The Foreign Service Journal, June 2020

24 JUNE 2020 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL Stephen J. Rapp is a senior fellow at the Center for Prevention of Genocide at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. From 2009 to 2015, he was U.S. ambassador-at-large heading the State Department Office of Global Criminal Justice. Prior to that, he was the prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (2007- 2009), having earlier served as senior trial attorney and chief of prosecutions at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (2001-2007). Before his international service, he was U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa (1993-2001). FOCUS ON HUMAN RIGHTS In a pragmatic bipartisan foreign policy that balances the pursuit of our national interests with the preservation of our fundamental values and principles, what role should the defense and protection of human rights play in our relations with other countries? The U.S. commitment to human rights, and our support for their protection through international norms and law, is essential to our ability to bring together and lead global efforts to confront a range of challenges that threaten us all. You see it in international meetings where countries want to work with us. Some countries are becoming more economically dependent on China, but they still prefer to be at our side. It is only when we act inconsistently with human rights or violate international norms ourselves that we lose them and harm our effectiveness. Of course, all governments are obligated to give the high- est priority to protecting their own citizens; and when they act abroad, they will need to justify these actions as serving this priority. While U.S. administrations led by both parties have taken positive steps to protect human rights across the world, I think that they have all fallen short when it comes to building popular support for these actions as essential to the interests of the American people. What is your definition of human rights? Is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights still the fundamental document for human rights work? What bearing does the U.S. Constitu- tion have in this? Is there any particular order of priority in promoting and defending particular human rights, or should Human Rights Today A veteran prosecutor weighs in on the state of the project to establish and protect human rights around the world. E ditor’s Note: Stephen J. Rapp has been at the leading edge of promoting human rights for years, including through prosecuting war criminals in Rwanda and heading State’s Office of Global Criminal Justice. In this insightful and wide-ranging interview with the FSJ , Rapp discusses how to raise sensitive human rights issues in diplomacy, how to carefully balance human rights with national security interests, and why human rights must be an enduring feature of U.S. foreign policy. A Q&A with Stephen J. Rapp ILLUSTRATIONBYMARIACARLUCCIO/THE ISPOT