Biden joins former colleague Dodd to call for defense of human rights

Biden joins former colleague Dodd to call for defense of human rights
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President BidenJoe BidenMarcus Garvey's descendants call for Biden to pardon civil rights leader posthumously GOP grapples with chaotic Senate primary in Pennsylvania ​​Trump social media startup receives commitment of billion from unidentified 'diverse group' of investors MORE on Friday delivered a call for the defense of human rights around the world and cooperation among democracies as he joined with former colleagues to dedicate a building in honor of former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.).

“Today we know that our efforts to defend human rights around the world are stronger because we recognize our own historic challenges as part of that same fight,” Biden said in prepared remarks. “Leading by example means taking action at home to renew and defend our own democracy. To advance equity and promote justice. To defend the sacred right to vote and free, fair and secure elections.”

Biden attended the dedication of the Dodd Center for Human Rights at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, where his longtime Senate colleague was honored for his service in both chambers of Congress representing the state.

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The two men overlapped in the Senate from 1981 when Dodd was sworn in to the time Biden became vice president in 2009. Dodd, a close friend of the president’s, led his vice presidential search during the campaign and is a senior counsel at law and lobbying firm Arnold & Porter.

Biden spoke of his administration’s efforts to advance human rights through gender and racial equity and via overturning Trump administration policies that banned travel from certain Muslim-majority countries and that barred poeple who are transgender from serving in the military.

“We’re unique in all the world. We’re based on one guiding principle, we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men and women are created equal, endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We have never lived up to it. We have never, until very recently, walked away from it,” he said.

He said his administration is “re-engaging” and “rallying the world” to advance universal human rights, mentioning that the U.S. rejoined the United Nations Human Rights Council.

“We have fewer democracies in the world today than we did 15 years ago. Fewer, not more, fewer,” he said, banging his hand on the podium.

“It cannot be sustained. That’s why from day one of my administration I’ve taken concrete steps to put human rights back at the center of our foreign policy and reassert our moral leadership in the global stage. To lead, as Chris has so often heard me say, with the power of our example, not the example of our power,” the president added.

Prior to being dedicated to Chris Dodd, the center bore the name of his father, Thomas J. Dodd, who was a senator and prosecutor in the Nuremberg trials.

“The road to tyranny begins with the destruction of truth, in my view that was the lesson at the heart of the Nuremberg trials,” Biden said.

“He persevered the truth, ugly and how traumatic as it was, for all of history so that the horrors of the holocaust could never be diminished or denied. Evil that we still have to guard against to this day has to be watched,” he said of Thomas Dodd.

The president said the center is also dedicated to the students at the University of Connecticut who defend human rights “as a passion and purpose of their lives,” and dedicated it to “expanding our shared understanding that we can never fully realize the freedom we wish for ourselves without also helping ensure liberty and justice for everyone.”

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“And, let’s dedicate it to the unending fight to bring our own nation, or our world, closer to a future in which every human being is free to pursue the highest dreams and unleash their full potential,” he added.

Earlier in the day, Biden pitched his economic agenda during remarks at the Capitol Child Development Center in Hartford, Conn. The president made a personal appeal at the center, speaking about how he couldn’t afford child care when he was first elected to the Senate.