Currently, the United States spends over $600 billion on defence. Their foreign policy is purely based on fulfilment of interests aligned with their military-industrial complex, laced with a realism perspective.Recently Canada severed its ties with Saudi Arabia due to human rights violations as a result of detention of human rights activist by the Saudi authorities. In retaliation, Saudi Arabia called back its ambassador in Canada and warned his Canadian counterpart to leave the country immediately. Recently, when Donald Trump was asked to focus US foreign policy in accordance with international human rights laws, in response the US President said that his country had no interest in giving lectures on human rights, and would only adhere to its pursuits and objectives. Ever since the discovery of vast oil reserves in 1938 in Saudi Arabia, the kingdom’s unique power to stabilize or sabotage the world economy has forced the US, western allies and even the United Nations to tiptoe and show leniency towards Saudi human rights abuses, which can be witnessed through the country’s involvement in the escalation of the civil war in Yemen.The wars waged by the US in the twentieth century were primarily aimed to curb the rise of communism. Now, their objectives have shifted to fighting terrorism and exerting their influence over the world, regardless of human rights violations. President Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton severely criticised the International Criminal Court (ICC), the body mandated by most of the international community to prosecute genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Bolton announced that Washington would use any means necessary to push back against the organization’s influence to probe and investigate alleged war crimes in Afghanistan. The recent retaliatory tariff measures on aluminium and steel imports from China and the EU is evidence that US foreign policy has drifted away from free market principles. Such principles, including basic human rights, were the core values of US foreign policyIn recent years, after the September 11 attacks, the US has been fighting a war against terror and has suffered huge losses in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. They have mostly relied on their military power to subdue their opponents and have adopted retaliatory measures to exert their economic clout, as well as blatantly violated human rights laws through pre-emptive strikes.The recent retaliatory tariff measures on aluminium and steel imports from China and the EU is evidence that US foreign policy has drifted away from liberalization and free market principles. Such principles, including basic human rights, were the core values of US foreign policy, especially during the Jimmy Carter administration in the 1970s. However, a lot has changed under the Trump administration. There were times when states framed their foreign policy with other states, keeping in view their track record on human rights violation. For instance, after the Tiananmen Square massacre in China in the late 1980s, many states openly denounced China and called off their diplomatic and consular relations. The US suspended weapons’ sales, communication between high level officials, and civilian nuclear cooperation, as well as implemented sanctions and demanded the postponement of new loans to China from the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank. Outside of the US, Japan and the EU announced sanctions, and Australia and New Zealand cancelled visits of high ranking officials.Ultimately, over four years following Tiananmen, China was denied US$11 billion in bilateral aid. Moreover, China was publically humiliated; its international image and bargaining power damaged. Humiliation is apparent from the fervent attempts undertaken by Chinese diplomats and leaders to minimise public criticism. Even states such as Malaysia and Brazil who typically adhered to a position of non-intervention issued “expressions of regret”. Similarly, EU member states suspended their diplomatic ties from time to time with the apartheid regime of South Africa, and regimes of Serbia and Haiti that were involved in suspension of civil liberties. After the demise of the Soviet Union and at the end of cold war, it was assumed that the triumph of liberal democracy would pave the way for human rights to play a central role in the foreign policy of nations across the world. Furthermore, with the passage of time, the end of totalitarian, kleptocratic and authoritarian regimes, along with the establishment of democratic governments in developing countries, also promised a return to basic human rights.Nevertheless, in the twenty first century with the passage of time we witnessed new states emerging as global powers including China, India, Russia and Brazil. In this multi polar world, it was further thought that the balance of power would bring harmony amongst the states to make human rights a basic tenet of foreign policy. These assumptions proved to be erroneous as at present, foreign policy is aimed at the economic interests of state rather than anything else. For instance, the international community’s role in stopping the massacre of Rohingya Muslims was very disappointing. Burma’s stalled democratic transition gave way to a massive human rights and humanitarian crisis starting in August 2017, when the military launched a large-scale ethnic cleansing campaign against the Rohingya Muslim population in Rakhine State. More than 650,000 Rohingya have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh to escape mass killings, sexual violence, arson, and other abuses amounting to crimes against humanity by the security forces.Same is the case when it comes to killing of innocent civilians in Indian-occupied-Kashmir, where the Indian government is inflicting atrocities upon the people of Kashmir who have been denied the right of plebiscite, blatantly violating the United Nations Security council resolution since 1947.States are not interested in formulating foreign policy in view of human rights because at present they are solely interested in looking out for access to lucrative markets around the world. The conflict between self-interest and adherence to human rights is making it hard for states to formulate foreign policy over the principles of justice and equality. These are the reasons that the response of powerful states to grave human rights violations in Rwanda, Burma, Kashmir, Iraq, Zaire, Syria and Afghanistan has been minimal and ineffectual.The writer is a human rights activist, teacher and a constitutional lawyer. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.orgPublished in Daily Times, September 27th 2018.