Opinions: PEPFAR funding; Aid in Africa; Obama, human rights

February 11, 2016

In a National Review opinion piece, Jacob Mchangama, an external lecturer of international human-rights law at the University of Copenhagen, contrasts the actions on human rights issues under the Obama administration with those in the administration under former president George W. Bush: "The Bush administration was cool toward the U.N. human-rights structure for a simple reason: It did not want to confer legitimacy on a system that rogue states and their supporters have turned into an instrument of tyranny," he writes. "The Obama administration, by contrast, apparently believes that participation and dialogue in itself is more important than the outcome," Mchangama adds, pointing to the recent decision by the U.S. to abstain from voting on a U.N. resolution that declared access to clean and safe water to be a human right.

"The Obama administration has also accepted seemingly harmless compromises that actually chip away at human rights," Mchangama adds before citing several instances of such compromises.

"If the U.S. wants to be taken seriously as the leader of the free world, it must champion the cause of freedom at the U.N. by actively leading a coalition of democracies, confronting authoritarians, and shaming the spoilers. Alternatively, the U.S. could decide that human rights are best championed outside the U.N. and build a credible alternative. But sitting on the fence is tantamount to surrender," Mchangama concludes (8/10).

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