In a speech given this Monday at Georgetown University, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outlined the human rights agenda of the Obama administration for the 21st century. Clinton said that as we commemorate the 61st anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we must look to the document itself as a “standard for achievement.” The Secretary went on to say:
“Our human rights agenda for the 21st century is to make human rights a human reality…people must be free from the oppression of tyranny, from torture, from discrimination, from the fear of leaders who will imprison of “disappear” them. But they also must be free from the oppression of want -want of food, want of health, want of education, and want of equality in law and in fact.”
Clinton said that human rights, democracy, and development must be pursued simultaneously, as part of one agenda. In an effort to advance a comprehensive agenda of human rights, the Secretary of State said that we must highlight and recognize the achievements of human rights activists around the world:
“We can amplify the voices of activists and advocates working on these issues by shining a spotlight on their progress. They often pursue their mission in isolation, often so marginalized within their own societies And we can endorse the legitimacy of their efforts…we can applaud Vital Voices, the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights, and the Lantos Foundation, that do the same.”
Secretary Clinton went on to insist that “we have to remain focused on women -women’s rights, women’s roles, and women’s responsibilities.” Recalling her words at the historic Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995 – “human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights”- Clinton said “I wish it could be so easily translated into action and changes.” Though there remains much to be accomplished regarding gender equality internationally, Secretary Clinton said that she and the Obama administration will work towards the full extension of human rights for all.