The United States and Human Rights: Looking Inward and Outward

The United States and Human Rights: Looking Inward and Outward

The United States and Human Rights: Looking Inward and Outward

The United States and Human Rights: Looking Inward and Outward


The United States and Human Rights addresses the place of human rights in U.S. policy, both domestic and foreign. The contributors are leading analysts of international human rights, some having considerable experience working with human rights organizations and others providing expertise from such fields as law, developmental anthropology, political science, and public diplomacy.

The first part of the book deals with human rights issues in American society. The contributors focus on how international human rights standards could improve American society in several areas, including health care, the labor force, and refugee and immigration affairs. Other essays analyze why the United States has been hesitant to ratify human rights treaties. The second part of the book deals with human rights issues in American foreign policy, considering both stated ideals and the practical application of those ideals. Of particular interest are the impact of public opinion on humanitarian assistance and supportfor democracy abroad, and how the persistent issue of universal human rights affects U.S. relations with the United Nations, human rights organizations, indigenous peoples, and particular countries.


David P. Forsythe

The Fifteenth Hendricks Symposium sponsored by the Political Science Department at the University of Nebraska--Lincoln was made possible by the generosity of an alumnus of the university. Mr. G. E. Hendricks had a lively interest in American politics and became especially concerned about the limitation of public discussion in this country at the start of the Cold War. Therefore, from 1949 to 1957 he gave the University of Nebraska Foundation a substantial sum of money to be used to deal with "current controversial political questions in a non-partisan, unbiased manner."

The Political Science Department chose to focus the fifteenth in this series of discussions on the United States and internationally recognized human rights. This is certainly a current and controversial topic. Americans are now once again debating with considerable vigor such topics as whether health care should be guaranteed by the state as a fundamental human right and whether the death penalty should be an appropriate penalty for common crime, especially when committed by the young or the mentally impaired. Americans, through their elected officials in Washington, must also confront controversial human rights issues in foreign policy, such as whether the United States is obligated to act to stop genocide in foreign countries.

The department assembled a group of especially talented people in September of 1996 to address human rights issues as they appeared in both U.S. domestic and foreign policy. Our participants included political scientists and lawyers. Two ambassadors also took part in our discussions. a number of people wore both an "academic" and a "practical" hat, as some participants represented an intergovernmental or nongovernmental organization as well as an academic discipline. the result was a stimulating meeting that led to this volume.

We are especially grateful to Ryan Hendrickson, then a doctoral candidate in our graduate program, who ably served as the conference coordinator. He was backed up by our excellent support staff of Jan Edwards, Monica Merry Mason, and Helen Sexton. Barbara Ann J. Rieffer, while a work-study student for the department, helped in numerous ways, including editing several of the revised chapters. a number of departmental members also participated in the meeting, including William Avery, Michael Combs, Philip Dyer . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.