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Defining the Strugle

1 - 10
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Messenger: the rock Sent: 12/25/2003 5:42:27 AM


Interest in, devotion to, and imitation of the culture and ideals of ancient Greece, especially as developed in Athens in the 5th and 4th centuries bc. The term, implying an unrestricted, pagan love of life, is often used in contrast to Hebraism, which implies an austerely moralistic, less sensuous, way of life.

Babylonian Legacy

More than 1200 years had elapsed from the glorious reign of Hammurabi to the subjugation of Babylonia by the Persians. During this long span of time the Babylonian social structure, economic organization, arts and crafts, science and literature, judicial system, and religious beliefs underwent considerable modification, but generally only in details, not in essence. Grounded almost wholly on the culture of Sumer, Babylonian cultural achievements left a deep impression on the entire ancient world, and particularly on the Hebrews and the Greeks. Even present-day civilization is indebted culturally to Babylonian civilization to some extent. For instance, Babylonian influence is pervasive throughout the Bible and in the works of such Greek poets as Homer and Hesiod, in the geometry of the Greek mathematician Euclid, in astronomy, in astrology, and in heraldry

The Greeks and the Romans both had colonies, which they dominated by establishing military posts in conquered territory. The Greeks controlled most of the islands in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, and later the Romans controlled the whole area from Constantinople (now Ýstanbul) in Turkey, to Palestine and North Africa, to Gaul (France) and Britain. The Romans developed a theory of colonization. They believed that a garrison (military post) must include women who could work in fields and bear children. The post could then become a settlement capable of supporting and reproducing itself. Centuries later, English settlers put this theory into practice in their colonies in Ireland and Virginia.

1. dominate harshly: to subject a person or a people to a harsh or cruel form of domination
2. inflict stress on: to be a source of worry, stress, or trouble to somebody
3. suppress: to hold something in check or put an end to it

These are the words that help me define the world and the entities in control of it!

Messenger: Nefertiti Sent: 12/25/2003 4:55:30 PM

Beloved community, Jah Rasta Far I

Ras Rock, thanks and praises for the meditation. Rasta awareness of the struggle to strenghten ini to trod up to ZION, in knowldge, wisdom and RIGHTOUESNESS.

Morgan heritage.. chanting "Wake up you mighty people, from your sleep and slumber....Come jah is gathering INI people. What Joy let's sing praise,,,,,sing praise you mighty people.......give all the glory to the KING................KING OF KINGS..HIM come TO-gather his children."

Give jah give thanks Give Praise give glory Jah rasta Far I

Jah is gathering HIM I-dren. INI blessed........


Messenger: Ark I Sent: 12/25/2003 10:29:12 PM

Yes I,

Babylon has been continuing the same wickedness for a very long time.

They have learned more over time and have become smarter about their wickedness and manipulation, but the foundation of Babylon is still the same.

I and I foundation is the same now as from the beginning. But I and I foundation is very different from Babylon.

Jah is I and I foundation,

Ark I
Haile Selassie I

Messenger: ijah Sent: 12/26/2003 6:43:11 AM

babylon haffe no foundation nor fruits,although they think so..It a build pon the sand,Wind and water will come and it ll be wiped away..treu that.
And surely nothing hhas changed from the beginnung until a the same story,same struggles InI brethren an sistren had to face inna old ancient times{like Joshua and more of them freedomfighters}
best thing inI could a do,is to give JAH thx and praises itinualy,no matter what the crisis may be.....SEEN...Jah is i rock and solid foundation,me nah feat the water and the wind,let it come,cause InI know JAH is mighty.Him guides and protects InI,as for the heathen,them will face Jah on judgement day,not knowing where fe hide or to run......SELAH RASTAFARI IS......

Thx praises unto The Most High H.I.M. Haile Selassie I JAH RASTAFARI!!!!!!!


Messenger: the rock Sent: 12/26/2003 9:48:27 AM


Messenger: the rock Sent: 12/30/2003 10:37:11 AM

North Atlantic Treaty Organization

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), regional defense alliance created by the North Atlantic Treaty. NATO's purpose is to enhance the stability, well-being, and freedom of its members through a system of collective security. Members of the alliance agree to defend one another from attack by other nations or by terrorist groups. NATO has its headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.

The North Atlantic Treaty was signed on April 4, 1949, at the beginning of the Cold War. The original purpose of NATO was to defend Western Europe against possible attack by Communist nations, led by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). The original signatories (signers of treaty) were Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Greece and Turkey were admitted to the alliance in 1952, West Germany in 1955, and Spain in 1982. In 1990 the newly unified Germany replaced West Germany as a NATO member.

After the formal end of the Cold War in 1991, NATO reached out to former members of the Warsaw Pact, the Communist military alliance created in 1955 by the USSR to counter NATO. In 1999 former Warsaw Pact members Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic became members of NATO, bringing the total membership to 19 nations. In 2002 Russia, once the USSR’s largest republic, became a limited partner in NATO as a member of the NATO-Russia Council. The same year NATO invited the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, formerly part of the USSR, to join, along with Slovenia, formerly part of Communist Yugoslavia, and Bulgaria, Romania, and Slovakia, once part of Czechoslovakia. These countries were expected to become members of NATO in 2004. Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, and Romania were all former Warsaw Pact members.

Over the years the existence of NATO has led to closer ties among its members and to a growing community of interests. The treaty itself has provided a model for other collective security agreements. NATO activities are no longer confined only to Europe. In 2003, for the first time in its history, NATO took up peacekeeping activities outside of Europe by deploying troops in Afghanistan.


In the years after World War II (1939-1945), many Western leaders believed the policies of the USSR threatened international stability and peace. The forcible installation of Communist governments throughout Eastern Europe, territorial demands by the Soviets, and their support of guerrilla war in Greece and regional separatism in Iran appeared to many as the first steps of World War III. Such events prompted the signing of the Dunkirk Treaty in 1947 between Britain and France, which pledged a common defense against aggression. Subsequent events, including the rejection by Eastern European nations of the European Recovery Program (Marshall Plan) and the creation of Cominform, a European Communist organization, in 1947, led to the Brussels Treaty signed by most Western European countries in 1948. Among the goals of that pact was the collective defense of its members. The Berlin blockade that began in March 1948 led to negotiations between Western Europe, Canada, and the United States that resulted in the North Atlantic Treaty.


The North Atlantic Treaty consists of a preamble and 14 articles. The preamble states the purpose of the treaty: to promote the common values of its members and to “unite their efforts for collective defense.” Article 1 calls for peaceful resolution of disputes. Article 2 pledges the parties to economic and political cooperation. Article 3 calls for development of the capacity for defense. Article 4 provides for joint consultations when a member is threatened. Article 5 promises the use of the members' armed forces for “collective self-defense.” Article 6 defines the areas covered by the treaty. Article 7 affirms the precedence of members' obligations under the United Nations Charter. Article 8 safeguards against conflict with any other treaties of the signatories. Article 9 creates a council to oversee implementation of the treaty. Article 10 describes admission procedures for other nations. Article 11 states the ratification procedure. Article 12 allows for reconsideration of the treaty. Article 13 outlines withdrawal procedures. Article 14 calls for the deposition of the official copies of the treaty in the U.S. Archives.


