Foreign Policy Newsletter of May 25, 2012
What is a Foreign Policy Newsletter?Our Foreign Policy Newsletter is a digest of this week major statements by U.S. public officials on the Foreign Policy issues of the moment.
2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices Released
“This has been an especially tumultuous and momentous year for everyone involved in the cause of human rights,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says on the release of the 2011 Human Rights Report (May 24)
We will support people everywhere who seek the same. Men and women who want to speak, worship, associate, love the way they choose – we will defend their rights; not just on the day we issue these reports, but every day.
As Secretary, I have worked with my superb team on advancing human rights in a 21st century landscape, focusing on new frontiers even as we stand up against age-old abuses. Where women have been and continue to be marginalized, we’re helping them become full partners in their governments and economies. Where LGBT people are mistreated and discriminated against, we’re working to bring them into full participation in their societies. We’re expanding access to technology and defending internet freedom because people deserve the same rights online as off. And we know that in the 21st century human rights are not only a question of civil and political liberties, it’s about the fundamental question of whether people everywhere have the chance to make the most of their God-given potential.
The main human rights problems in Belgium were significant overcrowding of the prisons and discrimination against racial and religious minorities in the labor market. In July the ban against the wearing of full-face veils in public places (commonly referred to as the “burqa ban”) went into effect nationwide.
Other human rights problems included violence against women, child abuse, and trafficking in persons.
Belgium actively prosecuted and punished officials who committed abuses, whether in the security services or elsewhere in the government, and no cases of impunity were reported.
It was a year of significant change in the Middle East and North Africa as citizens stood up and demanded universal rights, dignity, greater economic opportunity, and increased political participation. Those demonstrations sent aftershocks rumbling around the world.
[...] Unfortunately, 2011 witnessed negative developments as well. A number of countries became less free as a result of flawed elections; restrictions on the universal rights to freedom of expression, assembly, or association, including on the Internet; moves to censor or intimidate the media; or attempts to control or curtail the activities of nongovernmental groups. Other disturbing trends include an increase in anti-Semitism, and continued persecution of other religious minorities, including Ahmadis, Baha’is, Tibetan Buddhists, Christians, Jews, and others. In many countries there was an increase in abuse, discrimination, and violence against members of racial and ethnic minorities; people with disabilities; and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.
Introduction to 2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices | | 2011 Country Reports on Human Rights: Europe Highlights (24-05-2012) | 2011 Country Reports on Human Rights: Near East Highlights (24-05-2012) | 2011 Country Reports on Human Rights: South and Central Asia Highlights (24-05-2012) | 2011 Country Reports on Human Rights: Africa Highlights (24-05-2012)
This is not to say that there aren’t differences between us, just as there are debates within the United States or the European Union. But the reality is that we have developed a common transatlantic agenda that enables us to join forces to meet the demands of a very challenging world to a degree that I don’t think was paralleled, not just in recent times in the previous administration, but the one before that or the several that preceded that. And this unity of purpose, I think, is now recognized on both sides of the Atlantic."
[...] Within the NATO context, let me say a couple of words about Libya. It is easy to take for granted the role that NATO played in giving the people of Libya a chance for a better future, but it was not a given that NATO would play a significant role or indeed any role at all. It was a conscious decision.
[...] United States flew 25 percent of all sorties, while France and the United Kingdom together accounted for 40 percent. But, again, I want to underscore the genuinely important role that European allies played in this, not just France and the United Kingdom, but Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Italy, and Canada all carried out large numbers of strike missions and sustained them over many months.
“This recognition prompted President Obama and European Presidents Barroso and Van Rompuy, to create the High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth last November. Our leaders tasked Commissioner Karel De Gucht and myself to examine, with an unprecedented degree of rigor and cooperation, all of the available options for increasing our economic growth, jobs, and international competitiveness. U.S. Looks for Most Effective Way to Expand Trans-Atlantic Trade
As Secretary Clinton has said, “the real choice is between reform and unrest” with reform being the only realistic path toward inclusive economic growth. With the OECD and other partners, the United States is strongly committed to assisting transitioning countries in advancing economic and political reforms necessary to generate growth and stability across the region. G8 Launches Programs to Help Five Transitioning Arab Countries
“International security and homeland security are inextricably linked”: Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano is consulting with her counterparts in Germany, Israel and Jordan May 18–23 on counterterrorism and other international security efforts. (May 21)
Napolitano traveled to Munich, Germany, on May 18 to join U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and her international counterparts at the G6+1 Conference of Home Affairs Ministers to discuss efforts to combat terrorism and international piracy, and ensure a more safe, secure and resilient global supply chain. The G6+1 includes representatives from France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, and the United Kingdom (G6) as well as the United States.
[...] Last month, the European Parliament ratified the Passenger Name Record (PNR) agreement between the United States and the European Union. PNR is an indispensible tool in terrorism prevention efforts, the Department of Homeland Security says; PNR data has aided nearly every high-profile U.S. terrorist investigation in recent years, including those for New York City subway bomber Najibullah Zazi, Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad, and David Headley, who was involved in the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack and was planning attacks in Europe .
As President, one of my top foreign policy priorities has been to strengthen our alliances, including NATO, and that's exactly what we’ve done. Two years ago in Lisbon, we took action in several areas that are critical to the future of our alliance and we pledged that in Chicago we would do more. Over the last two days, we have delivered.
[...] First, we reached agreement on a series of steps to strengthen the alliance’s defense capabilities over the next decade.
[...] We’re moving forward with missile defense, and agreed that NATO is declaring an interim capability for the system. America’s contribution to this effort will be a phased adaptive approach that we’re pursuing on European missile defense.
[...] Second, we’re now unified behind a plan to responsibly wind down the war in Afghanistan, a plan that trains Afghan security forces, transitions to the Afghans and builds a partnership that can endure after our combat mission in Afghanistan ends.
[...] Finally, NATO agreed to deepen its cooperation with partners that have been critical to alliance operations, as in Afghanistan and Libya. Today’s meeting was unprecedented, Our 28 allies, joined by 13 nations from around the world -- Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Asia. Each of these countries has contributed to NATO operations in different ways -- military, political, financial -- and each wants to see us do more together. To see the breadth of those countries represented in that room is to see how NATO has truly become a hub of global security. NATO Defense, Afghanistan Withdrawal Are Key Summit Issues
The possibility of NATO membership has proven to be a powerful motivation for countries to implement difficult but necessary reforms, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
At the North Atlantic Council Meeting (May 21)
We’re meeting today to reaffirm our commitment to NATO’s open door policy. The possibility of NATO membership has proven to be a powerful motivation for countries to implement difficult but necessary reforms, resolve internal differences as well as differences with their neighbors, and contribute to security operations that benefit themselves and all of us. Our open door policy has produced some of our most active and committed allies, and it has helped produce stability and cooperation in Central and Eastern Europe. And more broadly as NATO has grown, Europe has become more secure and more prosperous.
As all the leaders here today agreed, growth and jobs must be our top priority. A stable, growing European economy is in everybody’s best interests -- including America’s. Europe is our largest economic partner. Put simply, if a company is forced to cut back in Paris or Madrid, that might mean less business for manufacturers in Pittsburgh or Milwaukee. And that might mean a tougher time for families and communities that depend on that business.
And that’s why, even as we’ve confronted our own economic challenges over the past few years, we’ve collaborated closely with our European allies and partners as they’ve confronted theirs. And today, we discussed ways they can promote growth and job creation right now, while still carrying out reforms necessary to stabilize and strengthen their economies for the future.