Today, in growing numbers across the globe, men and women are pressing for their rights to be respected and their governments to be responsive, for their voices to be heard and their votes to count, for just laws and justice for all. Growing also is the recognition that democracy is the form of government that can, over time, best meet the demands of citizens for dignity, liberty, and equality.
As President Bush stated in his second inaugural address, "... it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world."
In the Broader Middle East, the past year saw indigenous calls for democratic reform, the beginnings of political pluralism, unprecedented elections, and some new protections for women and minorities. The people of Iraq went to the polls three times and held to democracy's course despite high levels of violence. The men and women of Afghanistan cast their ballots countrywide in the first free legislative elections since 1969, even as the Government struggled to expand its authority over provincial centers.
The first post-conflict elections in Liberia resulted in Africa's first elected female head of state, marking a milestone in Liberia's transition from civil war to democracy. Latin American and Caribbean democracies continued to confront the challenges of strengthening weak institutions, fighting corruption, and redressing social inequality. Ukraine's new government, reflecting the democratic will of the people, made notable improvements in human rights performance. And Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim majority country, strengthened the architecture of its democratic system when, for the first time, citizens directly elected their leaders at the city, regency, and provincial levels.
Meanwhile, from Burma to Belarus, China to Cuba, North Korea to Syria, and Iran to Zimbabwe, courageous men and women suffered persecution for exercising their fundamental freedoms of expression, association, assembly, and movement, and against great odds continued to work for peaceful change.
This report describes the many ways American foreign policy helped citizens and governments around the globe turn their increasing demands for human rights and democracy into programs of action.
Secretary of State