The highest authority within NATO is the North Atlantic Council, composed of permanent delegates from all members, headed by a secretary general. It is responsible for general policy, budgetary outlines, and administrative actions, and is the decision-making body of NATO. The Secretariat, various temporary committees, and the Military Committee are among the committees that report to the North Atlantic Council. The secretary general runs the Secretariat, which handles all the nonmilitary functions of the alliance. The temporary committees deal with specific assignments of the council. The Military Committee consists of the chiefs of staff of the various armed forces; it meets twice a year. Between such meetings the Military Committee, in permanent session with representatives of the members, defines military policies. Below the Military Committee are the various geographical commands: Allied Command Europe, Allied Command Atlantic, and the Canada-U.S. Regional Planning Group. These commands are in charge of deploying armed forces in their areas.

A Early Years

Until 1950 NATO consisted primarily of a pledge by the United States to defend other members of the alliance under the terms of Article 5 of the treaty. However, there was no effective military or administrative structure to implement this pledge. The outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950 convinced the allies that the Soviets might act against a divided Germany. The result was not only the creation of a military command system, but also the expansion of the organization. In 1952 Greece and Turkey joined the alliance, and in 1955 West Germany was accepted under a complicated arrangement whereby Germany would not be allowed to manufacture nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons. In its first decade NATO was mainly a military organization dependent on U.S. power for security and for the revival of Europe's economy and national governments.

B The Cold War Era

NATO’s importance grew with the worsening of relations between the Soviet Union and Western powers. As the Soviet Union achieved parity in nuclear weaponry with Western powers, some European nations feared that the United States would not honor its pledge to defend other members of the alliance. The 1960s were characterized by two consequent developments in NATO: the withdrawal of France, under President Charles de Gaulle, from the organization but not from the alliance in 1966; and the rising influence of the smaller nations, which sought to use NATO as an instrument of détente as well as defense.

The crisis in Czechoslovakia in 1968 was a turning point for NATO; thereafter it was viewed as a source of security for Europe. America's involvement in the Vietnam War (1957-1975) further diminished U.S. authority and contributed to dissatisfaction within NATO. Although the 1970s began with some agreements as a result of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT I), the decade ended in disillusionment as the Soviets rapidly built up their military arsenal. NATO resolved this problem with the dual-track program of 1979, in which new defense efforts were accompanied by new efforts at détente. The 1980s opened with a deepening crisis between the East and West. In 1983 the USSR failed to prevent the deployment of intermediate-range ballistic missiles, designed to cope with Soviet weapons targeted on European cities. The signing of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) in 1987 presaged the breakdown of the Warsaw Pact (see Arms Control). The decade ended with the apparent success of NATO in surmounting the challenge of the Communist bloc.

C End of the Cold War

In the late 1980s Communist governments began to crumble throughout Eastern Europe. West Germany absorbed East Germany to form the Federal Republic of Germany in 1990, and the Warsaw Pact dissolved in early 1991. The Soviet Union broke apart later that year, drastically reducing the military threat to NATO. Nevertheless, many Western observers saw NATO in the post-Cold War era as an umbrella of security in a Europe buffeted by the nationalist passions unleashed in Eastern Europe and the former USSR.

Following the dissolution of the USSR, NATO sought to strengthen relations with the newly independent nations that had formerly made up the USSR and with other Central Eastern European countries that belonged to the Warsaw Pact. The North Atlantic Cooperation Council, established in November 1991, provides a forum for consultations between NATO members, Eastern European nations, and the former Soviet republics. In 1993 NATO members endorsed a proposal to offer former Warsaw Pact members limited associations with NATO. Under the plan, known as Partnership for Peace (PFP), nonmembers could be invited to participate in information sharing, joint exercises, and peacekeeping operations. The Partnership for Peace was a step toward providing security and cooperation throughout all of Europe. Many former Soviet satellites were eager to join. Although Russia opposed their membership and threatened to abstain from the Partnership for Peace, it did join eventually. Members of PFP may eventually attain full membership in NATO if other membership requirements, such as a trained army to join NATO troops, are met.

In 1995, after a 30-year boycott, France returned to NATO, accepting a seat on the military committee after U.S. president Bill Clinton accelerated plans for NATO's expansion. Also at this time, the United States and NATO began serious efforts to bring to an end the continuing war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which threatened European stability. Leaders of the NATO alliance authorized a campaign of air strikes against Bosnian Serb positions to force the Bosnian Serbs to negotiate a peace settlement. After weeks of air attacks, the Bosnian Serb leaders agreed to be represented at a peace conference near Dayton, Ohio, and in December 1995 the warring parties signed a peace accord that ended the war (see Dayton Peace Accord). The following month, as part of the Dayton agreement, NATO deployed a multinational force of tens of thousands of troops, known as the Implementation Force (IFOR), to monitor and enforce the cease-fire in Bosnia. A year later NATO replaced this force with a smaller Stabilization Force (SFOR). Its mission was extended indefinitely to ensure stability in the region.

D Recent Developments

In March 1999 three former members of the Warsaw Pact—Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic—joined the alliance. The same month, NATO forces began a campaign of air strikes against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY, now the republic of Serbia and Montenegro). The NATO strikes were launched after Yugoslav president Slobodan Milođeviă refused to accept an international peace plan that would have granted a period of autonomy for the Yugoslav province of Kosovo. The province was populated mainly by ethnic Albanians, many of whom were fighting for autonomy or independence for Kosovo. Western leaders hoped the NATO attacks would bring Milođeviă back to the bargaining table. They also hoped to end the ongoing repression of the minority ethnic Albanians by the FRY's ethnic Serbian majority.

The first NATO attacks were limited to a few dozen military targets, but the alliance dramatically expanded the air campaign against the FRY after reports of widespread atrocities by Serb forces against Kosovo's ethnic Albanian civilian population. By April 1999 more than 1,000 warplanes under NATO command were involved in strikes throughout the republic. It was the largest military operation ever undertaken by NATO.

Instead of persuading Yugoslav leaders to accept a negotiated peace, the air strikes appeared to deepen Serbian resolve to oppose NATO demands and intensified the violence directed at ethnic Albanians. Serbian army and police forces destroyed villages, killed civilians in Kosovo, and forced hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians to flee the province. The flight of refugees was the largest mass migration in Europe since World War II. Critics charged that NATO failed to anticipate the refugee crisis.

International opposition to the NATO assault came swiftly. Russia, China, and India accused NATO of violating international law by not seeking the approval of the United Nations (UN) before striking Yugoslavia. Russia broke off all diplomatic ties with NATO and introduced a resolution to the UN Security Council that called for an end to the bombardment. The resolution was rejected decisively. (Russia and NATO did not formally resume contact until early 2000.)

