May 28, 2014

On March 28, 2014, US President Barack Obama delivered a speech on US foreign policy at the US Military Academy at West Point. Below is the reaction from Sarah Margon, Washington director at Human Rights Watch:

President Obama is endorsing the promotion of human rights in foreign policy, and his actions should match his words. There’s a lot of good rhetoric in this speech, but now the president needs to make sure that aid is not sent to abusive militaries, that Guantanamo is closed, and that US drone policy complies with international law.

Greater reliance on global cooperation and partnerships to combat terrorism is a positive development, especially if it signals a shift away from a counterterrorism strategy that relies on a targeted killing policy that violates international law.

With respect to support for partner nations, the newly announced $5 billion counterterrorism fund should not support corrupt, abusive security forces abroad. To achieve this vision, Obama needs to ensure that both US actions and its support for other governments promote, rather than undercut, respect for human rights.