USA*ENGAGE Opposes Specter-Wolf Bill

Tuesday, 20 May 1997

"It is highly unlikely that unilateral economic coercion will lead to greater religious tolerance," said Frank Kittredge, Vice Chairman of USA*ENGAGE and President of the National Foreign Trade Council. "This is a classic example of an area in which deeper and broader contact with American society, including churches and non-governmental organizations, is far more likely to have a positive influence than economic isolation."

Kittredge pointed out that the U.S. Department of State's annual human rights report monitors religious persecution among other human rights violations. "Although we abhor religious persecution, withdrawal of U.S. economic influence is counterproductive," said Kittredge. "American business is an important vehicle for transmitting American values, including religious tolerance. The Specter-Wolf bill, however, would misuse and undercut that influence by making it subject to government policy."

The Specter-Wolf legislation would add religious persecution to a growing list of issues that the U.S. is seeking to influence through the imposition of unilateral economic sanctions. As a consequence, the United States has authorized 61 unilateral sanctions on 35 nations in the past four years.

USA*ENGAGE is encouraging the United States to pursue diplomatic solutions when faced with human rights abuses and other problems in countries throughout the world. Unilateral economic sanctions are ineffective and often counter productive, hurting those they are intended to help.

USA*ENGAGE is a broad-based coalition representing 497 small and large American businesses, agriculture groups and trade associations. The organization supports American engagement overseas as the best means to promote human rights, values and American interests. Coalition members are undertaking a sustained effort to support greater overseas involvement by the United States at all levels -- political, diplomatic, economic, charitable, religious, educational and cultural -- and to seek alternatives to the use of unilateral economic sanctions.


Contact: Eric Thomas or Kim McCreery at 202-822-9491