NATO was further criticized after warplanes under its command bombed civilian structures and convoys of ethnic Albanians trying to flee Kosovo. NATO leadership apologized for the attacks, which it maintained were accidental, but insisted that Milođeviă was responsible for the continuing conflict. After NATO warplanes bombed China's embassy in Belgrade by mistake, Chinese officials called on NATO to end the air campaign.

In June 1999, after 11 weeks of NATO bombing had incapacitated or destroyed much of Yugoslavia's infrastructure, the FRY consented to most of the alliance's demands. FRY leaders signed an agreement that ended the bombing and placed Kosovo under international control. As part of the agreement, a NATO-led multinational force of thousands of troops occupied Kosovo to help ensure the safe return of ethnic Albanian refugees. The Kosovo peacekeeping force, known as KFOR, saw its mission extended indefinitely to protect public safety, demilitarize Kosovo, and provide humanitarian assistance. The agreement also mandated the disarmament of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), a guerrilla army organized prior to the NATO campaign that had attempted to drive Serb troops and police forces from the province.

The campaign against the FRY revealed the difficulty of sustaining military action that requires the consensus of the entire 19-country NATO alliance, and it exposed differences of opinion in the expanded organization. During the conflict, British leaders advocated attacking the FRY with ground forces, while other members of the alliance publicly opposed plans to invade Kosovo. Despite these disagreements, the core members of the alliance continued to support the air campaign.

NATO's involvement in Kosovo also indicated the expanded role of the alliance in European and world affairs. Prior to the hostilities, military forces under NATO command served primarily to deter would-be attackers. During the Kosovo operation, NATO attempted to use its military might to advance humanitarian goals, to force compliance with the alliance's wishes, and to prevent the possibility of a wider conflict in Europe. NATO intervened in Kosovo despite the fact that none of the alliance's members were directly attacked by the FRY.

In 2002 Russia became a limited partner in NATO as part of the NATO-Russia Council. The creation of the council gave Russia the opportunity to take part in discussions about NATO decisions but without having a binding vote. Most key decisions, such as NATO’s expansion, remained exclusive to the 19-member council of ministers.

Also in 2002, NATO invited seven other countries—Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovenia, and Slovakia—to become members of the organization. All seven were expected to be admitted in 2004, bringing NATO’s total membership to 26.

In 2003 NATO expanded its mission beyond Europe for the first time in its history by assuming control of peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan. NATO officials said the move reflected a new mission to protect its members from terrorism and other security threats. Under the Taliban regime, Afghanistan harbored the leadership of al-Qaeda, the terrorist group believed responsible for the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. The United States responded by invading Afghanistan and overthrowing the Taliban regime. The new NATO force was confined to Kâbul, the capital. United States-led military forces remained responsible for patrolling the rest of the country and engaging the remnants of the Taliban and al-Qaeda forces that continued to resist the invasion.
Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopedia 2003. © 1993-2002 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
were was help for asiatic man?

Messenger: Ark I Sent: 12/31/2003 11:58:47 AM


Nato had a slogan when they started. This slogan was written on their website, I don't know if it is there any more, but it was there about a year ago.

The slogan for the original purpose of NATO was,

"Bring the Americans in, get the Russians out, and keep the Germans down"

So when I look at this slogan, and look at their name. They are called North Atlantic Treaty Organization. And I know that America has another organization, the OAS, Organization of American States. So if NATO's goals are completed in full. I think the new name will be North Atlantic Treaty of American States. NATAS. Reverse the spelling of NATAS and see what you get.

Jah Guide,

Ark I
Haile Selassie I

Messenger: the rock Sent: 12/31/2003 10:33:23 PM

been seen that!!!

Messenger: the rock Sent: 1/5/2004 7:50:53 AM


Somalia or Somali Democratic Republic, republic in eastern Africa, bounded on the north by the Gulf of Aden, on the east and south by the Indian Ocean, on the southwest by Kenya, on the west by Ethiopia, and on the northwest by Djibouti. Somalia has been in a state of civil war and anarchy since 1991, when the central government was overthrown. The total area is 637,700 sq km (246,200 sq mi). Mogadishu is the capital and largest city.


Somalia has a long coastline, extending for 3,025 km (1,880 mi), but it has few natural harbors. A sandy coastal plain borders on the Gulf of Aden in the north. A series of mountain ranges, with average elevations between about 915 and 2,135 m (about 3,000 and 7,000 ft), dominates the northern part of the country. To the south, the interior consists of a rugged plateau, ranging in elevation from about 500 m (about 1,640 ft) in the north to less than 180 m (600 ft) in the south. In the south, a wide coastal plain, which has many sand dunes, borders on the Indian Ocean. The country’s two major rivers are found on the southern plateau, the Jubba (Genalç) in the southern part and the Shabeelle (Shebelç) River in the south central section.

A Climate

The climate of Somalia ranges from tropical to subtropical and from arid to semiarid. Temperatures usually average 28°C (82°F), but may be as low as 0°C (32°F) in the mountain areas and as high as 47°C (116°F) along the coast. The monsoon winds bring a dry season from September to December and a rainy season from March to May. The average annual rainfall is only about 280 mm (about 11 in).

B Vegetation and Animal Life

Vegetation in Somalia consists chiefly of coarse grass and stunted thorn and acacia trees. Aromatic flora, producing frankincense and myrrh, are indigenous to the mountain slopes. In southern Somalia, eucalyptus, euphorbia, and mahogany trees are found. Wildlife is abundant and includes crocodiles, elephants, giraffes, leopards, lions, zebras, and many poisonous snakes.

C Natural Resources

Somalia has few natural resources. The grasslands are suitable for grazing livestock, and the fertile land in the river valleys of the Genalç (Jubba) and Shabeelle and in some coastal areas is used for agricultural crops. Mineral resources are relatively diverse but have not been exploited. Known deposits include petroleum, copper, manganese, gypsum, iron, marble, salt, tin, and uranium.

D Environmental Issues

Somalia is one of the world’s poorest and least developed countries, with 75 percent (1990) of the labor force dependent on agriculture. Only 1.7 percent (1997) of the country’s land is arable, and 0.3 percent (1997) is irrigated. Overgrazing, deforestation, and periodic drought have led to desertification.

Only 31 percent (1990-1998 estimate) of Somalia’s population currently has access to safe sources of water. As a result, about 75 percent of the population is afflicted by intestinal parasites.

Only 0.30 percent (1997) of Somalia’s land was officially protected before the country’s civil war. Protected areas suffer from poaching, logging, and illegal grazing. Of the nation’s many animal species, 32 are threatened with extinction. Somalia has ratified an international agreement protecting endangered species.


The vast majority of the population consists of Somali, a Cushitic people. A small minority of Bantu-speaking people live in the southern part of the country. Other minority groups include Arabs, Indians, Italians, and Pakistanis. Some 70 percent of the people are nomadic or seminomadic pastoralists. The remainder are either crop farmers or inhabitants of the few urban centers.

