Keeping promises? Obama and human rights

McCall-Smith, Kasey L (2012). Keeping promises? Obama and human rights. In: Scott-Smith, Giles ed. Obama, US Politics and Transatlantic Relations: Change or Continuity? European Policy (50). Brussels: Peter Lang, pp. 257–272.



This chapter examines Obama’s record on the promotion and protection of human rights in response to the rights most aggravated by the previous administration. It will begin with Obama’s promises during his campaign, as president-elect and at the beginning of his presidency in 2009 to both the American public and the global community. These promises will be evaluated in light of the historical and contemporary human rights commitments of the US. The current state of human rights with respect to specific problematic issues carried over from the Bush years will then be considered, including the role that the EU has played in relation to Obama’s pledges to recommit the US to human rights. Finally, the common human rights goals of the EU and US will be introduced. As noted by James Bratt early in 2010, with the election of Obama there was a positive feeling that the US would “return to being its old, familiar self—a country that played by the rules and acted friendly toward its neighbors, consulting them about mutual interests rather than rampaging around like a rogue elephant.” Two years into Obama’s presidency some question whether much progress has been made in the way of tangible policy changes on human rights.

Viewing alternatives

No digital document available to download for this item

Item Actions