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December 01
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JANUARY 21, 2009 9:23AM

Obama Answers Human Rights Watch Call?

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“Our founding fathers ... our founding fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all the other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more. “

Is this a direct answer to the call from Human Rights Watch for America to take up the cause of human rights against the spoiler nations who have co-opted our role? Specific actions urged by Human Rights Watch call on Obama to seek a seat on the UN Human Rights Council and fully ratify key international Human Rights Conventions.

“For the first time in nearly a decade, the US has a chance to regain its global credibility by turning the page on the abusive policies of the Bush administration," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. "And not a moment too late. Today, the most energetic diplomacy on human rights comes from such places as Algiers, Cairo, and Islamabad, with backing from Beijing and Moscow, but these ‘spoilers' are pushing in the wrong direction."  

I would like to think so.

Human Rights Watch: The Disastrous Bush Years



"Obama, in three executive orders, renewed the US commitment to the Geneva convention on the treatment of detainees. All detainees will be registered by the International Committee for the Red Cross, in another departure of past practice under the Bush administration."

--The Guardian, UKwordpress com stats plugin

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We'd all like to think so, O'steph

Thanks, John and Fingerlakeswanderer,
I can't help but think that the language addresses this issue. It would be the smartest way to reclaim America's greatness.
I'm with you o'steph.
Thank you, gracielou!

Forgive me, my friends, for blogwhoring this to the max. (It took me four emails to get through my humongous friend's list.) I usually only blogwhore to a select few whom I feel may have an interest, but this time I felt it was important enough for everyone to see. And I am also convinced that it will not get play otherwise.
Gee, Dr. Dach...how long did you want this speech to be? I know he has been called for leaving some groups out of his speech but, since he has mentioned them before, I feel we need to give him the benefit of the doubt.
And he DID say the above just after HRW made the call. I don't think it was a coincidence or rhetoric.
osteph, you can blog whoring me an email anytime.lol
AWESOME post! Yes it needs lots of attention.

We all can only hope so. Repairing America back to it's Greatest is way over due.
Thank you for this great post. Rated of course.
Thanks, fireeyes,
I want to make it back over to your post to read your 25.
Surely no one reallly believes that governments in Cairo, Algiers, and Islamabad are engaged in the spread of human rights! They have not coopted our role in the world, but the EU most certainly has. And as they have done so, their influence in world affairs, both political and economic, grows in direct correlation with the decline of our own.

We disengage from this important matter at our own peril.
I'm optimistic enough in this day in time to believe that it will. Great post and rated, Steph!
These countries are working on human rights but to LIMIT them. IF the only ones working on human rights are "spoilers", the whole world is in deep trouble.
HRW asked for America to lead again on human rights. Fighting them on the UN council would be a face off. The US carries a lot of weight at the UN. We need to use it.
Well done Steph.

Take Care,
Thank you, onecorgilover,
How is that Doxie working out for your pup? I get wireless today and will check out that video.

I am hardly ever careful...
Not when I have a bone in my teeth...
Optimism reigns. For sure. I would like to think true, human morality is high on the agenda.
I'm on board with you Stephanie.
It seems his first act is to stop the military trials at Guantanamo, and hopefully he will follow up to close the place down.

The second act I would hope for is the prosecution of all Bush administration officials approving and promoting torture, rendition and the violation of habeas corpus. That would really send the message to the world that the US is committed to end the attacks on Human Rights.
That passage in Obama's speech grabbed me, too, Steph, and filled me with such hope that things will really be different. Restoring and respecting human rights should be his first priority. I think the rest of the world is ready for it, too.
I'm hoping everything Obama promised, will come to pass, (my fingers and toes crossed.) But I also think that human rights need to be applied here in the US first, and then to the rest of the world. Bush broke the American people along with the world and we need the 1st fix.

Just my opinion.
Quite right, Ric. We need to clean our own house. Everyone on the Obama site was FOR putting these guys on trial.
Thanks to everyone!
School day for me so I will check back at noon.
I really appreciate all of you so much!

Am wondering if 3 legacies of the Bush years will be:

1) Words have been robbed of their actual meaning. When a call for basic human rights is sounded---especially when it is sounded as poetically as Obama did--perhaps there are people who really don't know what the words actually mean. And not knowing what the words mean gives these folks the freedom to take the subject wherever they want. Hijack the post however you see fit. So the dialogue becomes "Human rights? Cool. That's great. Now, lets talk about credit derivitives."