A Population Characteristics

Somalia has a population (2002 estimate) of 7,753,310. The overall population density is 12 persons per sq km (31 per sq mi). The principal cities are Mogadishu, the capital, Hargeysa, Kismaayo, and Marka.

B Religion and Language

Islam is the state religion in Somalia, and most of the people are Sunni Muslims. The official language is Somali; Arabic, English, and Italian are also used.

C Education

Before Somalia’s government collapsed in 1991 and fighting escalated among clans seeking control of the country, education was free and compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and 14. The literacy rate increased from 5 percent of the adult population in the early 1970s to 24 percent in 1990 following an intensive government-sponsored literacy campaign. As a result of Somalia’s civil war, the educational system collapsed and most schools closed, including the Somali National University (1954-1991) in Mogadishu, which had an enrollment of about 4,600 prior to the war. In 1996 primary schools enrolled only 8 percent of school-aged children, and general secondary schools enrolled a mere 5 percent.


The economy of Somalia is based primarily on livestock raising. Crop farming was of importance only in the south. Efforts to diversify and modernize the economy were directed by the government through a series of development plans, extensively assisted by foreign grants and loans. In the late 1980s the gross national product (GNP) was estimated at only $290 per capita. In the early 1990s, with the Somalian economy in a state of collapse because of the civil war, the GNP had fallen to $36 per capita.

A Agriculture

Livestock raising is the principal occupation in Somalia. The size of livestock herds began to recover in the mid-1990s after falling during the country’s civil war. In 2001 it was estimated that the country had 12.5 million goats, 13.2 million sheep, and 5.2 million cattle. The principal crops were cereal grains (312,800 metric tons), including maize and sorghum; fruits (216,000 metric tons), including bananas; and sugarcane (220,000 metric tons). Each crop showed a significant improvement from yields in the early 1990s.

B Forestry and Fishing

While most wood is cut for fuel, Somalia’s major forestry export products before the 1990s were frankincense and myrrh. The timber harvest in 2000 was 8.3 million cu m (294 million cu ft). Fishing provided for local consumption and exports. In 1997, 15,700 metric tons of fish were caught.

C Manufacturing

Before the civil war escalated in the early 1990s, manufacturing in Somalia was in the early stages of development. A cement factory, a cotton gin, a meat and fish cannery, and a textile plant were established. Other industries included oilseed and fruit processing plants, leather and shoe factories, and petroleum and sugar refineries. Most industry shut down in the early 1990s as a result of civil disorder.

D Currency and Banking

The unit of currency is the Somali shilling, consisting of 100 cents (about 7,000 Somali shillings equal U.S.$1; 1996), issued by the Central Bank of Somalia (1960). Somalia is a member of the Islamic Development Bank and the African Development Bank.

E Foreign Trade

Before the war, Somalia’s chief exports were livestock and bananas. Other exports included meat, fish, leather and hides, and wood. The principal imports were foodstuffs, chemicals, machinery, textiles, and petroleum. Major trading partners in the mid-1980s were the United States, Italy, Germany, Kenya, the United Kingdom, and Saudi Arabia. The civil war halted nearly all foreign trade. Once trade resumed in 1994, Somalia exported livestock and fruit to Yemen and Persian Gulf countries. Traders were active in Mogadishu, benefiting from its duty-free status, even as clan fighting continued. In 2000 Somalia’s exports totaled $110 million, and imports were $250 million.

F Transportation and Communications

Somalia has no railroads; of its 22,100 km (13,732 mi) of roads, about 25 percent are paved or gravel. Mogadishu is the leading port. A government-owned airline provides international service. Until the early 1990s, two government-owned radio stations broadcast in Arabic, English, Italian, Somali, and several other languages, but the collapse of Somalia’s infrastructure because of the civil war has caused much of the country’s telecommunications to be disrupted. Three of the competing factions provide some broadcasting.


Before 1991 Somalia was governed under a constitution adopted in 1979. Executive power was held by a president, who was head of state and leader of the country’s sole legal political party, the Somali Revolutionary Socialist Party. Nominated by the party’s Central Committee, the president was elected to a seven-year term by direct universal vote. Legislative power was vested in the 177-member People’s Assembly. The president appointed 6 members, and the other 171 were popularly elected; all served five-year terms. The highest civilian courts in Somalia were the Supreme Court, two courts of appeal, and eight regional courts. The overthrow of the central government in January 1991 left Somalia in a state of civil war, with no clear central governmental authority.

In 2000 a peace conference elected a transitional legislative body and a president. The administrative scope of the new government is limited due to ongoing instability in Somalia.

A Local Government

Somalia is nominally divided into 18 regions and 84 districts.

B Health and Welfare

Hospital and clinic services in Somalia are free, but resources were severely strained by Somalia’s civil war. Although international relief ended a famine crisis in the early 1990s, primary health care remained an urgent need in the countryside. The average life expectancy at birth in 2002 was 47 years; the infant mortality rate was 122 deaths per 1,000 live births.

C Defense

Until the early 1990s military service of 18 months was compulsory for men between the ages of 18 and 40. In 1990 the army had a force of some 60,000; the navy, 1,200; and the air force, 2,500. Since the overthrow of Mohamed Siad Barre in January 1991, there have been no national armed forces, although the clans maintained separate armies.


The history of the region now included in Somalia dates from antiquity, when the land was known to the ancient Egyptians as Punt. From the 2nd to the 7th century ad parts of the area belonged to the Ethiopian kingdom of Aksum. Arab tribes in the 7th century settled along the coast of the Gulf of Aden and established the sultanate of Adal, which centered on the port of Zeila. The Somali people began slowly to migrate into this region from Yemen in the 9th century. The sultanate disintegrated during the 16th century into small independent states, many of which were ruled by Somali chiefs. Zeila became a dependency of Yemen, and was then captured by the Ottoman Empire.

A European Colonization

The first European power in the region was Britain. In order to protect British trade routes and provide safe anchorage for ships, Britain took possession of Aden (now in the Republic of Yemen) on the Arabian coast in 1839. Subsequently, about 1875, Egypt, disregarding Turkish claims, occupied some of the towns on the Somali coast and part of the adjacent interior. When the Egyptian troops left the area in 1882 to help stem the revolt of Muhammad Ahmad (known as the Mahdi) in the Sudan, Britain occupied the territory in order to safeguard the route to India through the Suez Canal, which had been opened in 1869. In 1887 a British protectorate, known as British Somaliland, was proclaimed. The protectorate, initially a dependency of Aden, was placed under the administration of the British Foreign Office in 1898 and of the Colonial Office in 1905.

Italian interest in the Somali coast developed in the late 19th century. By the terms of the treaties with native Somali sultans, and conventions with the United Kingdom, Ethiopia, and Zanzibar, Italy acquired a foothold along the Indian Ocean coast.

