Por Viviana González Vargas – International Relations Student

The United States is the number world power and that’s a fact. Economically speaking, for example, they were the country with the highest GDP (gross domestic product) last year, making $20.93 trillion. Also, it’s not a secret that they have a lot of sociocultural influence, mostly due to the power they have over the media. But, as more and more people have noticed in the past years, they’re far from perfect with the values of justice, tranquility, common defense and liberty that their Constitution claims that the people form the US align with. Frequently, the world sees a new headline from events that happen in this nation that clearly go against the compliance of human rights. Now, they’re not the only country that’s far from perfect, but they constantly sell an idea to the world that they’re the example that needs to be followed and they do this with human rights as well. So, are they the best country when it comes to promoting and enforcing human rights globally? No, but that doesn’t mean that their role isn’t necessary in the advocation of human rights.

In order to defend my point, I will start with information from the Human Rights Watch (2021) to explain why the United States has proven that they are failing in this topic. Just by looking into how the Covid-19 pandemic had a “disproportionate impact on racial and ethnic minorities”, such as people that are black, latinx and native. This is proof of a problem of inequality that came from the fact that people from vulnerable populations have less opportunities to access healthcare, education and employment. Then, there are examples that are very well-known right now of police brutality. Also, there’s a problem with women’s rights, like when we’re talking about how the access of healthcare is incredibly difficult, so there are now higher rates of cervical cancer deaths. Lastly, I would like to mention the “Muslim Ban”, which forbid people from certain countries to travel to the US, and the “Transgender Military Ban”, which prohibited trans people from joining the military. Those bans were overturned, but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t happen. These are just a few examples, but I think they’re enough to prove that they’re not the leaders when it comes to human rights.

However, like I said, their role is still necessary. Some people may argue that that’s a false statement and I get why they would think like this. For example, a lot of countries now have a really poor opinion of the US, like Wike, Fetterfolf and Mordecai (2020), where in countries like the UK, France, Germany, Japan and Canada the percentage of people with a favorable view of the US went down more than forty points in certain cases. So, if these other powerful countries don’t trust them, why should others do? The answer for that is that despite their failure in some aspects, we can’t ignore the influence they still have on the rest of the world.

Many ideologies, values, and trends that affect the world right now come from the United States, meaning that their role in how the world works is huge. Also, they already have economic, social and political power, so, maybe the solution isn’t ignoring the US as a promoter of human rights. Instead, the US government and international organizations need to work on fixing the problems they have when it comes to human rights, so hopefully, others will follow.

As a conclusion, I would say that they’re not the best model. However, we can’t deny the power that they have, which basically means that they’re necessary for improving the many negative situations that the world is facing with human rights. They need to become a better example first, though. I say this because if the most powerful and influential nation in the world got better, wouldn’t it be a logical conclusion to say that many other countries would do the same?

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  • Human Rights Watch. (2021). United States. Events of 2020. https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2021/country-chapters/united-states
  • Wike, R., Fetterolf, J. and Mordecai, M. (2020). U.S. Image Plummets Internationally as Most Say Country Has Handled Coronavirus Badly. https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2020/09/15/us-image-plummets-internationally-as-most-say-country-has-handled-coronavirus-badly/