1940s and 1950s in the Commission, to which the United States has always been elected by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Washington was content with the Commission's self-denying ordinance by which it refused to take up specific human rights problems in specific states. The executive's policy was shaped by its attempt to appease a non-cosmopolitan Congress in the 1950s and 1960s, noted above. From about 1970 the United States was part of the bargaining that led the Commission to shift its orientation, as it agreed to address human rights issues not only in Israel, South Africa, and, somewhat later, Chile, but also in other countries such as Greece and Haiti. 38 From that time the United States has, in principle, led or supported efforts to create a focus on particular countries and subject matter through such mechanisms as rapporteurs and working groups. The United States cooperated with the UN rapporteur on racial discrimination when he paid an extended visit to the country, but the subsequent report resulted in very little American media coverage. The United States has also supported the 1503 resolution, by which ECOSOC authorized the Commission to process private petitions alleging a systematic pattern of gross violations of human rights, and eventually to give some sort of publicity to offending states. The main exception to this US record of support for Commission diplomacy of a specific nature occurred during the first Reagan administration when Washington sought to block attention in the Commission to some of its more brutal authoritarian allies in places such as Chile, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

If one looks at the list of countries during the Cold War targeted by way of Commission resolutions and decisions to create rapporteurs and working groups, that list is more or less balanced according to geography and ideology. This suggests some US success, along with the Western Group, in directing attention to a number of communist states and other adversaries. Since the Cold War, the overall list of states that has drawn Commission concern remains a reasonable one. However, the United States has been unable to get the Commission to adopt a resolution critical of China's human rights record. China has effectively mobilized a blocking coalition of states, appealing to a number of non-Western states with the argument that the United States and certain other Western states focus too much on individual civil and political rights, without sufficient attention to underdevelopment and cultural differences. In historical fact, the Commission has focused mainly on civil and political rights since about 1970, with relatively little attention to economic, social, and cultural rights. China has also utilized its growing economic leverage to threaten states with loss of business contracts if they vote for critical resolutions in the Commission. These threats were quite explicit with regard to Denmark and the Netherlands in 1997. While these and other states like Britain continued to align with the United States in efforts to censure China, other European states such as France, Germany, Italy, and Greece refused to support the United States in the Commission during 1997 on the China question.

At the 1993 Vienna Conference on Human Rights sponsored by the United Nations, these same sorts of debates were played out. 39 The United States took the lead in trying to reaffirm the validity of universal human rights — while reserving to itself the discretion not to become a party to the Socio-Economic Covenant, not to allow individual petitions under the Civil—Political Covenant, not to ban the death penalty for common crimes, and not to give special protection to convicted minors under the age of 18. The Clinton administration did rhetorically endorse a right to development, although previous administrations had contested such a right in UN debates. A group of states led by China, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia, inter alia, argued for a strong version of cultural relativism and national particularism, suggesting that universal human rights should yield to local conditions. At the heart of the public debate was the argument that the US conception of human rights was too individualistic and strictly Western, and thus inappropriate to, in particular, crowded Asian countries with a history of elevating duties to the community over individual rights. The final document of the Vienna Conference proved more satisfying to the United States than the Commission debates on China in the mid-1990s. The Vienna Final Act reaffirmed universal human rights for all, stating that all countries had the obligation to respect them. The universal nature of these rights and freedoms is beyond question. But some language in the Final Act indicated that national and regional particularities and various historical, cultural, and religious backgrounds must be borne in mind.

The United States, with the world's largest economy, is usually among the leading countries, or is the leading country, in supporting certain agencies that work for human rights and humanitarian progress. It is, for example, the largest contributor to both the International Committee of the Red Cross, which works for victims of war and of complex emergencies, and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, which works with not only legal refugees but those who find themselves in a refugee-like situation. It should be noted, however, that the United States supports certain humanitarian programmes, which can be said to implement various human rights, precisely as a substitute for more decisive involvement. Some observers have estimated that it would have cost the United States less money to lead a military deployment in Rwanda in 1994 to stop genocide than it subsequently spent in helping to provide for the refugees from genocide. This type of analysis omits from the calculation of cost the probability of American military casualties from such an enforcement operation.

