The following information reports U.S. Government priorities and activities of the U.S. mission in Burkina Faso to promote democracy and human rights. For background on Burkina Faso's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
and the International Religious Freedom Reports
Part 1: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives
The U.S. strategy for promoting democracy and human rights in the country focuses on improving democratic processes in advance of the next round of presidential, municipal, and parliamentary elections in 2010, 2011, and 2012, with a long-term view to the 2015 presidential election and possible political transition. This includes building the capacity of political parties in general and female political leadership in particular. Strengthening and professionalizing the media and increasing press freedom are also priority areas. A U.S. NGO was awarded a U.S. Assistance program grant to conduct capacity building programs with a dozen political parties. The specific objectives were: to enhance communication skills, improve strategic planning, and strengthen the capacity of political parties to participate effectively in local governance. Additional areas of concentration include combating corruption, maintaining religious freedom and ethnic tolerance, and rehabilitating victims of and eliminating trafficking in persons and exploitive child labor, particularly in the mining sector.
Part 2: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance
The U.S. Government encourages the strengthening of democratic processes in advance of the 2010, 2011 and 2012 elections, using a variety of diplomatic and programmatic tools. For example, U.S. officials speak regularly with the leaders of both political opposition and ruling CDP parties throughout the country to encourage democratic participation, interparty dialogue, and peaceful democratic processes. The U.S. Government funded one youth association to build the capacity of young people to participate effectively in the democratic process. The United States also provided funding to increase the capacity of women to be leaders in their political organizations and to strengthen political parties. The U.S. funds a regional project to eliminate exploitive child labor in the mining sector.
To promote freedom of speech and of the media, the U.S. Government created fora where media professionals and academics can exchange ideas and discuss issues of freedom. In FY 2009 the U.S. Government hosted educational programs for young Burkinabe lawyers centered on civil and political rights in America and also examined the role of young intellectuals in African democracies. Discussions with university students about the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the vision of President Barack Obama were also organized. The American Center sponsored a program on the Harlem Renaissance, highlighting the contribution of African-Americans to civil liberties in the United States. A lecture/discussion program examined anticorruption measures in America. The U.S. Government also promoted American culture through music and movies, highlighting the role of the arts in a peaceful democracy. Women political leaders, national assembly staff, and government officials attended events that examined women's rights, tolerance and fair elections issues.
The U.S. Government works to expand respect for the rule of law by encouraging professionalism in the country's armed forces. 129 individuals received military training and education opportunities through programs such as Africa Endeavor, the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS), the Counter Terrorism Fellowship Program (CTFP), International Military Education and Training (IMET), Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) and the Center Of Excellence for Stability Police Unit (COESPU). The participants were trained in the following countries: United States, Uganda, Gabon, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Morocco, Germany, Senegal, Nigeria, Italia and Zambia. The U.S. Government currently is training and equipping a Burkinabe Formed Police Unit (FPU) for future deployment in Darfur and is conducting refresher ACOTA training for the Burkinabe UNDPKO/UNAMID Laafi battalion. These training and education programs focused on military intelligence, peacekeeping, counter terrorism, piloting courses, rule of law, humanitarian law, and security. The country continues to participate in U.S.-supported military cooperation conferences, exercises, and seminars on topics such as the role of the military in a democracy and building a regional capacity to respond to crisis.