foreign relations

Hillary Clinton Finally Gets Around to Name Dropping Uganda. Okay, Now What?

Clinton Human Rights

Apropos of everyone asking why there’s been no real public condemnation of Uganda’s Kill The Gays bill, Sec. of State Hillary Clinton finally went off on the country’s planned state-sponsored identity cleansing.

Speaking to a crowd at Georgetown University, Clinton, halfway through a lengthy speech, addressed the elephant in the room:

Sometimes, we will have the most impact by publicly denouncing a government action, like the coup in Honduras or the violence in Guinea. Other times, we will be more likely to help the oppressed by engaging in tough negotiations behind closed doors, like pressing China and Russia as part of our broader agenda. In every instance, our aim will be to make a difference, not to prove a point.

Calling for accountability doesn’t start or stop at naming offenders. Our goal is to encourage—even demand—that governments must also take responsibility by putting human rights into law and embedding them in government institutions; by building strong, independent courts and competent and disciplined police and law enforcement. And once rights are established, governments should be expected to resist the temptation to restrict freedom of expression when criticism arises, and be vigilant in preventing law from becoming an instrument of oppression, as bills like the one under consideration in Uganda to criminalize homosexuality would do.

We know that all governments—and all leaders—sometimes fall short. So there have to be internal mechanisms of accountability when rights are violated. Often the toughest test for governments, this is essential to the protection of human rights. And here, too, we should lead by example. In the last six decades we have done this—imperfectly at times but with significant outcomes—from making amends for the internment of our own citizens in World War II, to establishing legal recourse for victims of discrimination in the Jim Crow South, to passing hate crimes legislation to include attacks against gays and lesbians. When injustice anywhere is ignored, justice everywhere is denied. Acknowledging and remedying mistakes does not make us weaker, it reaffirms the strength of our principles and institutions.

She is right! President Yoweri Museveni is falling short. Way short. He’s about to violate the human rights of thousands and thousands. So, uh, what is the U.S. prepared to do about it now?