EPIIC Archives

1991 Confronting Political and Social Evil

Everywhere the human soul stands between a hemisphere of light and another of darkness. -- Thomas Carlyle

Large areas of the world -- Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, Central and Latin America, and the Caribbean -- are attempting to recover from decades of repression, terror and the destruction of individual and national identity. Will these extraordinary changes present an unprecedented opportunity to forge a "new world order," one founded on respect for law and human rights? Or will the resiliency of repressive security establishments prevent the acknowledgement of past abuses and the rendering of justice? How will the implosion of the Soviet Empire, the resulting post-cold war environment and the Gulf crisis affect U.S. regard for human rights as a critical issue -- be it in friendly alliances or adversarial relationships, e.g. Israel and the territories, Saudi Arabia, Guatemala, Kenya, Southern Africa, Cambodia or China? What are the dilemmas of, and prospects for, humanitarian intervention? Will the resurgence of ethnic, linguistic and religious conflicts, the reconfiguration of sovereignty and intensifying environmental and developmental problems, and the resulting displaced peoples and massive refugee flows, pose even greater threats for individual and group rights? Is there a common moral intuition that provides a vision of fundamental human rights and ethical principles? Are there ways to promote an ethical and pragmatic foreign policy that would make history's brutalizing events less likely? This symposium conducted a multidisciplinary inquiry into the role of human rights in internal and international affairs -- principles, priorities and practice.