Journal Article

“A Call for U.S. Leadership”: Congressional Activism on Human Rights

Sarah B. Snyder

in Diplomatic History

Published on behalf of Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations

Volume 37, issue 2, pages 372-397
Published in print April 2013 | ISSN: 0145-2096
Published online February 2013 | e-ISSN: 1467-7709 | DOI:

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Before Representative Donald Fraser and the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Organizations and Social Movements held hearings in 1973 on human rights, the issue had garnered only episodic attention by governmental actors. The subcommittee’s resulting report called for “U.S. leadership” on the international protection of human rights, and subsequent legislation implemented many of the subcommittee’s recommendations. Taken together, the hearings and their consequences signaled a turning point in U.S. human rights policy as they influenced efforts to reshape the State Department’s bureaucracy and formalized attention to human rights as a factor in U.S. policy in the years that followed. Importantly, this congressional activism pre-dated Jimmy Carter’s administration and ensured attention to human rights would continue beyond his single term in the White House.

Journal Article.  13135 words. 

Subjects: International History ; United States History