This report provides background information and a general overview of the role of human rights in U.S. foreign policy. It includes a discussion of some traditional arguments about how international human rights concerns might be integrated with other foreign policy factors. It also includes a discussion of the definition of human rights, of U.S. international obligations to promote human rights, and the apparatus and procedures available to the U.S. Government for implementing human rights policy. Particular attention is paid to congressional actions, not only in debating and holding hearings on human rights issues, but especially in enacting laws to assure that U.S. foreign policy formulation and practice include consideration of the status of human rights in other countries.
Following a review of such broad policy issues, this report treats specific human rights issues of current interest. Discussions of controversy over the selection of an Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs and of human rights policy at the international financial institutions are followed by reviews of U.S. human rights policy toward Argentina, El Salvador, Nicaragua, South Africa, and the Soviet Union.