"The most widespread and dramatic violations in 2015 were those in the Middle East, where the confluence of terrorism and the Syrian conflict caused enormous suffering," Kerry said.
"Given the horrors of these past five years, I cannot imagine a more powerful blow for human rights than putting a decisive end to this war, to the terror, to the repression and especially to the torture, to the indiscriminate bombing, and therefore make possible a new beginning for the people of Syria."
"I want to remove even a scintilla of doubt or confusion caused by statements others have made in recent weeks and months," Kerry said in his speech.
"The United States is opposed to the use of torture in any form, at any time, by any government or non-state actor. America's commitment to the humane treatment of persons in captivity began as far back as General George Washington in the Revolutionary War....Ultimately, upholding core values is what makes a nation strong."
"The point that we make over and over again is that respecting human rights isn't just a moral obligation, it's an opportunity to harness the full energy of a country's population in building a cohesive and prosperous society."
Kerry also mentioned that although Vietnam is a single-party state, Hanoi, which is a member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, has pledged to allow the formation of independent trade unions for the first time, which is a "potential significant advance for freedom of association for workers."
Kerry said that the U.S. is "deeply committed to the search for a political solution to the conflict in Syria." Full access to humanitarian supplies, an end to hostilities, release of the most vulnerable prisoners, and a Syrian-led political transition in accordance to the Geneva treaty are just a few things the U.S. wants to happen in the Middle East.
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[Photo by AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana]