Human Rights Policy

May 18, 1979

Report Outline
Carter's Record at Mid-Term
Foundations of Current Policy
Prospects for the Next Decade
Special Focus

Carter's Record at Mid-Term

Divided Opinion on Policy After 2 Years

More than halfway through the presidential term, Jimmy Carter's human rights program remains the center of controversy. Maligned by critics on both the right and left, and stoutly defended by the administration, the central question is whether the program is accomplishing the goals set out by Carter in his 1976 campaign, or whether it is counter-productive and harmful to American interests abroad.

Human rights supporters were buoyed by the release on April 26 of five leading Soviet dissidents, exchanged for two former Russian U.N. officials held in this country on espionage charges. The White House viewed the exchange a clear-cut justification of the president's efforts over the past two years. Moreover, the Kremlin's ire over Carter's human rights efforts has subsided sufficiently for it to agree to a new strategic arms limitation treaty with the United States — despite oft-heard comments in Washington at the outset of Carter's program that human rights would scuttle detente. Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and Carter plan to sign the treaty in Vienna, June 15.

But success on one front was accompanied by failure on another. Only a few days before the Soviet exchange, a news dispatch from Buenos Aires noted that U.S. diplomatic efforts had succeeded in freeing only two of the thousands of political prisoners held by the Argentine government. “Almost everyone familiar with the humanitarian effort, including State Department officials, U.S. diplomats in the field, members of Congress and human rights groups, agrees that the two-year parole program — approved almost a year ago — has been a failure thus far.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Human Rights
Nov. 01, 2013  Religious Repression
May 17, 2013  Assisted Suicide
Oct. 16, 2012  Human Trafficking and Slavery
Sep. 20, 2011  Saving Indigenous Peoples
Oct. 30, 2009  Human Rights Issues
Jul. 25, 2008  Human Rights in China
Mar. 26, 2004  Human Trafficking and Slavery
Apr. 30, 1999  Women and Human Rights
Nov. 13, 1998  Human Rights
Jul. 19, 1985  Human Rights in the 1980s
May 18, 1979  Human Rights Policy
Apr. 03, 1968  Human Rights Protection
Mar. 21, 1956  Forced Labor and Slavery
Apr. 27, 1949  Forced Labor
Jan. 25, 1945  Bills of Rights
Global Issues