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President Obama Cites "Rule of Law and Rights of Man" in Historic Inaugural Address
Referring to concerns about our common defense and rejecting as false the perceived choice between our safety and our ideals, President Obama has reaffirmed that his administration will uphold and be guided by the rule of law and the rights of man enshrined by our Founding Fathers in our nation's founding charter, stating:
"Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake."
We at the International & Foreign Law Center applaud President Obama for this commitment and look forward to working with his administration in furthering knowledge of and adherence to the Rule of Law and human rights around the globe. Read the entire Inaugural Address at one of these websites:
(the official website - text not yet available at time of this posting)
What does this augur for the future? One expects many things from a statement so forceful, clear and direct. Many human rights activists will expect detention of persons by US authorities abroad will be subjected to the strictest scrutiny for adherence to constitutional and civil rights. In the realm of foreign policy, governments that flagrantly violate human rights or flaunt the Rule of Law and democratic process will likely become subject to intense pressure to yield to the will of their people - one thinks immediately of Zimbabwe, The Sudan, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar. Many will expect leadership in clamping down on human trafficking worldwide in an attempt to root out this despicable, greed-driven evil.
In short, President Obama has promised to usher in change, a change that in part will return us to adherence to the most fundamental values that our nation holds: the rule of law, exemplified by today's peaceful change of government in accordance with the rule of law, and the upholding of the fundamental rights of humankind, exemplified in our bill of rights and related legislation. For the Rule of Law and the rights of man to survive as the very ideals that President Obama cites them as, his call to all Americans requires us to embrace the values on which our success depends, "
hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history.
They are the building blocks, collectively exercised by any society, upon which that society's successful adherence to the Rule of Law and its upholding of human rights must be based.
Reminiscent of the jurisprudential debates among Roscoe Pound and Wesley Hohfeld nearly a century ago, President Obama did not neglect to mention the corelative to our precious rights, that glue that holds the rule of law together, namely, our duties: "
What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.
This is the price and the promise of citizenship.
This is the source of our confidence - the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny. "
Clearly there is much to be done in the face of crises, both domestic and international, that beset our nation, and we Americans are all called to do our part in responding to them. We hope and expect that President Obama's clarion call will be heeded by all.
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