Former President Jimmy Carter said on Tuesday that the United States had “abandoned” our championship of human rights and said that he was afraid our “indifference to human rights violations” would encourage them to grow.
Carter’s remarks, first reported by CNN, came at the conclusion of the Carter Center’s annual Human Rights Defenders Forum, which brought together more than 60 activists from 25 countries for four days of discussions.
Answering a press question during a Q&A, Carter also said, “To be a superpower, the United States should be the champion of human rights in the world. We’re not the superpower because we have the largest military on Earth, or have the strongest economy in the world, we should be a superpower because we espouse things that are important to everyone on Earth, and I think human rights are one of them.”
“The United States has already lost its long-time commitment to basic human rights,” the former president added.
In response to a Twitter user asking how the country can handle illegal immigration without violating human rights, Carter said he thinks the U.S. needs a comprehensive and bipartisan bill that would “give immigrants a clear picture of what they can expect when they get to the United States or apply for citizenship.”
However, he added, “I don’t see that happening in the United States in the very near future.”
Carter’s remarks come days before Thursday’s deadline for reunifying more than 2,500 migrant children with their parents after they had been separated at the border as a result of the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy on undocumented immigrants.
They also come a month after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the U.S. would no longer accept domestic and gang violence as the basis for asylum claims.
During the Q&A, Carter also said that he was watching yesterday’s Republican gubernatorial runoff in Georgia “with interest and some element of disgust,” when asked about the racial divide in politics today.
The former president, who is 93, added that “the problem now with racial divide is probably greater than I have known in my adult lifetime.”