British control of the interior of the protectorate was challenged by native revolts between 1899 and 1910. In 1910 the British abandoned the interior and withdrew to the coastal regions. They finally subdued the rebels in 1920. During this period Italy extended control over the area inland from the Indian Ocean coast by the Treaty of London in 1915 and by various postwar agreements. In 1936 Italy merged Italian Somaliland, Eritrea, and the newly conquered Ethiopia into the colonial state of Italian East Africa. After the Italian entrance into World War II (1939-1945) on the side of Germany in 1940, Italian troops invaded British Somaliland and succeeded in expelling the British. The United Kingdom reconquered its protectorate in 1941.

By the terms of the Italian peace treaty adopted in 1947, Italy was forced to renounce title to the possessions in Africa, and responsibility for disposition of these colonies was allocated to the so-called Big Four (the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or USSR). In 1948 the Big Four, having failed to reach an agreement on disposition, referred the matter to the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN). A plan granting independence to Italian Somaliland after ten years as a UN trust territory under Italian administration was approved by the General Assembly in November 1949. On April 1, 1950, after Italy had accepted the terms of a UN trusteeship agreement, the British military government was replaced by a provisional Italian administration. The territory was named Somalia.

B Independence

On July 1, 1960, by agreement with the UN Trusteeship Council, Somalia was granted independence. It merged thereupon with the former British protectorate, to which the United Kingdom, by prearrangement, had given independence on June 26. The first president, Aden Abdullah Osman Daar, elected in 1960, was defeated for reelection in 1967 by the former premier Abdi Rashid Ali Shermarke. On October 15, 1969, Shermarke was assassinated, and days later a military group, led by Major General Mohamed Siad Barre, seized power. In 1970 Barre declared Somalia a socialist state, and in the following years most of the modern economy of the country was nationalized. A drought in 1974 and 1975 caused widespread starvation.

In mid-1977 ethnic Somalis in the adjacent Ogadçn region of Ethiopia initiated open warfare aimed at ending Ethiopian control of the area. The rebels were armed by Somalia, which also contributed troops to the effort. The Somalis captured most of the Ogadçn by late 1977, but Ethiopia, aided by Cuba and the USSR, reasserted control over the region in early 1978, as Somalia’s army suffered heavy losses. Subsequent fighting in the Ogadçn precipitated a flood of refugees into Somalia; the number of homeless in 1981 was estimated at close to 2 million. The United States gave both humanitarian and military aid and was in return granted use of the naval facilities at Berbera, previously a Soviet base.

Opposition to Barre’s rule began to coalesce in 1981 after Barre chose members of his own Marehan clan for government positions while excluding members of the Mijertyn and Isaq clans. Insurgent groups from those clans initiated clashes with government troops beginning in 1982. A peace accord ended hostilities with Ethiopia in 1988, but the civil war intensified, despite Barre’s attempts to placate insurgents by proposing a multiparty government. By 1989 only Mogadishu and portions of Hargeysa and Berbera were firmly in government control. In 1990 the clans opposing Barre formed a united front to fight the war. Barre was forced to flee the capital in January 1991, and was eventually accepted for asylum in Lagos, Nigeria, where he died of a heart attack in 1995.

C Civil War

While the clans had been successful in coordinating their efforts to depose Barre, forming a coalition to govern the country proved more difficult. During the 23 months following Barre’s overthrow about 50,000 people were killed in factional fighting, and an estimated 300,000 died of starvation as it became impossible to distribute food in the war-ravaged nation. On December 9, 1992, a contingent of U.S. Marines landed near Mogadishu, the vanguard of a UN peacekeeping force sent to restore order. International agencies soon resumed food distribution and other humanitarian aid, interrupted in 1993 by sporadic outbreaks of violence. The UN mission became mired as it evolved from one of relief to that of rebuilding a Somali government. The UN force targeted powerful clan leader Mohamed Farah Aidid, viewing him as the biggest threat to the establishment of a transitional government, but repeatedly failed to capture him. Clashes between Somali factions and UN troops became frequent, and an estimated 1,000 Somali were killed. Troops from the United States, which had withdrawn in March 1994 after 30 of its members were killed and 175 wounded, returned in February 1995 to cover the departure of the remaining UN peacekeeping force in March. Despite failing to restore peace, an estimated 300,000 lives had been saved from famine by the international relief effort.

As Somalia descended into chaos in 1991 the northern region of Somaliland (former British Somaliland) declared itself an independent republic. While independent Somaliland is not recognized by the UN, it has its own president, legislature, currency, and constitution. Southern Somali warlords have attacked Somaliland, and the breakaway republic also suffers from internal fighting and economic stagnation.

Aidid declared himself president of Somalia in June 1995, though this position was not recognized by rival clans. In late 1995 and early 1996 battles, Aidid’s forces captured strategic territory in the south and parts of Mogadishu. Aidid died in July 1996 from gunshot wounds received in a street battle and was succeeded as nominal president by his son Hussein Mohammad Aidid.

In the second half of the 1990s a number of cease-fires between factions were declared in hopes of holding a clan leader summit to work out a national government. Renewed fighting disrupted each of these agreements. The main clan leaders met in Cairo, Egypt, in December 1997 and agreed to a plan to convene a conference of hundreds of rival clan members to elect a new national government. However, clan fighting continued throughout 1998 and 1999, and the planned conference was repeatedly postponed.

The conference was finally held in mid-2000 in Djibouti. Over several months, hundreds of Somalia’s clan leaders, warlords, and politicians debated the establishment of a new central government. In August the conference elected a transitional legislative body and a president, Abdiqasim Salad Hassan. The new government faced numerous challenges as it attempted to establish control over Somalia, including sporadic clan warfare, a devastated infrastructure, and the question of how to reintegrate Somaliland and another northern breakaway republic called Puntland.

Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopedia 2003. © 1993-2002 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
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Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, political and social concepts referring to guarantees of freedom, justice, and equality that a state may make to its citizens. Although the terms have no precise meaning in law and are sometimes used interchangeably, distinctions may be made. Civil rights is used to imply that the state has a positive role in ensuring all citizens equal protection under law and equal opportunity to exercise the privileges of citizenship and otherwise to participate fully in national life, regardless of race, religion, sex, or other characteristics unrelated to the worth of the individual. Civil liberties is used to refer to guarantees of freedom of speech, press, or religion; due process of law; and other limitations on the power of the state to restrain or dictate the actions of individuals. The two concepts of equality and liberty are overlapping and interacting; equality implies the ordering of liberty within society so that the freedom of one person does not infringe on the rights of others.


The concept that human beings have inalienable rights and liberties that cannot justly be violated by others or by the state is linked to the history of democracy. It was first expressed by the philosophers of ancient Greece. Socrates, for example, chose to die rather than renounce the right to speak his mind in the search for wisdom. Somewhat later the Stoic philosophers formulated explicitly the doctrine of the rights of the individual (see Stoicism). Traces of libertarian doctrine appear in the Bible and in the writings of the Roman statesman Marcus Cicero and the Greek essayist Plutarch. Such ideas, however, did not gain a permanent place in the political structure of the Roman Empire and all but disappeared during medieval times.

A Early Development

Individual freedom can survive only under a system of law by which both the sovereign and the governed are bound. Such a system of fundamental laws, whether written or embodied in tradition, is known as a constitution. The idea of government limited by law received effective expression for the first time in the Magna Carta (1215), which checked the power of the English king. The Magna Carta did not stem from democratic or egalitarian beliefs; rather, it was a treaty between king and nobility that defined their relationship and laid the basis for the concept that the ruler was subject to the law rather than above it. The development of constitutional government was slowed by the persistence of the ideas of absolutism, the belief that all political power should be in the hands of one individual, and divine right, which held that kings derived their power from—and were only accountable to—God. The reigns of the Tudor and Stuart monarchs in England were marked by fierce conflicts between the Crown and Parliament.

On the European continent the struggle between authoritarian and libertarian principles developed around religious rather than secular issues. During the Reformation, freedom of religious belief and practice was a primary concern. Tolerance was rare; as late as 1612, for instance, members of the Unitarian sect were burned as heretics in England (see Unitarianism). Not until the end of the 18th century did the ideals of religious toleration become firmly established in Western civilization.

As a result of the English, American, and French revolutions, libertarian ideals were embodied in the structure of national governments. In England, the struggle between Parliament and the absolutist Stuart monarchs culminated in the so-called Glorious Revolution of 1688. King James II was expelled, and the new king, William III, gave royal assent (1689) to the Declaration of Rights, which guaranteed constitutional government. Subsequently, the monarch’s prerogatives were limited by statute and custom. The constitutional system is described in the writings of the English philosopher John Locke, which profoundly influenced the leaders of the American colonies.

The 17th century was marked also by the growth of individual freedom in Great Britain. In the common law courts, for example, the judges became more concerned for the rights of those accused of crime, and procedural safeguards were established.

B Spread of Civil Liberties

British colonists brought the concepts of limited government and individual freedom to the New World. The early laws of Virginia, Massachusetts, and other colonies reflected interest in the reform of criminal procedure that was emerging in Great Britain. A notable event in the history of civil liberties was the successful defense (1735) in New York by the colonial lawyer Andrew Hamilton of the printer and publisher John Peter Zenger, who had been charged with seditious libel for criticizing the colonial government in his publication the New York Weekly Journal. See The Trial of John Peter Zenger

The events leading to the American and French revolutions inspired writings that laid the foundations for modern ideas of civil liberties by such authors as the French philosophers Voltaire and Jean Jacques Rousseau, the British reformer John Wilkes and the philosopher Jeremy Bentham, the Anglo-American writer Thomas Paine, and the American statesman Thomas Jefferson. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in France and the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution formally established libertarian principles as a foundation of modern democracy.

Although civil liberties are often considered an integral part of democratic government, the principles of limited government and personal freedom were developed in England at a time when political power was held by an aristocratic upper class. Similarly, in the American colonies, many founding fathers did not favor democracy in the modern sense. Conversely, history offers numerous examples of countries in which political power is formally vested in representative assemblies, but enforcement of law is arbitrary or despotic, and minorities have few safeguards against the tyranny of majorities.


The civil rights and liberties of U.S. citizens are embodied in the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution. The 1st Amendment guarantees freedom of speech, press, assembly, and religious exercise as well as separation of church and state (see Speech, Freedom of; Press, Freedom of the; Freedom of Religion). The 4th Amendment protects the privacy and security of the home and personal effects and prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. The 5th through 8th amendments protect persons accused of crime; they guarantee, for example, the right to trial by jury, the right to confront hostile witnesses and to have legal counsel, and the privilege of not testifying against oneself. The 5th Amendment also contains the general guarantee that no one shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law (see Due Process of Law). Originally these amendments were binding only on the federal government. However, decisions by the Supreme Court of the United States have established that the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment (ratified in 1868) applies many of the guarantees in the Bill of Rights to actions by state and local governments.

A Religious Freedom

Although religious freedom has not generally been curtailed in the U.S., Roman Catholics, Jews, and members of such unconventional Protestant groups as the Oneida Community and the Mormon sect have sometimes been persecuted. With the exception of sporadic acts against groups such as the Church of Scientology and the Unification Church, religious discrimination has diminished.

The federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as many state and local laws, prohibits religious discrimination. The government recognizes the right of religious pacifists to refuse to bear arms, even in time of war. The Supreme Court has ruled that this right, known as conscientious objection, need not be based only on religious training or belief in a supreme being. The Court has also upheld the right of Jehovah’s Witnesses to refuse to salute the flag. Applying the principle of separation of church and state (see Church and State), the Court has struck down attempts to use public funds to finance religious schools; at times, however, the Court has permitted the use of public funds for buildings and other nonsectarian programs of religious schools. In the 1960s the Court ruled that state-composed prayers and Bible reading in public schools violated the Constitution. Efforts to reverse these rulings were unsuccessful, but in recent years the Court has been less vigilant in scrutinizing government aid to religion; for example, it has upheld a community’s right to place religious displays on public property.

B Freedom of Speech, Press, and Assembly

Civil liberties have been most endangered during periods of national emergency. In 1798 hostility toward revolutionary France led Congress to enact the Alien and Sedition Acts, which stripped aliens of nearly all civil rights and threatened freedom of speech and the press by prohibiting “false, scandalous and malicious writing” against the government, Congress, or the president. The constitutionality of these acts was never tested, but they were not reenacted and are now generally agreed to have been unconstitutional.

During the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln gave his principal military officers wide and unreviewed authority to arrest civilians for disloyal speech or acts. After World War I, fear of the newly established Communist government in the Soviet Union led to the harassment of suspected subversives by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The rise of National Socialism in Germany, the spread of communism, and the Great Depression of the 1930s all combined to arouse concern for the internal security of the U.S. The federal legislative and executive powers to deal with disloyal acts was enlarged. In 1940 Congress passed the Smith Act, which outlawed the advocacy of force and violence as a means of bringing about changes in government. In 1950 Congress adopted the Internal Security Act, which established a new federal agency for identifying and suppressing so-called subversive persons and organizations. Congress virtually outlawed the Communist Party in 1954, although membership in the party was not expressly made criminal. These statutes were upheld by the Supreme Court, but eventually were limited in scope and fell into disuse during the 1960s. In 1969 the Court adopted a constitutional standard that protected political speech unless it was “directed to inciting … imminent lawless action” and was likely to produce such action.

In the 1950s congressional and state investigating committees conducted widely publicized hearings at which thousands of individuals were questioned concerning their political activities and associations, if any, with the Communist Party. Among the legislators prominently identified with these investigations were Senators Patrick McCarran of Nevada and Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin. The Supreme Court subsequently limited such proceedings.

