In the midst of the war to oust the brutal Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, the U.S. has released its annual report on human rights practices around the world. Secretary of State Colin Powell said the stakes in the war could not be higher:
“U.S. forces and our coalition partners are fighting to protect our country and the world from the potentially catastrophic combination of an outlaw state, weapons of mass destruction, and terrorism. In the process, we are liberating the Iraqi people from a ruthless tyranny that has showed utter contempt for human life.”
Mr. Powell pointed out that Saddam Hussein’s regime is “a classic illustration” of the fact that states that ruthlessly violate the rights of their citizens also tend to pose the greatest threats to international peace:
“In contrast, states which demonstrate a high degree of respect for human rights are likeliest to contribute to international security and well-being. Where human rights and freedoms flourish, terrorists and tyrants do not thrive, and conflict and chaos do not reign.”
Besides Iraq, the human rights report covers one-hundred ninety-five other countries. In some cases, the report cites improvements. In the Middle Eastern countries of Bahrain and Morocco, open elections were held for the first time last year. And in Qatar, elections are scheduled for this month.
In many other countries, serious human rights abuses continue. Some of the worst violators are the governments of Cuba, Burma, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Turkmenistan, and Zimbabwe. And despite some improvements, the Chinese government continues to be one of the world’s major violators of human rights.
The U.S. will continue to promote human rights around the globe. As Secretary of State Powell said, it is “an integral. . .part of our foreign policy.”