“A hypocrite despises those whom he deceives, but has no respect for himself. He would make a dupe of himself too, if he could.”
~William Hazlitt, English essayist and social critic (1778-1830)
By Alden L. Benton
Yesterday in Part 1 of this post, I defined the rule of law and hypocrisy. In this post I will discuss human rights and the role the United States plays in helping to secure those basic, “inalienable” rights for all people.
Securing and protecting these rights has been the mission of the United States for 236 years. These rights were stated clearly, and eloquently, in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The second clause of the Preamble of the Charter of the United Nations states one of the underlying principles of the United Nations: “…to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small.” By signing the charter and becoming a member of the United Nations, the charter demands certain behavior and responsibilities.
While the United Nations has generally failed in its attempts to improve human rights in most nations, however, the principles of the charter regarding human rights are sound.
Contrary to what the political Left, and other enemies of the United States, would have you believe, the U.S. is an active participant in the international effort to secure what the Universal Declaration of Human Rights calls “the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family.”
The United States, according to a Cornell University Law School Legal Information Institute Human Rights Overview, “is both party to international agreements and has enacted its own human rights guarantees.”
The Constitution of the United States guarantees basic freedoms, such as equal protection under the laws, to all United States citizens (Amendment XIV). Additionally, the United States has passed legislation further protecting the human rights of its citizens. A good example is civil rights legislation (Title 42, Chapter 21 of the U.S. Code). The United States is also bound by treaty obligations. It has ratified the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, is a member of the United Nations, and has signed and/or ratified other human rights agreements.
Despite the efforts of the United States and the United Nations, human rights violations are persistent in many regions of the world. One issue, the issue of child soldiers is still prevalent. According to the UNICEF Fact Sheet: Child Soldiers,
It is estimated that some 300,000 children – boys and girls under the age of 18 – are today involved in more than 30 conflicts worldwide. Children are used as combatants, messengers, porters and cooks and for forced sexual services. Some are abducted or forcibly recruited, others are driven to join by poverty, abuse and discrimination, or to seek revenge for violence enacted against them or their families.
On October 3, 2008, President George W. Bush signed into law The Child Soldier Prevention Act of 2008 (CSPA).
According to a blog featured on the October 13 edition of Red State,
The CSPA prohibits countries that use child soldiers in their armed forces from receiving U.S. military aid. The CSPA allows the president to issue sanction waivers if he makes a good faith determination that a waiver is in the national interest of the United States. In order for the sanction waivers to be legal, the President must provide a written justification for each waiver and report on the progress each of the past waiver recipients have made in demobilizing child soldiers from their armed forces.
During debate on the CSPA, World Vision said,
U.S. military assistance should not go to finance the use and exploitation of children in armed conflict. Such practices directly contravene U.S. policy, practice, and international agreements that the United States has ratified. It is also in our own national security interest to reduce the incidence of child soldiers in the world: our commanders do not want U.S. troops to confront the specter of an armed child in a combat situation.
The enforcement of CSPA is the responsibility of the president. In Part 3, I will examine how President Obama has dealt with the issue of child soldiers and the requirements of the CSPA.
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