America’s commitment to unalienable human rights at home has proved a beacon of hope for men and women abroad pursuing their own liberties.
The recently released Commission on Unalienable Rights report stresses the importance of American leaders championing human rights as a guiding principle of U.S. foreign policy, said Peter Berkowitz, Director of Policy Planning at the State Department:
“At a minimum it is important for our leaders to speak forcefully about the American conviction rooted in the American Declaration of Independence, rooted in the American form of government that all legitimate political power springs from the consent of the governed. And the first purpose of government is to secure the rights that inhere in all persons. Championing that is a crucial part of American foreign policy.”
The Commission report also found that the United States can be most effective in championing human rights abroad when it protects those rights at home, said Mr. Berkowitz.
And finally, human rights must be cultivated in society, so they become firmly rooted in the political culture, said Director Berkowitz:
“The protection of human rights, the championing of human rights, these are not actions that come automatically. They need to be cultivated. How are they cultivated, this respect for human rights? Cultivated in families, in communities, in an educational system, in a public political culture of a certain type that fosters in citizens a certain sensibility, which teaches them to respect the rights inherent in all persons.”
For the promotion of human rights abroad to succeed, noted Director Berkowitz, it is crucial to focus on not only the Declaration of Independence, but also the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in order to find a small core of fundamental rights that can serve as a standard for politics everywhere.