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U.S. Department of State
96/12/12 Statement at Ceremony commemorating Human Rights Day
Office of the Spokesman


                             U.S. Department of State
                             Office of the Spokesman



______________________________________________________________
AS DELIVERED                                 December 12, 1996

                            STATEMENT BY
                SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
            AT A CEREMONY COMMEMORATING HUMAN RIGHTS DAY 



	Thank you very much.  I want to welcome you all here to the Ben 
Franklin Room.  I see many familiar faces around the room, many people 
that I ought to introduce,  and would like to, but I think you'll all 
understand if I introduce just one, and that is Senator Claiborne Pell, 
who's been such a champion of human rights all throughout his marvelous 
career, and who'll be leaving the government about the same time I will.  
Claiborne, thank you so much for coming.  As John said, we'll be hearing 
from Don Fraser in a few minutes; the legislation he co-sponsored with 
Senator Harkin established the State Department's human rights reports, 
and he is one of the fathers of this entire movement.  I'm going to be 
speaking a little bit more personally today than usual--perhaps that's 
one of the indicia of a soon-to-be-departed Secretary of State-but I 
hope you'll forgive it and understand it if I speak perhaps more 
personally than I customarily do.

	As John said, the early human rights reports were prepared under 
my direction as Deputy Secretary of State.  It was a very rudimentary 
effort at that time, compared to the rather sophisticated and precise 
reports now.  We were starting from scratch at that time, without any 
baseline, without any precedent.  The reports were either drafted or 
revised in my back room, and some of you have been around long enough to 
know that there was quite a struggle then.  Sometimes I would hear 
rather loud voices emanating from my back room, as those initial reports 
were struggled over and fought out.  But they did provide a baseline and 
a precedent that we've been able to use every year since then.  It was 
the right thing to do, and I think on the whole we did it right.  

	Now the reports are a well-established and very effective tool of 
our diplomacy.  I wanted to come today to honor four of our officers who 
have excelled in human rights reporting, and who will be introduced to 
you and honored just a little later.

	Taken together, these 20 years of human rights reports tell a very 
powerful story.  Many people live under democracy now, the President has 
said, more than at any other time in our history.  So many of the 
countries which were really sad chapters in those early human rights 
reports have graduated to the point where they are now firmly part of 
the democratic family.  It's a long list, fortunately, but just think of 
the some of the remarkable transformations:  Chile; Poland, I sat next 
to the Polish Foreign Minister in Brussels just last night, and we 
talked about democracy as it has come to Poland; the Philippines, where 
I was a few days ago, with a robust democracy and with so much progress 
all across the board; and South Africa, just to name a few of the places 
I've been in the year 1996.  Since that time, prisoners of conscience 
have become presidents and parliamentarians.  At this moment, as John 
has said, the people of Serbia are speaking the same words that ushered 
in freedom all throughout central Europe, and we can be proud that their 
voices have been broadcast over the Voice of America.

	As Secretary of State, I have insisted that our foreign policy be 
grounded in what are America's fundamental interests.  I have no doubt 
in my mind--I never have had any doubt--that defense of human rights is 
one of those fundamental American interests.  It's not peripheral, it's 
central, and I owe to John Shattuck, I think, just a word, that I 
believe he has done more than any other Assistant Secretary of State.  
Of course, we all build on the achievements of our predecessors, but I 
think John has done more than any of his predecessors in making human 
rights part of the mainstream of American foreign policy.  It's clear 
that if we want to protect our security, we have to oppose repressive 
practices that can produce ethnic conflicts and require us to intervene 
in a way we don't want to intervene but sometimes have to intervene.  If 
we want to compete in the global economy, one of the lessons that our 
businesses are learning is that business rights, just as individual 
rights, depend on the rule of law.  John has done some precedent-
breaking work here in enlisting American business, who now have come to 
understand the close nexus between human rights and rights that protect 
their interests.  If we want to defeat terrorism and drug trafficking, 
we need partners whose governments are accountable, where no one at all 
is above the law.  These are the points I have tried to make as I've 
traveled around the world in countries that are still struggling, and in 
speaking to young people in places like Vietnam and China and 
governments all around the world.  It is certainly the point President 
Clinton made so powerfully just two weeks ago when he said that 
political repression and drug trafficking in Burma are "two sides of the 
same coin."

	Of course, human rights is much more than a practical necessity, 
although it is certainly that.  It's an expression of the values we 
share with people of every culture and every faith.  It is a 
responsibility that comes with our leadership in the world, and a 
quality that strengthens our ability to lead as we carry out our 
commitment to human rights.

