Center for American Progress Action

: Human Rights and the 2008 Presidential Campaign
Past Event

Human Rights and the 2008 Presidential Campaign

12:30 - 2:00 PM EST

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Human rights issues have rarely, if ever, been a principal focus of political campaigns for president or even for Congress.  Over the past few years, however, human rights questions have played a more and more central role in how the United States is perceived around the world.  One of the rationales cited by President Bush for the war in Iraq, for example, was the need to establish a democratic state in the heart of the Middle East.  The “unsigning” of the treaty establishing the International Criminal Court; the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; the denial of habeas corpus to certain prisoners; revelations regarding U.S. use of torture—all these have colored the attitude of the international community toward America and thereby implicated U.S. national interests quite directly.  Moreover, the continuing saga of unstaunched death and destruction in Darfur, Sudan, has cast a pall over the reputation of every country that has failed to stop it. 

Given the relationship, then, of human rights controversies to U.S. policy and interests—the fact, for example, that how the world regards this country can have a very direct impact upon America’s national security and the need, in light of Iraq and Darfur, to clarify when in the future the United States should commit its blood and treasure to countering regimes that abuse human rights—one might assume that human rights would have been more central to the 2008 presidential campaigns to this point than in years past. 

The Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAPAF) has tracked the percentage of times candidates for president were asked questions about human rights in the presidential debates to this point in the campaign and has sought to ascertain the positions of all active candidates on seven key human rights questions.  The results of those studies will be released at a panel discussion moderated by CAPAF Senior Fellow William Schulz and including Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post, Gary Haugen of the International Justice Mission, and other commentators on human rights, politics, and the media today.

This event is co-sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania Press.