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

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid