The prospect of a U.S. crackdown on countries violating the human rights of their citizens was a major focus of attention today as high-ranking finance officials from 40 Asian nations conferred at the annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank.
Much of the corridor conversation concerned a bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives that would require U.S. representatives to the Asian bank and other multilateral lending institutions to vote against most aid to countries with a consistent pattern of human rights violations.The requirement was opposed by the Carter administration, which has been taking the position that linking human rights violations to aid is not the best way to end the abuses.
The two heaviest borrowers from the bank are South Korea, which has borrowed $551.3 million, and the Phil- [TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE] The governments of both countries have frequently been criticized in the U.S. Congress for violations of human rights.
When the Carter administration recommended in February that military aid be withheld from three countries that allegedly violate human rights, however, it said that no aid cut would be recommended for South Korea because of its strategic importance.
Phillippine President Ferdinand Marcos in his address yesterday to the bank's board governors said that raising the issue of human rights abuses is simply a ploy for distracting attention from the main global goal of a mere equitable distribution of wealth between rich and poor nations.
Marcos' sentiments were seconded by the chairman of the bank's board, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah of Malaysia.
"Human right to us is the right to live, the right to be free from hunger," he said.
The U.S. delegate, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Arnold Secretary of the Treasury Arnold Nachmanoff, said in his address today that the U.S. government "believes that the goals and purposes of the international banks encompass a broad range of fundamental concerns, including advancement of basic human rights, as well as freedom from economic privation and want."