New problems emerged during the 1960s and ’70s. Demonstrations by opponents of racial discrimination and the Vietnam War, and government attempts to restrict these demonstrations, led the Supreme Court to specify where, when, and how streets, parks, and other public places could be used for purposes of protest. At the same time, certain symbolic forms of expression were employed by the protesters, leading to court rulings upholding criminal punishment for the burning of draft cards but reversing convictions for the mutilation of the American flag as a form of expression. The Court held in 1989 and 1990 that neither the federal government nor the states could single out the burning of the American flag for criminal penalties.

The attempted publication by the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other newspapers of the so-called Pentagon Papers led to a major Supreme Court decision that prior restraints on publication of national security material could not be enjoined unless such material “will surely result in direct, immediate and irreparable damage to our nation or its people.” (see Censorship)

In 1964 the Supreme Court ruled for the first time that libelous statements about public officials were protected by the 1st Amendment unless uttered with “actual malice”; that is, with knowledge of their falsehood or with reckless disregard of the facts. Later cases refined this decision but left to the discretion of the states whether to allow defamation actions brought by persons who are neither public officials nor public figures.

The Supreme Court also elaborated its 1957 ruling that obscenity is not constitutionally protected speech. Determining the content of obscenity has been difficult; in 1973 it was defined as speech that, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest, is patently offensive in depicting sexual conduct, and lacks serious literary, political, or scientific value. This vague definition has led to numerous lawsuits involving explicit sexual material. Conservative religious groups and some feminists have attempted to restrict the distribution of pornographic material that is not obscene. The movement achieved limited success, but civil libertarians have led efforts to combat this form of censorship.

One of the most controversial First Amendment cases of the late 1970s did not reach the Supreme Court. When a U.S. Nazi group sought to march in Skokie, Illinois, the home of many Jewish survivors of German concentration camps, emotions were aroused, and the city enacted laws designed to prevent the march. Both federal and state courts upheld the right of this Nazi group, which was represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, to express itself peaceably.

C Criminal Trials and Due Process of Law

A number of Supreme Court rulings have been concerned with the rights of persons accused of crimes. Defendants in state as well as federal criminal cases are assured that they cannot be imprisoned for an offense unless represented by a lawyer, or counsel; if a defendant is impoverished, such counsel must be supplied by the government. Defendants must be warned that they may not be questioned until counsel is provided, and defendants may not be convicted on the basis of confessions obtained by coercion. The Court also ruled that prosecutors may not exclude people from juries on racial or sexual grounds.

The 5th Amendment privilege against self-incrimination was the most controversial constitutional protection during the 1950s and 1960s, when it was invoked by, among others, individuals accused of subversive activities and participation in organized crime. The Court’s interpretation of the Fourth Amendment has also generated controversy; its provisions protecting the security of the person and of dwellings have been cited in disallowing convictions based on evidence obtained by the police illegally. The Court in the 1970s began to narrow its interpretation, a process that has continued into the 1990s as the public has come to favor crime-control measures over the rights of defendants. This climate of opinion has also led to more frequent use of capital punishment and to limitations on the right of prisoners to appeal their convictions on constitutional grounds.

D Privacy

A constitutional right of privacy, drawn from the Bill of Rights provisions protecting the security of home and person, as well as freedom of association, was first recognized by the Supreme Court in 1965. In Griswold v. Connecticut the Court struck down a state law that prohibited the use of contraceptives by a married couple. The decision was later extended to protect the rights of single persons and, in the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973, the right of women to abort an unwanted pregnancy. In 1980, however, the Court refused to apply this ruling to require the federal government to bear the cost of abortions for women who could not afford them. Efforts to reverse Roe v. Wade judicially or by constitutional amendment were unsuccessful. The amendment did not acquire the necessary support, and a divided Supreme Court in 1992 reaffirmed the core holding of Roe while further limiting its scope.

Other test cases of rights of privacy during this period concerned wiretapping and eavesdropping on private conversations, widespread dissemination of personal information through computers, access to information in government files, and the use without consent of pictures and names of celebrities. Although the courts have given some protection to privacy, the results have been relatively minor. For example, the Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that Congress could prohibit states from selling personal information on state drivers’ licenses and motor-vehicle registration records. Additional protection has resulted from legislative enactments such as the federal Privacy Act of 1974 and various state statutes.

E Minority Rights

The most critical civil rights issue in the U.S. has concerned the status of its black minority. After the Civil War the former slaves’ status as free people entitled to the rights of citizenship was established by the 13th and 14th Amendments, ratified in 1865 and 1868, respectively. The 15th Amendment, ratified in 1870, prohibited race, color, or previous condition of servitude as grounds for denying or abridging the rights of citizens to vote. In addition to these constitutional provisions, statutes were passed defining civil rights more particularly. The Supreme Court, however, held several of these unconstitutional, including an 1875 act prohibiting racial discrimination by innkeepers, public transportation providers, and places of amusement.

During the period of Reconstruction the Republican-dominated federal government maintained troops in the southern states. Blacks voted and held political offices, including seats in Congress. Two blacks became senators, and 20 were elected to the House of Representatives during this era. The Reconstruction era aroused the bitter opposition of most southern whites. The period came to an end in 1877, when a political compromise between the Republican Party and southern leaders of the Democratic Party led to the withdrawal of federal troops from the South.

In the last two decades of the 19th century, blacks were disfranchised and stripped of other rights in the South through discriminatory legislation and unlawful violence. Separate facilities for whites and blacks became a basic rule in southern society. In Plessy v. Ferguson, an 1896 case involving the segregation of railroad passengers, the Supreme Court held that “separate but equal” public facilities did not violate the Constitution.

During the first half of the 20th century, racial exclusion, either overt or covert, was practiced in most areas of U.S. life. During World War II black leaders such as A. Philip Randolph protested segregation in military service, and some reforms were introduced. In 1948 President Harry S. Truman signed an executive order integrating the armed forces. The 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education represented a turning point; reversing the 1896 “separate but equal” ruling, the Court held that compulsory segregation in public schools denies black children equal protection under the law. It later directed that desegregated educational facilities be furnished “with all deliberate speed.” Subsequent decisions outlawed racial exclusion or discrimination in all government facilities and facilities involved in interstate commerce, such as public transportation. A state law against racial intermarriage was also ruled invalid (see Miscegenation).

School desegregation was resisted in the South. Federal determination to enforce the court decision was demonstrated in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957, when President Dwight Eisenhower dispatched troops to secure admission of black students into a “white” high school. Nevertheless, in the Deep South progress toward integration was negligible in the years following the Supreme Court decision. In 1966, for example, the overwhelming majority of southern schools remained segregated. By 1974, however, some 44 percent of black students in the South attended integrated schools, and by the early 1980s the number was approximately 80 percent.

