Pursuant to the Advancing Democratic Values Act of 2007, the Department of State has prepared this report on U.S. efforts to support democracy and human rights in nondemocratic countries and countries undergoing democratic transitions worldwide.
As Secretary of State Clinton said, “our human rights agenda for the 21st century is to make human rights a human reality. Democracy has proven the best political system for making human rights a human reality over the long term.”
The United States is deeply committed to building a world in which every person has the opportunity to live up to his or her potential. Our commitment derives from the values that are embedded in our founding documents and enshrined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We support democratic development around the globe because we believe that all people should be able to enjoy the rights that are naturally theirs and because the exercise of personal and political freedoms is key to sustained prosperity and lasting security within and among states.
Our efforts to advance freedom and democracy across the globe vary from country to country, but there are common elements to our approach: demonstrating our own commitment to human rights by practicing what we preach; principled engagement with other governments aimed not just at making a point, but at making a difference; outreach to civil society groups and individuals working for positive change within their own countries; support for a broad array of accountability and transparency mechanisms in political and economic spheres; and engaging multilateral institutions at both the global and regional levels.
On every continent, our diplomatic and programmatic support helps amplify the voices of courageous human rights defenders whom repressive governments attempt to silence. We are working to build the capacity of new and fragile democracies so that they can better respond to the needs and hopes of their people. Our assistance is bolstering institutions of democratic accountability such as free and fair electoral processes, strong legislatures, independent judiciaries, responsible law enforcement, and effective anti-corruption mechanisms.
We are working to empower the key elements of civil society such as NGOs and a free media, and helping them extend their reach through new connective technologies. We are partnering with governments, the private sector and civil society groups to promote respect for workers’ and women’s rights, combat intolerance against religious, racial, and ethnic minorities, and protect other vulnerable populations. At the multilateral level, we are collaborating with likeminded governments to strengthen key international institutions such as the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Organization of American States.
The specific activities we highlight in this report are not exhaustive; rather they illustrate examples of the full range of U.S. undertakings to advance freedom and democracy worldwide.
The United States stands with all those who champion human dignity and liberty. The advancement of human rights and democracy is not just the policy of the United States; it is the epitome of who we are as a nation. In that spirit, we hereby submit the Advancing Freedom and Democracy Report for May 2010.