Obama's call for regaining our world leadership in human rights could not have been more clear. But it's only clear if the listener can somehow shake the Bush/Karen Hughes/Rovian legacy of robbing words of their meaning.

2) Forgetting what it means to be inspired. That's pretty easy to do when there's nothing to get inspired about. But I'd suggest that the road back to inspiration doesn't start with policy---it starts with the emotional engagement of poetry. The LAST thing I'd want Obama to do is rattle off a list of policies---on human rights (since---remember, that IS what YOUR post is about!) or anything else. From the poetry---comes the policies, the action, that WE build. Believe me. I'm unemployed, struggling to pay for health care, am in my extremely late forties, and am looking for work at the same time I'm writing a book about looking for work. And there are no jobs anymore. So I need policies for everyday life.

BUT I ALSO need to work for human rights to be at the very core of all that. Otherwise---it's a life without music. For ALL of us.

3) Final legacy of Bush is justhow much skin folks have in the game of conflict. Obama threatens conflict because his deal is to bring people together.. Because what he does is tap the emotional thread that runs through ALL the different religions, non-religions, regions, ethnicities, employed and unemployed. Nelson Algren once said that "Loving Chicago is like loving a woman with a broken nose."

Loving America is kind of like that too. Only more. That is OUR thread.

Yesterday, The CLOSED FOR BUSINESS sign was put on the door to the room where words robbed of meaning, where human rights is seen as an impractical ideal, where conflict is fun, and where poetry and music don't count.

Anybody who heard Beyonce do amazing justice to Etta James when she sang: "AT LAST. . ." will feel what I'm talking about.

That's really all it takes. Just listen to that song (or better yet---pull up the original). And you'll feel the change in human rights coming.

And for those who do not feel it---that's understandable. It's an awfully big change.

So for you who don't feel this, imagine a world where the real ideals of human rights have made that journey from poetry to policy and action. What song would be in your head?

If you can hear one---you are on your way!
ostephanie, just making another drive by, to read the comments and reaction you have gotten. They all have some great points. We do need to clean up our own house first.
stop back by on mine any time.
Thanks for the notice and other links Steph. You have worked hard on this and I truly appreciate your passion. I am breathing much easier now.......regardless of the bumps that will inevitably occur....
Stephanie. I so hope you're right. But if you're not, the best way this will ever come about is from internal pressure. This is not a time for the international community to become isolationist, economically, or politically. Let's see how much the blogosphere really can change the world.
I am heartened by the 120-day stay of all Gitmo trials, for sure.
I appreciate your passion for this subject, and though I haven’t always had time to comment on your posts, I love that you’re covering it so well. Thank you! I’m curious, too, and hopeful.

In addition to trolling the new White House website, I’ve peeked in on the State Department’s site and its blog pages – looking for hints of where we might be headed on this issue, and others. It’s funny – I know it’s too early for there to be anything substantive there, but I guess I can’t help myself; the excited feeling that comes from finally having, even the chance of a responsive government that shares my ideals is hard to control.
Ah yes the great united nations human rights causes. Unfortunately they are usually an opportunity to provide food and funding to the despots causing the human rights abuses in those countries. Unless you are advocating military action to overthrow those despots?
There is no question that the U.S. must take a lead role in the march for world wide human rights, rather than the back seat we seem to have crawled into (or the wagon with a broken axle). I agree with you on that score. Of course. And yet of the comments posted here, the one that meant to most sense to me was made by Dr. Dach. Of the points he made, each, in it's own fashion, would address the issue of civil rights here in our own country; because if attacked with credible energy, each of those issues would contribute to more discovery, more opportunity, more innovation, less greed, less corruption, and less energy devoted to the corporate and financial enslavement of U.S. citizens in particular, and mankind in general. It isn't a whole lotta extra words to say what Dr. Dach said; and no one was going anywhere. It isn't as though the crowd would have left the Mall if he'd had more to say... There was an awful lot of political rhetoric in Obama's speech, and each one of the issues Dr. Dach mentions (and more) should all be front row poster children for the renovation and renewal of the United States of America and the fabric of our worldwide society.

It's one thing to claim to be a champion for change, but another thing entirely to move past ephemeral words and address the nuts and bolts of what has to happen for REAL change to be seized and realized. As you know, human rights is more than a slogan or a sound byte, and the achievement of well being and equality for all people, black, red, yellow, white, and sky-blue-pink will require a process and an evolution of consciousness that includes far more than speeches and signing documents at some international trade fair on the human genome project. It's the nuts and bolts of that process that really matter. All the pretty words amount to nothing if they are not followed up by progressive action. Speeches are for politicians. Mr. Obama must prove he is more than that.
Does this make me a blogwhore John? Great post. Great inaugural speech.

