Biden says United States will stand up for human rights around the world when they are oppressed

U.S. President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Wednesday delivered his first address to Congress, asserting that it is the responsibility of the United States to speak up for human rights and democratic values where they are oppressed.

The president promised, “America won’t back away from our commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

Referring to a call that he had with President Xi of China, Biden asserted that he “made absolutely clear that [he] will defend American interests across the board.”

While the president spoke about human rights violations specifically in China, there are many humanitarian concerns and crises in other parts of the world that also warrant addressing, such as in Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and many regions of Africa.

Mr. Biden asserted that as President, it is his duty to ensure that the United States stands up for human rights abroad, saying, “No responsible American president can remain silent when basic human rights are violated. A president has to represent the essence of our country.”

Alluding to the American founding fathers’ model of God-given unalienable rights, Biden said, “We are all created equal. It’s who we are. We cannot walk away from that principle.”

From an international policy perspective, this reality means that the United States ought not walk away from those that are vulnerable and in need of assistance or aid.

With Thursday marking the 100th day of Biden’s presidency, there is still much time left in his term and many more decisions to be made. As the United States draws closer to the resolution of the coronavirus pandemic, foreign policy will likely become an even more pressing issue for the administration and the president’s handling of humanitarian crises and human rights abuses around the world will have incredible implications for countless lives.

If the United States is to truly stand up for justice around the world, the responsibility of taking the practical steps necessary to follow through on Biden’s promises and rhetoric falls on the President and his administration.

Noah Pitcher is a global politics correspondent for Today News Africa covering the U.S. government, United Nations, African Union, and other actors involved in international developments, political controversies, and humanitarian issues.

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