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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: March 2020

1 - After the Breakthrough

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Summary

Chapter 1 offers a survey of human rights concerns in American foreign relations in the 1980s. First, it traces the human rights breakthrough in US foreign policy during the 1970s, emphasizing the important role individual members of Congress played in this development. The chapter notes the varied motivations behind congressional human rights activism and the selective adoption of human rights concerns. The chapter then examines the role of human rights in the 1980 presidential election between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, noting the candidates’ different visions for human rights concerns in US foreign policy. Aside from putting Reagan in the White House, the 1980 election also altered the composition of Congress, with Republicans winning control of the Senate. The chapter explores the implications this new political landscape had for congressional attention to human rights and summarizes the measures members of Congress employed to address human rights issues. Surveying American attention to human rights in the 1980s, the chapter examines liberal and conservative visions of human rights. Finally, the chapter situates human rights concerns within the context of other expressions of morality in American foreign relations.