I concur that this was not a speech to go into excessive detail about any kind of issue.

I will be pleased if we do our part, our job, and our role in cleaning up the toxic human rights spill that was the Bush Administration.

We can't fix the world. We won't even come near fixing situations that are so beyond repair that whole nations will be in turmoil until their problems get worked out.

But we can return to being the model for the rest of the world to use.
Agreed. Let's not expect miracles, but invest in the arduous process of building a model upon which the world can again rely upon and look to as a beacon of hope and opportunity.
Thanks for all your work in this area, o'steph
Many of us are hoping so. I just read that Obama is putting a freeze on all salaries in the White House, including his own. Another hopeful sign.
On the fly here, guys, in between classes and off to get some lunch. I look forward to reading all these comments and response. Thanks to you for coming by and getting your say about these momentous possibilities.
This is the first day that has dawned for us and we are not being misled by bush and crew. Wonderful!
( And someone criticized the UN to me! How I love to teach! )
Rated. Much to cover today.

Good work. Rated.
Though the camera angle didnt show it, I was certain Bush's placid face held at least a glimmer of understanding (a first?) that the line was meant for him.
Superb post, excellent comments. Very well done, everyone!
I have hope. It needs to start here. The Bill of Rights for Gitmo.

your long lyrical comment is worthy of its own post. and it makes real and cogent your call for a writers project like in the old days of the WPA.
1) Yes, the neocons did co-opt the language and it has suffered damage that remains. Hopefully, Obama's command of English will make some inroads. The people certainly respond to his inspirational speeches.
2) Yes, I found his promise to lead on this issue was inspirational. I am hoping that this will be followed, in time, by action as the HRW urged.
3) I LOVE that quote about Chicago. There is still much to love about Lady Liberty. Look at how hopeful the world is after bush's bad behavior.
And Etta. I did hear that. Of course, Etta did it best. I spent one whole summer running up library fines when I kept a tape from her and wore it out.
Thank you, Roger. You are a fine soul. I hope your unemployment ends soon. You have too good a mind to waste.
Michael, David,
Thanks so much for backing me up.

Yes, closing Gitmo is coming. I am hoping that we will be seeing a long list of wrongs, slowly righted, as Obama cleans up the mess that bush left. I am so glad that he really lambasted the past adminstration in his speech. Obama loves the truth.

I am unsure if they will bring those monsters to trial. It was universally desired on the Obama Briefing Book site.

You noticed that phrase too! The phrasing just struck me as being so close to HRW's language that I was thrilled.
You are a dear. Yes, it has been work but time well spent as it is my passion. And I loved waking up this morning with Obama in the White House.

WOW! You got it girl. I think that the new tendency for MSM to begin to approach the truth is directly because of the blogosphere. And, when Obama reopens the citizen input feature, this will only grow. When they spoke of how he might use his email list and internet contacts in a new way, I was hoping it would mean this. He knows that we need a concerned and engaged citizenry, and he is lending us his ear to give us motivation!
And a Hallelujah!

Verbal Remedy,
Yes, there is real hope now. Just today, Obama laid down the law for lobbyists. If they have worked in the government, they may not become lobbyists for as long as he is president! Obama is all about ethics. How righteous!

Thanks for the thumb man. I need that.

Thanks for the caps! I needed those too!

The UN is a force for good in the world as imperfect as it may be. We have seen how powerless military might can be. Time to try peace and diplomacy. Finally.
Man, I am so proud that I featured you! You have a fine mind and are so well spoken.
It is definitely cleaning day in the old US of A. Obama appears to be starting with ethics; he just destroyed any post-adminstration careers in lobbying by forbidding them while he was still president. Eight Years--can we hope?
The value in the UN conventions is their clear signal to the world of our intentions. Seeking a seat on the UN human rights council would be in the face of those who would destroy those rights. Both would be grand gestures.
Yes, Dr. Dach does have good points. (Those UN conventions would help groups in this country to seek rights too as well as those around the world.)
There is so damn much to do that it boggles the mind. Thank God, that Obama wanted this job.
Thanks, dynomyte. I appreciate you very much.
hi o'stephanie,
yes i think he is all about human rights. look what he is doing with gitmo??? i can't tell you how happy i am. i just wrote a post on his first day in office.:) the man has done more in 8 hours that bush did in 8 years.:) i am so happy... and hopeful:)
Jimmymac, M.A.H., hyblaean,
I appreciate you guys.

