THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION: PROMOTING HUMAN RIGHTS December 6, 2000
Promoting human rights at home and abroad has been a central policy objective of the Clinton Administration. President Clinton's leadership has contributed to the growth of democracy and human rights worldwide.
The Clinton Administration:
Led the successful international effort to create the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Issued an Executive Order strengthening implementation of human rights treaties, signed into law the Torture Victims Relief Act, and substantially increased our annual contribution to the United Nations fund for torture victims.
Helped secure China's signature of the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and vigorously pressed for progress on prisoner releases, political rights, religious freedom and the rule of law in the PRC.
Cosponsored resolutions at the United Nations Human Rights Commission calling on China, Cuba, Russia, Sudan, Iran, Iraq and the countries of the former Yugoslavia, among others, to improve human rights practices.
Advancing Democracy Worldwide
Led effort on the Dayton Agreement to end the war in Bosnia, led a successful multilateral effort to reverse the "ethnic cleansing" in Kosovo, and successfully aided the Serbian democratic movement in bringing an end to the regime of Slobodan Milosevic.
Pressed for and consistently supported the democratic transition in Indonesia, as well as East Timor's historic move toward independence. Led an international coalition to restore the elected Government of Haiti and promoted free and fair elections throughout the Americas where every country but one -- Cuba -- is now democratic.
Supported peace and the disarmament processes, provided support for free and fair elections, and gave critical assistance to historic democratic transformations.
Continues to aid democracy advocates and pressure authoritarian governments around the world.
Co-founded the Community of Democracies, a global alliance of democratic nations.
Bringing War Criminals to Justice
Led the effort to establish and is the biggest contributor to the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
Appointed the first Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues and established an early warning system to focus intelligence resources on and alert policy makers to situations that could potentially lead to genocide or mass atrocities.
Supporting Labor Rights and the Most Vulnerable Victims of Abuses
Worked with corporations and non-governmental organizations through the "No Sweat Initiative" to develop voluntary ethical codes of conduct to prevent the importation of products made in sweatshop conditions.
Worked to combat child labor by contributing $30 million annually to the International Labor Organization's International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor.
Signed and ratified the International Labor Organization Convention on the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor in December 1999. President Clinton signed the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Combat in June 2000.
Led a concerted effort to combat trafficking in women and children. Proposed and successfully negotiated a UN protocol to combat trafficking in persons, to be signed next week, which, for the first time, will require countries to criminalize trafficking and will provide a framework for enhanced protection of and assistance to victims. The President also signed into law the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000.
Promoting Religious Freedom Abroad
Made religious freedom an integral part of its foreign policy, including by appointing the first-ever Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom Abroad.
Signed the International Religious Freedom Act, codifying many of the additional steps the Clinton Administration had taken on religious freedom, including the appointment the first Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.
Expanded reporting on the religious freedom in every country and designated Afghanistan, Burma, China, Iran, Iraq, Sudan and the Milosevic regime in Serbia as countries of particular concern for having engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom.
Assisted international refugees by reforming the asylum adjudication process, resulting in more expeditious granting of meritorious claims and fewer fraudulent ones.
Advocated immigration legislation that addressed the circumstances of asylum seekers with longstanding ties to the United States from Central America (Nicaraguan and Central American Relief Act of 1997) and Haiti (Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act of 1998), and then promulgated regulations to ameliorate disparities among nationalities covered by NCARA.
Issued new guidelines for the adjudication of asylum claims by women and children and adopted comprehensive procedures to claimants from being returned to face torture. In addition, the United States has enhanced the rescue component of its refugee resettlement program, including increased resettlement efforts for refugees from Africa and the Near East, and continues to be the world's most generous haven for refugees.
Promoting Human Rights at Home
Fought for and won passage of the Hate Crimes Sentencing Enhancement Act, which proposed to increase penalties for hate crime as part of the 1994 Crime Bill.
Worked to end racial profiling by directing cabinet agencies to collect data on the race, ethnicity and gender of individuals subject to certain stops by federal law enforcement to help determine where and when racial profiling occurs.
Signed into law in 1994 the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), landmark legislation to combat violence against women, and this year, worked closely with Congress to reauthorize it.
Fought to protect the rights of all Americans, increasing funding for civil rights enforcement from $47 million in 1992 to $82 million in 2000.
Ordered a comprehensive review of federal affirmative action programs, which concluded that affirmative action is still an effective and important tool to expand educational and economic opportunity to all Americans.
Focused the nation's attention and resources to help stop the rash of church burnings across the country, creating the National Church Arson Task Force in 1995 to investigate these crimes, prosecute those responsible and speed the rebuilding process.
Took action to ensure fairness and equal participation in American society for legal immigrants. In 1997 and 1998, restored disability, health and nutritional benefits for certain legal immigrants.
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