	As I look back on the wonderful four years I've had here in this 
marvelous job, two things stand out to me today as I look over this 
audience.  I will always remember the jubilant crowd in the streets of 
Port-au-Prince as I flew back there with President Aristide for the 
first time since he had been deposed, and looked out at the crowd from 
the balcony of his palace.  I'll also remember my visits to Sarajevo, 
seeing people walk with confidence past houses that were utterly 
shattered by bullets, being able to walk down streets where just a few 
months ago no one dared to venture. 

	These achievements are not just a source of temporary inspiration.  
They are lasting precedents.  In Haiti, for the very first time, we were 
able to assemble a coalition of nations from throughout this hemisphere 
to restore democracy in a country of this hemisphere.  In Bosnia, 
perhaps more than any other time in human history, human rights 
diplomacy played a crucial role in forging the peace treaty.  John 
Shattuck was a regular participant in the day and night sessions that we 
had in Dayton, Ohio.  John has played an indispensable role in his 
missions to investigate war crimes in the Balkans, just as he did at 
Dayton.  

	I believe that the establishment of the War Crimes Tribunals for 
Bosnia and for Rwanda will be seen as a lasting legacy of the 
President's first term in office.  I know that supporting them and 
trying to make them more effective will be a major goal of the 
President's second term.  Last week at the Bosnia Conference in London, 
we were able to fashion a consensus that our economic aid would be tied 
to the human rights performance of the countries that are involved in 
Bosnia.  Bringing war criminals to justice is at the very foundation of 
the peace process.  We are right now seeking new and effective means to 
make more effective the work of the War Crimes Tribunals.   I'm not 
satisfied--we're not satisfied--with the way it's working, but think of 
how far we've come.  Think of how unusual the whole development of these 
tribunals would have been regarded only a decade ago.  We're breaking 
new ground here, and if it seems frustrating to you, it is to an extent 
to me, but it is always that way as you go through one of these 
evolutions and create new international institutions.  

	The United States has continued to be the world's leading voice 
for political freedom in nations where it has been denied.  The 
promotion of human rights was front and center in all of my talks with 
the Chinese leader in Beijing two weeks ago.  We are, to take another 
example, continuing to sustain our insistence on democratic rule in 
Cuba.  We have stood with, and will continue to stand with, the 
principled opposition to dictatorship in Burma and Nigeria and around 
the world as a whole.  We approach this work with persistence and 
patience, but not with pessimism.  In the long view of history, we're 
making real progress, and I think we can as long as we stick to our 
ideals and we remember American values.

	Dramatic change doesn't always come as quickly as we'd like.  It's 
a long-term effort.  There is no single formula, no single combination 
of engagement and isolation, dialogue and condemnation.  You have to 
find the formula that works the best in any given case.  But change 
often comes at unexpected times to unexpected places; who would have 
thought that democracy would be so well embedded today in places like 
Mali and Mongolia?  Who would have thought that Romania would have come 
as far as it did?  I sat next yesterday evening as well to a new 
representative of the non-Communist, democratically elected government 
in Romania, and once again rejoiced at unexpectedly good news.  
Sometimes we wonder about our influence, whether we have any, but as we 
look back with the clear light of hindsight, I think we can see that if 
we work at it with persistence and patience, we will have an influence.  
The United States is still looked to around the world as the beacon of 
freedom, and what we say means a great deal.  What America says and does 
always matters.

	The going is still hard, as John and Tim so correctly said.  The 
real heroes of this are the people in countries where rights are still 
denied.  I spent some time this afternoon with Dr. Rugova, from Kosovo, 
the leader of the Albanians there.  I have great respect for his 
patience and his dignity and the way he has pursued goals under the most 
difficult circumstances.

I want to assure you that President Clinton is determined to keep 
America on the side of democracy and the side of human rights around the 
world.  I hardly need to tell this audience that my colleague Ambassador 
Albright is and will be an eloquent champion of values and interests as 
she takes over as my successor.  She has been at the United Nations, and 
she'll have an even broader platform as Secretary of State.  With the 
President's determination and with her leadership, I think that we'll 
have hopeful experiences in the next four years, as we have had in 
Bosnia and Haiti this time around.  I know that our nation will be well 
served, and our principles will be advanced, with Ambassador Albright at 
the helm.  I leave with a wonderful sense of confidence in Madeleine and 
in people like Tim Wirth and John Shattuck.  We're moving ahead.

But I want to say to all of you in the room--I see a number of people 
whom I know are involved importantly in NGO organizations-that we 
understand that it is you who in many instances have kept this movement 
going.  It is you who have inspired us, and even at the right moment 
pressured us, to make sure that human rights is always on our agenda.  
So I pay tribute to each of you.  I pay tribute to what you've done.  
And now, in a moment, we'll have an opportunity to pay tribute to some 
of the officers in the State Department who have been so effective in 
this endeavor.  Thank you all very much.

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