Secretary of State Alters US Approach to Human Rights

Antony Blinken reverses some Trump administration policies
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 31, 2021 3:07 PM CDT
Secretary of State Alters US Approach to Human Rights
Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks about the release of the '2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices,' at the State Department in Washington, on Tuesday.   (Mandel Ngan)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken criticized Trump administration policies Tuesday in revealing the State Department's annual report on human rights, which was drafted under the previous administration. "Some have argued that it's not worth it for the US to speak up forcefully for human rights—or that we should highlight abuse only in select countries, and only in a way that directly advances our national interests," Blinken said, per the Guardian. "But those people miss the point," he said, noting the Biden administration would stand up for human rights "everywhere." Blinken noted global assessments of reproductive health access for women and girls, which the Trump administration scrubbed from the annual report, would be compiled this year "because women's rights—including sexual and reproductive rights—are human rights," per the New York Times.

Blinken also said he'd shut down an advisory committee set up under the previous administration to prioritize religious liberties and property rights. This represented "unbalanced views" as "there is no hierarchy that makes some rights more important than others," he said, per the AP. Critics argued the policy could allow for the persecution of LGBTQ people and the denial of a woman's right to health services. In another divergence, Blinken acknowledged "systemic racism" in the US, adding our "willingness to confront our own shortcomings" is "what separates our democracy from autocracies." He also referred to China's "genocide" of Uighurs, crackdowns on protesters in Hong Kong and Myanmar, and Russia's poisoning of Alexei Navalny. "The trend lines on human rights continue to move in the wrong direction," with some governments using the pandemic "as a pretext to restrict rights and consolidate authoritarian rule," he said. (More Biden administration stories.)

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