Philip C. Aka


This Article critiques the U.S. government’s approach to human rights. In particular, it assesses U.S. commitment to socioeconomic human rights. These guarantees encompass, among others, the right to work, including the securement of favorable conditions of work through participation in trade union activities, the right to social security, the right to food, the right to education, the right to adequate health care, and the right to housing, along with the general right to be free from extreme poverty. These rights were inspired by the Universal Declaration, and elaborated by the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). This Article argues that the conventional characterization of the U.S. approach to human rights provides an inadequate accounting of the country’s activities in the human rights field, but that proper portrayal of those contributions still leaves the American human rights approach unacceptably incomprehensive. The study has four main parts, in addition to this introduction and a conclusion. Part II discusses the definition of human rights and dwells on the necessity for the U.S. to apply international human rights standards. Part III presents the traditional view of the U.S.’s approach to human rights and the small place afforded socioeconomic guarantees in that model. Part IV articulates the trouble with the traditional view. Part V constructs a comprehensive approach in human rights for the U.S. that is built on embracement of international human rights standards.