In the North and West many black students also attended segregated schools. Such segregation was considered unconstitutional only where it could be proven to have originated in unlawful state action. Public controversy, sometimes violent, continued over the issue of transporting children in school buses long distances from their homes in order to achieve integration. Busing had become necessary because of the concentration of minority populations in the central areas of many cities. The Supreme Court dealt a blow to such busing in July 1974 by, in effect, barring it across school-district lines except on a voluntary basis.

Civil rights for blacks became a major national political issue in the 1950s. The first federal civil rights law since the Reconstruction period was enacted in 1957. It called for the establishment of a U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and authorized the U.S. attorney general to enforce voting rights. In 1960 this legislation was strengthened, and in 1964 a more sweeping civil rights bill outlawed racial discrimination in public accommodations and by employers, unions, and voting registrars. Deciding that normal judicial procedures were too slow in assuring minority registration and voting, Congress passed a voting rights bill in 1965. The law suspended (and amendments later banned) use of literacy or other voter-qualification tests that had sometimes served to keep blacks off voting lists, authorized appointment of federal voting examiners in areas not meeting certain voter-participation requirements, and provided for federal court suits to bar discriminatory poll taxes, which were ended by a Supreme Court decision and the 24th Amendment (ratified in 1964). In the aftermath of the assassination of the civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., Congress in 1968 prohibited racial discrimination in federally financed housing, but later efforts to strengthen the law failed.

An important constitutional issue that has caused public controversy is whether, and to what degree, public and private institutions may use “affirmative action” or “reverse discrimination” to help members of minority groups obtain better employment or schooling. In the 1978 Bakke case, the Supreme Court held that it was unconstitutional for the University of California Medical School at Davis to set an absolute quota for the admission of minority candidates, but the Court approved a Harvard University plan that took race into account for the setting of numerical goals that were not disguised quotas. The Court later ruled that racial preferences by a private corporation designed to remedy prior discrimination did not violate the Civil Rights Act, and it upheld a federal statute that requires a certain percentage of government contracts to be given to minority-owned businesses.

Impressive gains have been made by blacks in education, employment, and to a lesser degree in housing. Nevertheless, historic patterns of hiring and promotion leave nonwhite minorities economically vulnerable, especially in a weak national economy. President Ronald Reagan’s administration slowed down enforcement of certain civil rights laws and opposed government-enforced quotas and “goals and timetables.” The courts have sometimes held inconsistent positions on these complex issues. In 1986, however, the Supreme Court supported the limited use of affirmative action to help minority groups compensate for past job discrimination; in 1987 the Court upheld the right of employers to extend preferential treatment to minorities and women in order to achieve a better balanced workforce. In several close rulings in 1989, however, the Court’s conservative majority moved toward reversing this direction by making it even more difficult for women and minorities to use the courts to remedy discrimination in hiring practices or on the job. In response, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which strengthened affirmative action.

Civil rights have also been denied to Hispanic Americans, particularly Puerto Ricans in the East and Mexican Americans in the Southwest. The problem has followed traditional paths, as rights have been denied in employment, housing, and access to the judicial system.

Asian Americans also have suffered deprivations of civil rights since at least the late 19th century. The forced removal and incarceration of persons of Japanese descent from the West Coast during World War II (1939-1945), which was upheld by the Supreme Court, was a major violation of civil liberties for which Congress apologized and provided reparations in 1990. Asians faced low immigration quotas before the laws were amended in 1965, 1968, and 1977, and in parts of the United States, Asian Americans have been denied equal rights in housing and employment.

F Rights of Women

Historically, American women have been denied their civil rights in suffrage (they were unable to vote until a 1920 constitutional amendment), employment, and other areas. In the 1960s women organized to demand legal equality with men and, after passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, made many gains, especially in employment. During the 1970s efforts continued to change not only unfair practices but also outmoded attitudes toward the role of women in society. In 1972 Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the Constitution and submitted it to the states for ratification. The ERA, however, which was designed to eliminate legal discrimination against women, failed to win the approval of a sufficient number of states; by the June 1982 deadline only 35 of the required 38 states had ratified the amendment. Women have continued to make gains in certain trades and professions, including financial services, medicine, and law, but problems remain in many areas. The Civil Rights Act of 1991 extended to women victims of job bias the right to sue their employers for monetary damages. The act also established a commission to probe the “glass ceiling” that has prevented women and other minorities from advancing to top management. See Women’s Rights.

G Rights of Other Minorities

The struggle for civil rights has not been confined to blacks, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and women. Native Americans for decades were forcibly deprived of their lands and denied civil rights. In 1968 Congress enacted the Indian Civil Rights Act, and the federal courts have heard a number of suits designed to restore to Native American tribes rights to their ancestral lands.

The elderly have also been deprived of their civil rights, especially in employment and to some degree in housing. Federal and state laws have been only partially successful in solving this problem. Former prisoners and mental patients have suffered legal disabilities after their confinement ended, and resident aliens are sometimes denied equal employment opportunities.

Homosexuals, historically, have not had full civil rights because of social and sexual taboos. The number of judicial decisions and laws enacted at the local level to protect gay men and women from discrimination has increased, but the degree of prejudice was heightened in the 1980s by the concern about acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). In 1986 the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution does not bar criminal prosecution for private homosexual relations between consenting adults. Several local governments acted to curtail the rights of lesbians and gay men. By the early 1990s the gay community had organized more effectively than ever before in the effort to assert their rights. In 1996 the Supreme Court ruled that state and local governments cannot deny basic civil rights protections to homosexuals. However, in 1998 the Court refused to hear a challenge to a citizens’ initiative that forbade the city of Cincinnati, Ohio, from passing laws to protect gay people from discrimination.

H International Concerns

To establish the principles of civil liberties and civil rights on an international basis, the United Nations Charter was drawn up after World War II; it states that one of the purposes of the UN is to promote and encourage respect for “human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion.” In 1946 a UN Commission on Human Rights was established. In 1948 the General Assembly adopted a Universal Declaration of Human Rights prepared by the commission and embodying the 18th-century ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity. This declaration, however, is not binding on member states.

Almost all nations deny civil rights to disfavored minorities within their borders. A major obstacle to international protection of human rights is the opposition of most countries to interference with their internal affairs, including questions of the rights of their own citizens. To some degree this difficulty has been overcome through regional arrangements and implementing bodies such as the European Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The administration of President Jimmy Carter in the late 1970s introduced human rights as an element of foreign policy. This initiative was unevenly pressed and sometimes ineffectual, but it increased international awareness of the gravity of the problem of securing human rights for all people. The Reagan administration took a less aggressive stance on human rights violations, claiming that quiet diplomacy was more effective than public threats. During the administrations of presidents Bush and Clinton, human rights issues have become increasingly intertwined with international trade and commercial treaties. Controversy had surrounded the granting of most-favored-nation status to countries alleged to have violated human rights, such as China. Most-favored-nation status guarantees that a country will receive the same terms offered to other trade partners in commercial treaties.

Contributed By:
Norman Dorsen
Jethro K. Lieberman

Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopedia 2003. © 1993-2002 Microsoft
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