News Release

Critics Question Human Rights Standards


WASHINGTON — While many applaud statements by President Clinton in China specifically citing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, analysts associated with the Institute for Public Accuracy are raising questions about selective adherence to the Declaration’s provisions.

Among those available for comment are:

Mittal, policy director at the Institute for Food and Development Policy – Food First, noted that Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for [their] health and well-being” — including “food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services.” Mittal commented: “Today, as the U.S. integrates the language of ‘human rights’ into international diplomacy and politics, the focus is narrowly on political and civil rights. It continues to spurn half of the rights guaranteed by the Declaration — social and economic human rights. In 1996 at the Habitat Conference in Istanbul, the U.S. was alone in rejecting the right to housing, and the same year at the World Food Summit in Rome, in refusing the right to food.”

Coordinator of the Economic Human Rights Campaign Documentation Project, which is organizing a rally outside the U.N. today, Butts said: “On the 50th Anniversary Year of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, we took a New Freedom Bus to over 40 poor communities across the country in June, and participated in locally organized human rights tribunals. We are witnessing a rising tide of domestic human rights abuses in the wake of welfare reform’ … While this nation’s leadership criticizes human rights violations abroad, we have collected documentation from throughout this country — story after horrifying story — that demands that human rights be addressed right in our own backyard.”

A professor of International Law at the University of Illinois College of Law who has worked extensively on human rights cases in the U.S., Boyle said: “Clinton has urged China to sign the international covenants on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and on Civil and Political Rights. The U.S. signed the ESC, but did not ratify it. As for the Civil and Political covenant, the U.S. Senate attached many conditions to our ratification for the express purpose of rendering that ratification meaningless.”

An attorney on various political and death penalty cases, Weinglass said: “It’s kind of ironic that the man who signed a law speeding up death penalty cases and undermining habeas corpus goes lecturing anyone on human rights. This former professor of constitutional law has signed into law more violations of human rights than any recent president. There’s a contempt for the First Amendment: Clinton signed the communications ‘decency’ act — which was struck down 9-0 by a conservative Supreme Court — warrant-less searches for welfare recipients, and roving government wiretaps … We actually have a higher incarceration rate than China.”

For more information, contact Theresa Caldwell or Sam Husseini at the Institute for Public Accuracy, (202) 347-0020.