Reagan, Congress and Human Rights: Contesting Morality in US Foreign Policy

11 February 2021
16:00 - 17:30

We are most delighted to announce our next event. On Thursday 11th of February, Dr Rasmus Sinding Søndergaard will give a lecture in which he presents the main arguments of his new book.

The book  portrays the role of human rights concerns in US foreign policy during the 1980s, focusing on the struggle among the Reagan administration and members of Congress. It furthermore demonstrates how congressional pressure led the administration to reconsider its approach to human rights and craft a conservative human rights policy centred on democracy promotion and anti-communism – a decision which would have profound implications for American attention to human rights. Tracing the motivations behind human rights activism, this book showcases how liberals, moderates, and conservatives selectively invoked human rights to further their agendas, ultimately contributing to the establishment of human rights as a core moral language in US foreign policy.

Rasmus S. Søndergaard is a Senior Researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies, specializing in U.S. foreign policy, human rights history, and democracy promotion. He is the author of Reagan, Congress, and Human Rights (Cambridge University Press, 2020) and several articles published in journals like International Politics, Diplomacy & Statecraft, and the Journal of Cold War Studies. For further information on his research, please see:

Join us on starleaf on Thursday 11th of February! 

Keywords: diplomacy, human rights and US foreign relations


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