IV. Bilateral policy

Foreign assistance

From the mid-1970s the US Congress, in an ironic volte-face, required the executive to link US foreign security assistance, then later economic assistance, to internationally recognized human rights. 40 These laws were permissively written, with the executive able to utilize loopholes to avoid applying the statutes. Congress also lacked the will power, through follow-up oversight legislation, to compel various administrations to comply with the general standards that had been established in law. Congress then turned to more specific legislation. Perhaps the best known of these provisions was the so-called "Jackson—Vanik" amendment, requiring communist states desiring most-favoured-nation trading status with the United States to permit reasonable emigration. In addition to these and other congressional initiatives, various administrations on their own have manipulated US bilateral foreign assistance to reflect some concern with human rights.

Since 1981 a number of scholars have sought to establish the effect of human rights considerations in decisions about bilateral US foreign assistance. A general or summary effect has been difficult to prove. Some students of the issue have found that human rights concerns are evident in a first stage of decision-making, called the gate-keeping function, about which countries are eligible to receive foreign aid. Other studies looking at a one-stage process of foreign aid allocation have found little general and persistent influence from human rights considerations. A 1994 study covering Latin America found that human rights considerations did affect the disbursement of US economic and security assistance, as one factor among several, as long as a country was not deemed of major importance to the United States. But if a country, such as El Salvador in the 1980s, was considered highly important to US security, then other considerations like human rights fell by the wayside. 41 A 1995 study found that, with regard to US economic assistance to a broad range of countries, there was no correlation between levels of that assistance and the human rights record of recipient countries. 42 Likewise, a 1989 study showed no correlation between levels of US economic assistance and recipient countries' records on either political rights (democracy) or right to life (summary executions and forced disappearances). 43

A study published in 1999 argued that "human rights considerations did play a role in determining whether or not a state received military aid during the Reagan and Bush administrations, but not for the Carter and Clinton administrations. With the exception of the Clinton administration, human rights was a determinant factor in the decision to grant economic aid, albeit of secondary importance ... Human rights considerations are neither the only nor the primary consideration in aid allocation." 44

Moving away from macro or summary interpretations, one can easily observe that on any number of occasions the United States will at least temporarily link economic and security assistance to various human rights concerns — almost always pertaining to civil and political rights. 45 In 1997 the United States suspended foreign assistance to Cambodia after the Hun Sen coup that interrupted coalition government in a fragile and imperfect democratic political system. In that same year the United States made foreign assistance to the Kabila government in Zaire/Democratic Republic of the Congo dependent upon progress concerning several human rights issues, including an investigation into alleged massacres of refugees during fighting to oust the Mobutu government. As suggested by the broader studies, rarely is such US decision-making decisive in fully controlling a situation. Other states may not follow the US lead, thus lessening the impact of Washington's policy. The US aid programme may not be large enough to affect foreign decision-making. But in some cases the US impact is great enough to cause foreign leaders to think seriously about whether or not they wish to forgo Washington's support in order to continue their policies of the past. In 1993 the United States helped preserve movement toward liberal democracy and a winding down of civil war in Guatemala by suspending foreign assistance after an auto-golpe or attempt to seize excessive power by the existing President.

Humanitarian intervention

Historically the United States has made claims to a unilateral right to humanitarian intervention in order, presumably, to protect lives and property in foreign states. Recent Presidents did so, for example, in 1965 in the Dominican Republic, in 1983 in Grenada, and in 1989 in Panama. President Carter, in authorizing the attempted rescue of Americans from Iran in 1980, made claims to self-defence rather than humanitarian intervention. 46 There being no codified right of humanitarian intervention in international law to rescue either one's own nationals or foreigners, owing to the widespread and well-justified fear of its misuse, the United States is left with consideration of controversial exercises of power accompanied mostly by claims of self-defence (Iran, 1980) and/or of invitation to act by the consent of the government (Grenada, 1983). President Bush's assertion of an additional right to use force to restore a properly elected government in Panama was met with widespread opposition. President Clinton later side-stepped this issue in Haiti by obtaining UN Security Council authorization to use all necessary means to remove an unelected government, which had deposed an elected one, because of an alleged threat to international peace and security. Some uses of the US military to rescue both US nationals and foreigners have not been controversial in places such as Liberia and Somalia, because US action was met by widespread deference.

