Frank Jannuzi serves as Deputy Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, and head of the Washington, D.C. office. Frank is an international affairs policy and political expert who most recently served Chairman John Kerry as Policy Director for East Asian and Pacific Affairs for the Democratic staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. His Senate service included work on human rights legislation (JADE Act on Burma, North Korea Human Rights Act, Tibet Policy Act) as well as field investigations into human rights and security conditions in numerous East Asian hotspots, including China (especially Tibet), Burma, Cambodia, Southern Thailand, Vietnam, Mindanao, and North Korea.
Prior to joining the staff of the SFRC, Mr. Jannuzi worked as the East Asia regional political-military analyst for the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), U.S. Department of State. His portfolio at INR included China’s defense modernization, the Korean Peninsula, insurgencies and civil wars in Southeast Asia, and territorial disputes in the South China Sea and Kuril Islands. In 1990, he worked as a refugee officer on the Thai-Cambodia border, and returned as an electoral officer for Cambodia’s UN-run elections in May, 1993. Mr. Jannuzi was the founding editor-in-chief of Peacekeeping Perspectives, the State Department’s classified journal on multilateral peacekeeping and humanitarian operations. Mr. Jannuzi holds a BA in history from Yale University and a MPP with a concentration in international affairs and security from the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. In 2006, He conducted an International Affairs Fellowship in Japan, sponsored by Hitachi, Ltd., at the Institute for International Policy Studies and Keio University. He lives in Baltimore with his wife, Dr. Jennifer Martin, and their daughters Zoe and Camille.
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The G20 summit is expected to be dominated by the issue of military action in Syria, but President Obama and other world leaders would also do well to focus on human rights abuses going on in Russia (Photo by Anton Denisov/Host Photo Agency via Getty Images).
President Barack Obama has an important opportunity he should not pass up.
Fortunately, this is not a partisan issue. A group of prominent United States Senators – Democrat and Republican – have asked President Obama to speak out against Vladimir Putin’s repression of freedom of expression and assembly and other human rights.
President Truong Tan Sang is only the second Vietnamese president invited to the White House since the normalization of ties between the former war foes (Photo Credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images).
President Truong Tan Sang of Vietnam visited the United States this week to meet with President Obama. At lunch Wednesday with Secretary of State John Kerry, he expressed his desire that Hanoi and Washington deepen their economic and security ties.
The United States and Vietnam have come a long way since the end of the Vietnam War, but President Sang should realize that absent significant progress on human rights, his hopes for building a closer relationship with Washington may be dashed. Popular and congressional support in the United States for forging a strategic partnership with Vietnam will hinge, in large measure, on whether the Vietnamese government demonstrates a deeper commitment to freedom of expression, freedom of religion and justice.
Russia’s crackdown is not just about silencing opponents at the political fringes. It is about stifling all who would question his consolidation of power (Photo Credit: Mikhail Klimentye/AFP/Getty Images).
New controls over the media are being used to smear government critics and bolster the government’s policy line. Authorities use secret detention facilities and torture, especially in the North Caucuses region, to silence critics and deny them access to counsel. These measures are widespread and systematic.
This crackdown,should be a matter of grave concern to the United States. Moscow’s lack of respect for human rights speaks volumes about its reliability as a potential partner to the United States and Europe in addressing pressing international security concerns, from the conflict in Syria to the danger of nuclear proliferation.
US President Barack Obama and Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping last met in February. When they meet again this week, they should not shy away from the topic of human rights (Photo Credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images).
As President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping of China begin discussions designed to forge closer personal bonds between the two nations, they should not shy away from uncomfortable topics.
President Xi says he wants a “new type” of great power relationship with the United States. President Obama says he welcomes China’s peaceful rise, provided that it occurs in a way that reinforces international norms and enhances security.These statements suggest that neither leader is comfortable with the relationship as it stands, and both are seeking greater clarity and trust.
The warm White House reception, combined with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s call for the suspension of sanctions on imports from Myanmar, gave President Thein Sein a big boost. Did he deserve it? (Photo Credit: Shawn Thew, Pool/Getty Images).
President Obama welcomed Myanmar President Thein Sein to the White House this week, hailing what he called “steady progress” being made on economic and political reforms. President Obama also reminded Myanmar’s leader that many challenges remain to be addressed, including ethnic strife, rampant corruption, and the continued detention of political prisoners.
The warm White House reception, combined with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s call for the suspension of sanctions on imports from Myanmar, gave President Thein Sein a big boost.
In collaboration with special guest Svetlana Reiter, a Russian journalist who has been reporting on the demonstrations.
