News / USA

Rice: US Faces Tough Choices in Upholding Human Rights Principles, National Security

FILE - U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice is seen with President Barack Obama in the background.
FILE - U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice is seen with President Barack Obama in the background.
U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice says the United States remains firmly committed to defending human rights, although it sometimes faces "painful dilemmas" and "tough choices" in situations across the globe.

Addressing a conference sponsored by the advocacy group Human Rights First, Rice said President Barack Obama has always been clear that advancing the principles of democracy and respect for human rights is central to U.S. foreign policy.

She said the United States stands for the rights of women, the LGBT community, and minorities, defends freedom of worship, assembly and a free press, as well as champions open government and civil society.

At the same time, Rice said the U.S. sometimes faces what she called "painful dilemmas" when the need to defend national security interests clashes with "the fundamental commitment to democracy and human rights."

"Let's be honest. At times, as a result, we do business with governments that do not respect the rights we hold most dear," said Rice. "We make tough choices. When rights are violated we continue to advocate for their protection, but we cannot and I will not pretend that some short-term trade-offs do not exist."

Rice listed successes, including working through the United Nations to halt violence in Cote d'Ivoire, helping to remove the M23 militia from the battlefield in Congo, and working for progress toward inclusive democracy in Burma.

She said the United States "called to account" some of the world's worst human rights abusers, including governments in Iran, Syria, Eritrea, Zimbabwe, North Korea, and Sudan.

Even as the world tests the potential of a diplomatic solution to the Iran nuclear issue, she said another key test is whether there will be progress on human rights.

"We call on the government of Iran to allow the U.N. Special Rapporteur to visit the country. Our sanctions on Iran's human rights abuses will continue, and so will our support for the fundamental rights of all Iranians. The Iranian people deserve the same right to express themselves online and through social media as their leaders enjoy," said Rice.

Rice noted modest economic reforms in Cuba, but condemned arrests of human rights activists. She renewed a call for the release of Alan Gross, the American sentenced to 15 years in prison in Cuba after being convicted of crimes against the state in 2011.

Rice also said the U.S. continues to speaks clearly and consistently with China about what she called shortsighted restrictions on freedoms there.

"When people in China cannot hold public officials to account for corruption, environmental abuses, worker and consumer safety, or public health crises, problems that effect China as well as the world go unaddressed. When courts imprison political dissidents who merely urge respect for China's own laws, no one in China, including Americans doing business there, can feel secure," she said.

In Russia, Rice said the U.S. "deplores selective justice and the prosecution of those who protest the corruption and cronyism that is sapping Russia's economic future," and does not remain silent about... the Russian government's systematic efforts to curtail the actions of Russian civil society, to stigmatize the LGBT community, to coerce neighbors like Ukraine who seek closer integration with Europe, or to stifle human rights in the North Caucasus."

Rice said the U.S. has a stake in promoting inclusive politics in Egypt to avoid driving opponents into the arms of extremist groups.

"We have spoken out about the deleterious impact the new demonstrations law and its heavy-handed enforcement [are] having on freedom of assembly in Egypt. We will continue to urge non-violence and progress on Egypt's roadmap toward an inclusive and stable democracy," she said.

Rice urged the lifting of restrictions on civil society in Bahrain. She said the U.S. rejects incitement and violence in the West Bank against Israelis, while rejecting settler violence against Palestinians and "daily humiliations" she said must end "for a culture of peace to take root."

You May Like

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More