Democracy assistance

The United States has manifested a long history of concern with democracy abroad — at least via rhetoric. 47 Since the end of the Cold War the United States has stitched together a crazy-quilt of bits and pieces of legislation and executive decisions that with some overstatement can be called a programme of official democracy assistance. 48 Because of its disjointed nature, no one in Washington could give a firm figure of how much was being spent in toto to advance liberal democracy abroad. The Agency for International Development estimated that it was spending almost US$500 million per annum as of 1995. The State Department and the Justice Department also had their own programmes and budgets. Funding remained small relative to benchmarks such as the Marshall Plan of the late 1940s, or German spending on democracy in the area of former East Germany and its 17 million persons. The George Soros foundations spent more money for democracy and civic society in Russia than did the United States.

These official US activities were directed at three general targets: support for civic societies and the private groups found therein; support for state building, primarily via strong legislatures and independent courts; and support for free and fair elections with party competition. The absence of a compelling theory about what factors produced stable liberal democracy over time and place contributed to a lack of systematic governmental planning. The variety of conditions evident in Russia, Eastern and Central Europe, and the Western hemisphere, the principal areas of US interest, also led to a scatter-shot approach.

Evaluating the impact of the US democracy assistance programme is no easy task. The US role is intertwined with intergovernmental organizations such as the United Nations, the OSCE, and the OAS. The United States shares objectives with numerous private groups. US programmes are quite similar to those of the National Endowment for Democracy, a quasi-independent Washington-based agency funded by congressional appropriation. Other states have their own pro-democracy policies. Even in one country such as Romania, it is difficult to say what is the precise influence of US decisions for democracy, given the short time-frame so far, the plethora of other influences, and the absence of a proven theory of causation as a check-point. 49

Several hypotheses suggest themselves for further enquiry. Particularly in the new states emerging from the former Soviet Union, and in much of Eastern Europe, US programmes in the name of democracy seemed more oriented to market restructuring for privatization than for democracy per se. Washington's semantics about market democracies seemed designed to legitimize this emphasis on economic reform. Some research suggests no automatic correlations between economic growth via markets and liberal democracy. 50 Absent a concerted push to make privately generated wealth compatible with democracy, private wealth can be easily combined with authoritarianism. This line of research and reasoning casts some doubt on the US emphasis on extensive privatization as a necessary precondition for liberal democracy. Although all stable democracies are based on some version of capitalism, a number of relatively stable democracies, such as France and Sweden, manifest relatively large public sectors.

In the Western hemisphere especially, relative lack of US attention to the economic resources of the public sector has hampered the consolidation of liberal democracy in places like El Salvador. This was noted above in the section on international financial institutions. US determination to shrink the public sector, in the name of an efficient private and for-profit sector, may not be what emerging democracies need in order to obtain popular support through expensive programmes of land reform, education, etc. In Eastern Europe, several electorates have returned to power a somewhat reformed communist party in protest against shrinking public services and in quest for a better quality of life. US democracy assistance may be driven as much by a bias against big government and in favour of big markets as by a programme that is appropriately tailored to the needs of the recipient. The fact that the United States is not a social democracy and does not recognize socio-economic human rights contributes to this situation. 51

The amount of US spending for democracy abroad, and in general the real importance of this objective in US foreign policy, may be too small to generate profound influence in many countries. In a number of countries the United States may be more interested in traditional military security and economic arrangements advantageous to the United States than in liberal democracy. This hypothesis is difficult to test. Is the expansion of NATO to provide a check on the Russian Bear in the event of a more nationalistic and militarized government in Moscow, or is that expansion to provide an additional framework for the management of problems of democracy and other human rights in former European communist states? In any event, it is highly probable that, given the absence of congressional and public sentiment in support of further spending on foreign assistance, it would be desirable for the United States to concentrate on certain key or pivotal states. If the United States decides to leave the basic question of guaranteeing public order in Albania to an Italian-led coalition of European states, it is difficult to understand why the United States should have a democracy assistance programme in Albania rather than transferring that spending to Indonesia.

