As President Bush has said, “Freedom can be resisted, and freedom can be delayed, but freedom cannot be denied.” In the long run, citizens who sacrifice for their dignity and their rights will prevail, just as the Havels and the Mandelas did before them. Like those towering figures, many of today’s defenders of human rights are denounced and persecuted, vilified as traitors, and targeted for repression by their own governments – just for insisting upon the freedoms enshrined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These impatient patriots are an inspiration to their fellow citizens, and the high standard they set continues to give hope to people everywhere who work peacefully for their liberty, their dignity, and their rights.
These values are the basic endowments of all human beings, and the surest way to protect and preserve them is through effective, lawful, democratic governance. To be sure, no nation’s path to democracy is smooth or straight. Along the way, there are bound to be stumbles and setbacks. Even under the best of circumstances, it is not easy to transform democratic ideals into effective democratic institutions. Transitions to democracy can be unsettling, and progress may falter because of instability and insecurity, crushing poverty and disease. Governments rife with corruption or without adequate resources can fall short of their meeting the high hopes of their people, causing them to lose faith in the promise of a better life. Leaders who are insufficiently committed to reform may revert to authoritarian habits or take disastrous detours from the rule of law. Other governments have not even taken the first step toward guaranteeing the rights of their citizens.
These challenges to human rights, and many others, are fully recorded in the country reports that follow. Still, this document is collected and written with the confidence that no corner of the Earth is permanently condemned to tyranny. Change may take time, but change will come. As long as citizens around the world champion the universal values of human rights, there is hope, and we continue to believe that it is the duty of responsible governments everywhere to support these courageous men and women.
In that spirit, I hereby transmit the Department of State’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2007 to the United States Congress.
Secretary of State