I don't know...our EX pres is not very intellectually curious". I'd like to think he will begin to have nightmares...

My favorite fan. Love you!

You are so right as others have said. Gitmo remains our worst ongoing violation of human rights. We do need to do this first.

Thanks. I'm just full of this stuff.

That is a good sign for sure. He also has anounced some very strict rules over lobbyists which effectively ends getting a cushy job after your stint in the government shoveling money to your friends.
Ethics. Smells fresh and clean!
David Decker,
Thanks, guy, for coming over.
You are so right! It is intoxicating to have this internet connection like never before!
Please share with us what you learn over there. Particularly want to know if they will bring back the issues book. Folks were asking for it back when they learned it would be closed on Sunday.
Thanks for your good comments. I perhaps love this writing more than any other. This is feel deeply.
Thanks for coming by. Breathing easier now...
I did see your post and am heading over there now that I have answered all my comments. School day today...
O you really need to open your eyes if you believe the UN is anything but another corrupt organization.

The world you negotiate with is one that is not as opposed to corruption and the violation of human rights as we are.

To them negotiation means we capitulate to their demands and they fail to live up to their promises.

If you consider submitting to the will of the many despots of the world a success then you will be very happy with the results that Obama will bring.
I certainly hope that Mr. Obama thinks like a Human and not a Politician when he addresses Human Rights which for the last decade has been a case of "Human Wrongs". On both sides of the divide.

A step in the right direction will be to for Mr. Obama to take steps to investigate whether or not Mr. Bush and company are guilty of abuse of power, gross negligence and war crimes and if the constitution of the United States has a provision to charge them or not.

Problem is that Mr. Obama will not see a second term in office if he does so......Every republican and his dog, cat and parrot along with his Hamster will be voting to keep Mr. Obama from seeing another term in office.

God Bless America for not allowing a President to sit more than two terms in office. Otherwise Bush would have been another President for life like Mubarak of Egypt, Bad-dafi of Libya and so on dishing out their sense of 'wisdom' and justice day after day after day, year after year after year until they are called upstairs by the Almighty.

Peace in the Middle east is achievable should Mr. Obama adopt a even handed attitude when dealing with the Israelis and Palestinians. Then again, he won't see another term in office if he dares upset the powers that be.

Observing the Carter of recent, leads me to believe that an American president has no option but to act like an American President which Carter had to do back then by following policy irrespective.

God, I hope that Obama's presidency is different!
Bearded One,
Greetings to you. I appreciate your posts and comments and am so glad that you are here to give us your perspective.
I quite agree that the US policy has stayed static through many administrations. Carter--as good a man as we have ever had--was especially hamstrung in this regard by the Iran hostage situation. The way Carter works for world peace is astounding.

Is so agree with your assessment that the key to the Middle East is the Palestine question. This is the center of the cancer. Obama is way smart and is bringing change. He does not tip his hand, so we really have no idea yet what he will do.

Hopefully, he will surprise us all. (And the repugnicans are fairly powerless right now but they are so addicted to power, they will try to storm the citidel. I watch with trepidation.)

Rated you yesterday a thumbs up.
Thanks for the thumb and comment, my friend.

Mr. Ed,
You have the benefit of my answer immediately post root canal but my mind is not numb.
I wonder where you came by your opinion on the UN. Mine was forged over a decades-long deep involvement in international relations of my own research and analytical skills, not fed to me by "commie" professors.
The UN, imperfect as it may be, is indispensible to the world conversation. Not a world government, it enshrines national soveriegnty. Any corruption which you see--notably the UN Human Rights council--is due to the spoiler nations who work to kill human rights globally. The best way to beat them is on the international stage through a direct face off on this council.

I think we need more than one Obama. Well, actually, we do have two........ I''m sure Michelle with play an active role, and neither of them will get much sleep!
Thanks for coming by.
We do need two of him. Luckily, he is surrounding himself with good folks who have no doubt who is in charge. If anyone can stay on top of issues, it is Obama.
Love having that gorgeous family in the White House.
Let's watch and see what happens - with guarded optimism.
Thanks for coming by! I actually think that at least one good thing a day will keep me optimistic. For too long, it has been one bad thing after another.
Yeah. That was one of the best lines in an inaugural address that will be mined for years regarding what was really said.
good post steph.
Thanks, Tim. The whole world was watching this speech for meanings for themselves.
GOD, it is so good to have a president who is well spoken! At last!