Finally, it should be noted that the United States takes many decisions in its foreign policy apart from official democracy assistance that have an impact on democracy abroad. We noted above the US reaction to Hun Sen's coup in Cambodia in 1997, and to the Guatemalan auto-golpe in 1993. We could also note US deference to French policy in supporting the cancellation of national elections in Algeria in 1992; or US support for controlled Algerian elections in 1997. These ad hoc or reactive decisions do not present one pattern in support of, or opposition to, free and fair national elections. In some cases, e.g. Syria or Saudi Arabia, the United States does not push for liberal democracy, giving preference to traditional security and economic interests. In other cases, e.g. Albania or Kenya, the United States does support electoral freedoms. In still other cases, e.g. Nigeria, the United States endorses liberal democracy in the abstract but does not much push for it in quotidian diplomacy.

V. Conclusions

The United States professes to be a leader for human rights in the world but displays an ambivalent attitude toward the International Bill of Rights and numerous other international human rights documents. In American society there is much scepticism not only about international rights standards in general, as compared with US constitutional norms, but also about economic rights and a claimed collective human right to development in particular. Nevertheless, in the United Nations, the OAS, and the OSCE the United States has either initiated or supported much diplomacy at least for civil and political rights. And in Somalia President Bush took significant action to respond to starvation and malnutrition, even if he did not address the issues in terms of socio-economic rights. Somalia notwithstanding, however, by emphasizing civil and political rights to the almost total exclusion of socio-economic rights, US diplomacy tends to spotlight repression while mostly ignoring oppression. 52

Particularly noteworthy was US leadership, at least during 1991-1993, for an expanded UN programme of complex peacekeeping with overtones of Chapter VII enforcement action on issues that were substantially human rights issues. In other words, the United States agreed that international peace and security could sometimes refer to the security of persons inside states. This latter view logically entailed a far-reaching consideration of human rights. 53

The United States appears to be belatedly addressing the interplay of economic and political rights through a debate about policy toward the international financial institutions. The United States, like its democratic partners, appears to be slowly moving away from the view that the World Bank and the IMF, inter alia, should be strictly economic organizations without a human rights component. As noted, the United States has sought to link both the Bank and the Fund to its human rights concerns in the former Yugoslavia (where human rights are intertwined with security issues). The United States may even eventually recognize that in places such as El Salvador, shrinking the resources of the public sector in the name of private markets and export-led economic growth, under the umbrella of structural adjustment programmes, may in fact impede the consolidation of liberal democracy. On balance, US foreign policy makers in various administrations and political parties do not display a consensus on the relationship between economics on the one hand and civil and political rights on the other. The bias is toward the primacy of market restructuring. This is evident in US bilateral programmes for democracy abroad, where more funds have been spent on market reform than on civic society, state building, and electoral assistance. In part this lack of careful attention to the interplay of economics and democracy is because social scientists lack consensus on the same subject.

The most notable feature of US foreign policy on human rights after the Cold War, whether multilateral or bilateral, is the desire to avoid significant costs of either blood or treasure. This is quite evident in Washington's desire to avoid even small-scale casualties after its Somalian experience, and in spending for official democracy assistance that falls far short of the expectations generated by the accompanying rhetoric. It is one thing for the United States to engage in the easy diplomacy for human rights that is detached from finances and coercion. It is another thing to take rights so seriously in foreign policy that one's diplomacy on the subject is in fact linked to means of implementation, beyond jawboning, in the face of obstacles.

It is persuasive for moralists to argue that, in the twenty-first century, an age of rights should demand at a minimum that there be no mass murder and no mass starvation. Insofar as the 1990s are concerned, when we review US foreign policy in places such as Bosnia, Somalia, and Rwanda, we are forced to conclude that one cannot rely on US foreign policy consistently to help ensure this minimal respect for international human rights. Some countries, like Rwanda, seem beyond the scope of American humanitarian concern. Others, like Bosnia, seem not worth the candle — too costly in terms of American vested interests. A third problem, evident in places such as Turkey and China, is that American economic and security interests dictate a lower priority to human rights. 54 This record cannot help but detract from a more positive US record, at least for civil and political rights, in some countries like Guatemala and Burma.

