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How To Promote Human Rights

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The U.S. State Department has a new Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. Michael Posner has been at the forefront of the international human rights movement for 30 years.

He will now work on behalf of the United States to promote accountable institutions of government that protect the rule of law; empower women and minorities so that they can participate in the decision-making processes that affect their lives; promote equality, liberty, and fairness so that every man woman and child has a chance to fulfill his or her potential.

At his swearing in ceremony, Assistant Secretary Posner described his new office as having 3 primary objectives. First off is to make sure that human rights are an integral part of U.S. foreign policy. To this end, the office of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor will work to "support and encourage this administrations' principled approach to re-engagement in the world."

In addition, Assistant Secretary Posner said he will "press for universal adherence to human rights commitments by all governments." The U.S. government also has a critical role to play in "amplifying the voices of those who work to advance human dignity, justice, and liberty around the world and to provide a lifeline of protection to them when they get in trouble." As part of that effort, said Assistant Secretary Posner, the U.S. "will continue to forge relationships with non-governmental organizations, labor unions, the religious community, and socially responsible companies and others."

Assistant Secretary Posner said he gained two valuable lessons from his family's experiences during the Holocaust: "Governments that fall into the hands of dictators and demagogues are capable of unspeakable atrocities." The second more hopeful lesson, he said, is that "courageous people often can and do stand up to oppression, and it's our duty to help them."

The United States, said Assistant Secretary of State Posner, "has always stood for this most fundamental imperative and I believe that with few exceptions, people in the world are with us."