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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

U.S. Human Rights and Democracy Strategy

Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: The U.S. Record 2005 - 2006
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor

The United States applies a wide range of diplomatic tools in support of human rights and democracy across the globe. This report summarizes our strategy in every region, and describes what we did to support indigenous reform efforts in 95 countries over the past year.

As President Bush has said in January 2005: "Freedom, by its nature, must be chosen, and defended by citizens, and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities. ... America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom, and make their own way."

To further that goal, the United States responded to the growing global demand for greater personal and political freedom by supporting the efforts of those calling for reform. We stood in solidarity with the brave men and women around the world who were persecuted by repressive regimes for exercising their rights. By on-the-ground interaction with government officials, civil society organizations and individuals, and through multilateral engagement on the regional and global levels, we defended international human rights standards and advanced democratic principles.

So that fellow democracies can better deliver democracy's blessings to their people, we helped them strengthen their institutions of government and sink deeper roots for the rule of law. We encouraged the full participation of all citizens, including women and minorities, in the public life of their countries. To ensure that the will of the people would prevail, we promoted political pluralism and helped to level playing fields so that elections would meet international standards. We called to account democratically elected governments that did not govern democratically. And, as they came under siege in many countries around the world, we championed the vital contributions to democracy of independent media and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).

In Fiscal Year 2005, the United States budgeted $1.4 billion for human rights and democracy programming. We also fostered democratic reform efforts through well targeted development assistance, such as the innovative Millennium Challenge Account, which links a country's eligibility for poverty alleviation funding to good governance. At the same time, we continued to bring economic sanctions to bear on systematic human rights violators like the Burmese and Cuban regimes. In concert with the Group of 8 industrialized nations (G-8) and regional governments and NGOs, the United States launched two new institutions to foster indigenous reform in the Broader Middle East and North Africa -- the Foundation for the Future, which supports civil society; and the Fund for the Future, which supports investment. Finally, the United States sought to make international institutions more effective defenders and supporters of human rights and democracy. To that end, in Fiscal Year 2005 we provided $10 million to the United Nations Democracy Fund and pressed for the creation of a new, credible Human Rights Council at the United Nations that excludes the worst violators.

In all of these efforts on behalf of human rights and democracy, the United States welcomed the partnership of other governments and we sought the ideas and expertise of NGOs that do the hard work of defending human rights and building democracy citizen by citizen, institution by institution, and country by country each and every day.

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