A year ago, on the eve of President Putin’s inauguration, the world watched demonstrators prepare to rally in Bolotnaya Square and wondered if the Snow Revolution born during Russia’s “winter of discontent” would bring about real changes in the Russian government‘s approach to human rights and civil society.
Change has come, but not the changes the protesters desired.
In response to calls for openness, transparency, and freedom of expression, the Russian government clamped down hard on dissent. From beating protesters to banning demonstrations, to requiring non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to wear a “foreign agent” scarlet letter, to restricting freedom of speech in the name of national security, President Putin and his siloviki cronies are creating a culture of fear and repression with assistance from a mostly-compliant Duma.
At the local level, Americans are demonstrating a strong commitment to advancing human rights. In recent elections, voters legalized marriage equality in nine states and passed the DREAM Act to expand educational opportunities for undocumented residents in Maryland. In addition, legislators in four states abolished the death penalty. The message to the nation’s leaders seems to be this: human rights still matter, and the task of “perfecting our union” remains incomplete.
As President Obama prepares to give his second inaugural address, he should embrace an ambitious rights agenda: enhancing our security without trampling on human rights; implementing a foreign policy that hold friends and foes alike accountable for human rights violations; and ensuring human rights for all in the United States without discrimination.
Measured against international norms and his own aspirations, President Obama’s first term record on human rights merits an “incomplete.” While he made the bold move of issuing an executive order to close Guantánamo on his second day in office, he has yet to fulfill that promise. The U.S. government’s reliance on lethal drone strikes is growing steadily, but the administration has provided no clear legal justification for the program. Congress has abrogated its responsibility to exercise meaningful oversight of this most ubiquitous element of the “global war on terror,” a paradigm which is in and of itself problematic. Although President Obama has on occasion stood up for human rights defenders abroad — in China, Iran, Russia and Libya — his administration has often muted criticism when it comes to U.S. allies, in the Middle East, Africa and Europe.
US President Barack Obama sits near Myanmar President Thein Sein as they participate in the US-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in 2011. Photo credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
On the eve of President Obama’s historic visit to Myanmar (Burma), the first ever by a U.S. President, his host, President Thein Sein, has released 450 prisoners, a move surely calculated to curry favor with the United States. A smaller amnesty announced in September, just before the UN General Assembly convened, included about 60 political prisoners.
It remains to be seen whether any of an estimated 300 remaining political prisoners will be scattered among the latest batch of parolees. Nonetheless, the prisoner release is, by any measurement, an encouraging step. It says something important about the power and influence of the United States, and the desire of the new government of Myanmar to kiss up to President Obama and bask in the economic possibilities of a post-sanctions environment.
A child soldier in Liberia. (Photo Georges Gobet/AFP/Getty Images)
Growing up in central Texas, I had a lot of friends who were responsible gun owners. Many would hunt deer or sport shoot. Some even carried a gun for self-protection. It was part of the culture. But there was always a heavy emphasis on the “responsible” component of bearing arms.
My gun-owning neighbors in Texas may have embraced the unofficial motto of the National Rifle Association – guns don’t kill people; people kill people – but they would never in a million years have put a loaded weapon in the hands of someone who they knew was likely to use that gun to kill or maim.
So as we watch in horror the slaughter of innocent men, women, and children in Syria, or stare aghast at our computer screens at images of brutal violence and child soldiers in remote regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, what are we to call those countries and international arms brokers who irresponsibly sell guns to thugs intent on violence? Profiteers? Bad actors?
Over the past year, more and more citizens around the world have been standing up for their freedom. Sadly, as chronicled in Amnesty International’s annual State of the World 2012 Report, world leaders have failed to mirror the courage shown by millions of peaceful protesters. Too many nations have placed self-interest and profit ahead of people’s rights – and even their lives. The results have been tragic.
Even the United Nations Security Council, which is supposed to be the bulwark of global peace and security, has failed in its response to these popular uprisings, especially in the Middle East and North Africa. The Security Council’s ramparts have been thinly manned, its response to cries for help too often feeble. Inaction over Syria has left the Council seeming woefully unfit for its primary purpose: maintaining international peace.
In the case of Syria, Russian and Chinese intransigence has put the credibility of the Council at risk; undermining its core function as a guardian of human rights, and rendering accountability for crimes against humanity elusive. President Hafez al-Assad’s regime continues to face down protesters with snipers and tanks, arresting and torturing children as young as ten years old. Yet Russia continues to provide Syria with arms and fails to use its close security relationship – it maintains a naval base at Tartus – to persuade Assad to stop the killing.