George Rupp Discusses China and Human Rights
George Rupp has been president of the International Rescue Committee since July 2002. As the IRC’s chief executive officer, Dr. Rupp oversees the agency’s relief and rehabilitation operations in 25 countries and its refugee resettlement and assistance programs throughout the United States. In addition, he leads the IRC’s advocacy efforts in Washington, Geneva, Brussels and other capitals on behalf of the world’s most vulnerable people. His responsibilities regularly take him to IRC program sites in Africa, Asia, and Europe.
Before joining the IRC, Dr. Rupp was president of Columbia University. During his nine-year tenure, he focused on enhancing undergraduate education, on strengthening the relationship of the campus to surrounding communities and New York City as a whole, and on increasing the university’s international orientation. At the same time, he completed both a financial restructuring of the university and a $2.84 billion fundraising campaign that achieved eight successive records in dollars raised.
Prior to his time at Columbia, Dr. Rupp served as president of Rice University, where in the course of his eight years applications for admission almost tripled, federal research support more than doubled, and the value of the Rice endowment increased by more than $500 million to $1.25 billion.
Before going to Rice, Dr. Rupp was the John Lord O’Brian Professor of Divinity and dean of the Harvard Divinity School. Under his leadership, the curriculum of the school was revised to address more directly the pluralistic character of contemporary religious life. Further developments included new programs in women’s studies and religion, Jewish-Christian relations, and religion and medicine.
Born in New Jersey of immigrant parents, Dr. Rupp has studied and conducted research for extended periods in both Europe and Asia. He was awarded an A.B. from Princeton University in 1964, a B.D. from Yale Divinity School in 1967, and a Ph.D. from Harvard in 1972. He is the author of numerous articles and five books, including Globalization Challenged: Commitment, Conflict, and Community.
Question: How should we encourage China to defend human rights?
George Rupp: My own view is that China will in fact make substantial in moving beyond human right’s violations as it continues to develop economically. I think that we need to be more modest about our lecturing China and other countries about human rights until we get our own abuses of human rights in order. I’m happy to see the Obama administration is focused on doing that in the case of Guantanamo, for example. But I think we should be a little less quick to hector other countries on human rights and instead encourage the kind of civil society developments and economic exchanges that in the long run will move countries like China away abuse of human rights.
George Rupp on the battle over human rights
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