Don't Sideline Human Rights

February 27, 2009

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made headlines last week when she removed human rights from the agenda of discussion topics with China.  In today’s USA Today, a Duke colleague of mine and a former researcher for Human Rights watch, Robin Kirk, explains why removing human rights from discussions simply isn’t possible if America wants to achieve its other diplomatic goals.
“Human rights aren’t a side dish on a crowded buffet,” wrote Kirk, director of the Duke Human Rights Center. “Human rights support and frame each of these other important issues. To overlook them is to court failure on the themes [Clinton] highlights.
“How, for instance, does Secretary Clinton plan to secure China’s support for economic reform? Along with the government, she needs people like Bao Tong, once a top Communist Party official who argues that economic health starts with political reform. For that, he spent seven years in prison and lives under virtual house arrest in Beijing.”

To read the article, click here.