Date of Award

Summer 8-12-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Michael Bruner

Second Advisor

Mary Stuckey

Third Advisor

James Darsey


This thesis explores the hermeneutic opportunities in the United Nations’ human rights documents which are used by states, like the United States, to rhetorically circumvent the responsibilities the documents place on U.N. member states. The way these opportunities are strategically used is examined through case studies of the Clinton administration attempts to evade involvement in the Bosnian and Rwandan genocides. News conferences, press briefings and speeches are used to do a rhetorical analysis of Clinton’s strategy in order to determine how that strategy was shaped by the constraints and opportunities of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.