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President-elect Joe Biden speaks in Wilmington, Delaware President-elect Joe Biden speaks in Wilmington, Delaware, Dec. 22, 2020. (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

Biden Has a Long Way to Go to Restore America’s Human Rights Reputation

Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020

As the world watches the chaotic countdown to a new president in Washington, one anticipated policy shift after Joe Biden’s inauguration is causing anxiety in some quarters and optimism in others: the return of human rights to the global agenda.

Donald Trump’s open disdain for human rights was one of the earliest signs that his presidency would look like no other in the White House. Defending human rights around the world has always required a complicated balancing act, often—though not always—with a tradeoff between American interests and values. Under Trump, values consistently took a back seat. The only time he brought up human rights abuses was when he thought he could extract a personal political benefit, as in the cases of Cuba and Venezuela, whose human rights violations remain a top concern for voters in the key electoral state of Florida. ...

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