The most fundamental problem blocking a consistently progressive stand on international human rights issues stems from a lack of political will at home to pay the necessary price to see even American, much less international, rights principles realized abroad. The real problem is the danger not of moral crusade but of moral abnegation. In this sense the American self-image of a nation standing for individual freedom for all is at considerable variance with international reality. The world is still a large and imperfect place, but states can set priorities and distinguish between gross and more minor violations of human rights. Extensive rhetoric about universal human rights, however, generates its own pressures over time to close the gap between rhetoric and reality.


Note 1: T. Davis and S. Lynn-Jones, "City upon a Hill," Foreign Policy, no. 66 (1987), 20-38.  Back.

Note 2: David Jacobson, Rights across Borders (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), 102 and passim.  Back.

Note 3: Contemporary public opinion polls indicate superficial popular support for national health care, but this opinion tends to dissipate when questions are asked about cost, less coverage for some, and a larger state bureaucracy, etc. See further Audrey R. Chapman, "The Defeat of Comprehensive Health Care Reform: A Human Rights Perspective," in David P. Forsythe, ed., The United States and Human Rights: Looking Inward and Outward (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1999).  Back.

Note 4: See further David P. Forsythe, Human Rights and World Politics (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1984), chapter V, p. 168, quoting the novelist John Fowles. See also Rhoda Howard, Human Rights and the Search for Community (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1995).  Back.

Note 5: George F. Kennan, American Diplomacy 1900-1950 (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1951); John G. Spanier, American Foreign Policy since World War II (Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Press, 1992).  Back.

Note 6: Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., "Human Rights and the American Tradition," Foreign Affairs 57/2 (1979), 503—526.  Back.

Note 7: See especially David P. Forsythe, "Democracy, War, and Covert Action," Journal of Peace Research 29/4 (1992), 385-395; and Jack Donnelly, "Humanitarian Intervention and American Foreign Policy: Law, Morality, and Politics," Journal of International Affairs 37 (1984), 311-328.  Back.

Note 8: Ernst B. Haas, Global Evangelism Rides Again: How to Protect Human Rights without Really Trying (Berkeley, CA: Institute of International Studies, 1978). For an example of assumptions about a US crusade not substantiated by the facts, see Joshua Muravchik, The Uncertain Crusade: Jimmy Carter and the Dilemmas of Human Rights Policy (Lanham: Hamilton Press, 1986).  Back.

Note 9: David P. Forsythe, "Human Rights and US Foreign Policy: Two Levels, Two Worlds," Political Studies 43 (1995), 111-130; also in David Beetham, ed., Politics and Human Rights (London: Blackwell, 1996). The Spanish-American War of 1898 constitutes one of the better examples of American moralism in foreign policy, but even in this case the United States was driven as much by the quest for colonies and Great Power status as by the desire to liberate Cuba and the Philippines from Spanish tyranny. The United States did not grant Filipino independence until 1946.  Back.

Note 10: Crag N. Whitney, "Paris Snips Ties Binding It to Africa," New York Times, 25 June 1997, p. A5. France had stuck with ageing African dictators too long in an effort to carve out a zone of French influence, had lost out in shifts of power, and was thus forced to realign its relations with various African governments.  Back.

Note 11: U.S. Department of State Dispatch, 28 September 1992, pp. 721-724.  Back.

Note 12: Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, 24 October 1994, pp. 2041-2044.  Back.

Note 13: Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, American Public Opinion Report-1995,  Back.

Note 14: In addition to ibid., see Ole R. Holsti, "Public Opinion on Human Rights in American Foreign Policy," in Forsythe, ed., The United States and Human Rights, op. cit.  Back.

Note 15: Ellen Dorsey, "U.S. Foreign Policy and the Human Rights Movement: New Strategies for a Global Era," in Forsythe, ed., The United States and Human Rights, op. cit.  Back.

Note 16: Michael Mandelbaum, "Foreign Policy as Social Work," Foreign Affairs 75/1 (January/February 1996), 16—32.  Back.

Note 17: Edward Luttwak, "Where Are the Great Powers," Foreign Affairs 73/4 (July/August 1994), 23—29.  Back.

Note 18: See Natalie Hevener Kaufman, Human Rights Treaties and the Senate: A History of Opposition (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1990). See also Lawrence J. LeBlanc, The United States and the Genocide Convention (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1991). And David P. Forsythe, "The Politics of Efficacy: The United Nations and Human Rights," in Lawrence S. Finkelstein, ed., Politics in the United Nations System (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1988), 246—273.  Back.

Note 19: Tony Evans, US Hegemony and the Project of Universal Human Rights (London: Macmillan, 1996).  Back.

Note 20: David P. Forsythe, Human Rights and U.S. Foreign Policy: Congress Reconsidered (Gainesville, FL: University Presses of Florida, 1988).  Back.

Note 21: William Schabas, "Spare the RUD or Spoil the Treaty: The United States Challenges the Human Rights Committee on the Subject of Reservations," in Forsythe, ed., The United States and Human Rights, op. cit.  Back.

Note 22: To date the International Bill of Rights generates almost no influence on US courts when they decide questions of treaty law, slight influence regarding questions of customary law, and some influence on constitutional law issues. With regard to the latter, international human rights norms sometimes inform US court decisions on such constitutional questions as the meaning of "cruel and unusual punishment," the definition of "minors," or the content of "due process of law," etc. Richard B. Lillich, "International Human Rights Law in U.S. Courts," Journal of Transnational Law and Policy 2/1 (1993), 1—22.  Back.

Note 23: Scott Davidson, The Inter-American Human Rights System (Aldershot: Dartmouth Publishing Co., 1997).  Back.

Note 24: David P. Forsythe, "Human Rights, the United States, and the Organization of American States," Human Rights Quarterly 13/1 (February 1991), 66—98.  Back.

Note 25: William Korey, The Promises We Keep: Human Rights, the Helsinki Process, and American Foreign Policy (New York: St. Martin's, 1993).  Back.

Note 26: See further David P. Forsythe, ed., Human Rights in the New Europe: Problems and Progress (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1993).  Back.

Note 27: US Congress Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, Report on Human Rights and the Process of NATO Enlargement (Washington, DC: The Commission, 1997).  Back.

Note 28: Linda Camp Keith and Steven C. Poe, "The United States, the IMF, and Human Rights: A Policy Relevant Approach," in Forsythe, ed., The United States and Human Rights, op. cit.  Back.

Note 29: Alvaro de Soto and Graciana del Castillo, "Obstacles to Peacebuilding," Foreign Policy, no. 94 (Spring 1994), 69-83.  Back.

Note 30: David P. Forsythe, "The United Nations, Human Rights, and Development," Human Rights Quarterly 19/2 (May 1997), 334-349.  Back.

Note 31: Charles A. Reilly, Complementing States and Markets: The IDB and Civil Society (Miami, FL: North-South Center of Miami University, 1996)..  Back.

Note 32: Robert W. Gregg, About Face? The United States and the United Nations (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1993).  Back.

Note 33: S/23500, 31 January 1992, "Note by the President of the Security Council."  Back.

Note 34: In addition to David P. Forsythe, "Human Rights and International Security: United Nations Field Operations Redux," in M. Castermans et al., eds., The Role of the Nation State in the 21st Century (The Hague: Kluwer, 1998), 265-276, see also: Ramesh Thakur and Carlyle A. Thayer, eds., A Crisis of Expectations: UN Peacekeeping in the 1990s (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1995); Steven Ratner, The New UN Peacekeeping (New York: St. Martin's, 1995); Paul F. Diehl, International Peacekeeping (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993); William J. Durch, ed., The Evolution of UN Peacekeeping: Case Studies and Comparative Analysis (New York: St. Martin's, 1993); and Lori Damrosch, ed., Enforcing Restraint: Collective Intervention in Internal Conflicts (New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1993).  Back.

