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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs