The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Brenda Bowser Soder 202-370-3323,

Human Rights First Statement Following President Obama's Remarks at the American, Russian Civil Society Shadow Summit


Following a meeting of American and Russian civil society
representatives with President Obama, Paul LeGendre, Director of Human
Rights First's Fighting Discrimination Program said the following:

"Today, by meeting with representatives of the Civil Society Leaders
Summit, President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to pursue what he
described in an interview with independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta
as the US and Russia's 'common interest in the development of the rule
of law, the strengthening of democracy, and the protection of human

In the course of discussions during the civil society summit,
Russian and American human rights NGOs identified a wide range of
concerns from torture and illegal detention to rising hate crime that
are relevant to both countries, and were able to share in person with
President Obama recommendations on addressing these urgent problems.

For the human rights community in both countries, it will now be
important to see practical follow-up steps to promote and protect human
rights as part of the bi-lateral relationship. The newly created
Bilateral Presidential Commission, to be coordinated by U.S. Secretary
of State Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, could be one step
toward ensuring a more regular discussion on vital issues, including
human rights concerns. One way to ensure that this bilateral commission
produces results is to develop an agenda that addresses human rights
concerns and to guarantee that civil society representatives from both
countries are fully engaged in the process and that it functions in a
transparent manner."

Human Rights First is a non-profit, nonpartisan international human rights organization based in New York and Washington D.C. Human Rights First believes that building respect for human rights and the rule of law will help ensure the dignity to which every individual is entitled and will stem tyranny, extremism, intolerance, and violence.