Note 35: A good overview of issues is found in Roger S. Clark and Madeleine Sann, eds., The Prosecution of International Crimes (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 1996).  Back.

Note 36: David P. Forsythe, "International Criminal Courts: A Political View," Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights 15/1 (March 1997), 5-19.  Back.

Note 37: See further David P. Forsythe, "Human Rights and Humanitarian Operations: Theoretical Observations," in Eric A. Belgrad and Nitza Nachmias, eds., The Politics of International Humanitarian Aid Operations (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1997), 37-52.  Back.

Note 38: Vernon Van Dyke, The United States, Human Rights, and World Community (New York: Oxford University Press, 1970).  Back.

Note 39: See further David P. Forsythe, "The UN and Human Rights at 50: An Incremental but Incomplete Revolution," Global Governance 1/3 (September-December 1995), 297-318.  Back.

Note 40: David P. Forsythe, Human Rights and U.S. Foreign Policy: Congress Reconsidered (Dainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 1988).  Back.

Note 41: Steven C. Poe, et al., "Human Rights and US Foreign Aid Revisited: The Latin American Region," Human Rights Quarterly 16/3 (August 1994), 539-558, and the literature cited therein.  Back.

Note 42: Patrick M. Regan, "U.S. Economic Aid and Political Repression: An Empirical Evaluation of US Foreign Policy," Political Research Quarterly 48/3 (September 1995), 613-628.  Back.

Note 43: David P. Forsythe, "U.S. Economic Assistance and Human Rights: Why the Emperor Has No Clothes (Almost)," in Forsythe, ed., Human Rights and Development: International Views (London: Macmillan, 1989), 171-195.  Back.

Note 44: Clair Apodaca and Michael Stohl, "United States Human Rights Policy and Foreign Assistance," International Studies Quarterly 43/1 (March 1999), 185.  Back.

Note 45: David D. Newsom, ed., The Diplomacy of Human Rights (Lanham: University Press of America, 1986); Sandy Vogelgesang, American Dream, Global Nightmare: The Dilemma of U.S. Human Rights Policy (New York: Norton, 1980). US attention to human rights is highly problematical during times of revolution; see Sara Steinmetz, Democratic Transition and Human Rights: Perspectives on U.S. Foreign Policy (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1994).  Back.

Note 46: For an overview see Kelly-Kate S. Pease and David P. Forsythe, "Human Rights, Humanitarian Intervention, and World Politics," Human Rights Quarterly 15/3 (May 1993), 290-314.  Back.

Note 47: Tony Smith, America's Mission: The United States and the Worldwide Struggle for Democracy in the Twentieth Century (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994). Back.

Note 48: David P. Forsythe, with Michele Leonard and Garry Baker, "U.S. Foreign Policy, Democracy, and Migration," paper presented at the New School, New York City, April 1997.  Back.

Note 49: Thomas Carothers, Assessing Democracy Assistance: The Case of Romania (Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment, 1996).  Back.

Note 50: Adam Przeworski and Fernando Limongi, "Modernization: Theories and Facts," World Politics 49/2 (January 1997), 155-183. Compare especially Samuel P. Huntington, The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991).  Back.

Note 51: See further William I. Robinson, Promoting Polyarchy: Globalization, U.S. Intervention, and Hegemony (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).  Back.

Note 52: Kathryn Sikkink, "The Power of Principled Ideas: Human Rights Policies in the United States and Western Europe," in Judith Goldstein and Robert O. Keohane, eds., Ideas and Foreign Policy: Beliefs, Institutions, and Political Change (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1995), 159. See also Smith, America's Mission, op. cit.: the United States, while preaching civil and political rights, actually acted to shore up autocracy in places like the Philippines and the Western hemisphere during much history, through inattention to the effects of economic policies.  Back.

Note 53: See further David P. Forsythe, "Human Rights Policy: Change and Continuity," in Randall B. Ripley and James M. Lindsay, eds., U.S. Foreign Policy after the Cold War (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1997).  Back.

Note 54: See further Aryeh Neier, "The New Double Standard," Foreign Policy, no. 105 (Winter 1996-7), 91-103.  Back.