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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Strategic Goal 7: Democracy and Human Rights


Strategic Goal 7: Democracy and Human Rights

Advance the Growth of Democracy and Good Governance, Including Civil Society, the Rule of Law, Respect for Human Rights, and Religious Freedom

Public Benefit

Extending and defending democracy has long been a centerpiece of U.S. foreign policy.   The United States recognizes that a world composed of democracies will better protect America's long-term national security than a world of authoritarian or chaotic regimes.  The rule of law, open markets, more prosperous economies, and better-educated citizens are all benefits of a democratic form of government, but democratic governance also ensures a more peaceful, predictable world a great and lasting benefit to the United States.

Over the past two decades, there has been an unprecedented expansion of the number of democracies in the world.  Nevertheless there are still too many governments that routinely ignore international human rights and democratic norms, serving as breeding grounds for instability and terror.

Governments that rule by force and violence against their own people are also the most likely to threaten and intimidate their neighbors.  In an age when the destructive capacities of brutal regimes exceed national, and even regional boundaries, addressing human rights violations whether episodic or systemic becomes imperative to the assurance of security throughout the international community.  On a smaller scale, governments that breach their constitutional obligations and the rule of law place the well-being of their societies at risk for the short-term, but ultimately illusory, objective of stability. 

Although democratization must ultimately be a process driven by a society's citizenry, the United States can indeed must be an active catalyst for democratic reform.  Working closely with other USG agencies such as the Departments of Commerce, Defense, and Labor, as well as numerous NGOs that work to promote democracy and human rights around the world, the Department and USAID will implement this objective knowing that any country that persists in abusing its citizens' rights will remain a threat to the long-term security of the United States.

Performance Goal 1

Measures Adopted to Develop Transparent and Accountable Democratic Institutions, Laws, and Economic and Political Processes and Practices

Summary: Projected FY 2004 Performance

Safeguarding democracy means working with other governments and non-governmental groups to create the conditions that make societies healthy, strong, and vibrant societies in which ordinary citizens flourish and tyrants and terrorists cannot thrive.  Democratic ideals and values give voice to a fundamental yearning in every human being freedom and dignity to make a better life for oneself and one's children. The Department must radically reshape the incentives for democratization.  The President's proposed Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) does just this by breaking the mold of how foreign assistance is delivered.   The Department will work with MCA-eligible countries to strengthen their democracies and expand on their successes through a demonstrative effect by being examples for other countries. Although the success of the Department's advocacy starts with a renewed dedication to encouraging democracy, it must build on the practical work of geographic prioritization and comprehensive integration of policy with programming

By combining diplomatic efforts with innovative programs, the Department will endeavor to promote elections, government institutions and their transparency, and broader political and civil society participation in the Muslim world, including Central Asia and what had been considered the democratic exception of the Middle East.   The Middle East Partnership Initiative will be a critical component of the Department's actions to strengthen democracy, civil society, and the rule of law in the region. 

The Department will also work to encourage democratic development in China as that country seeks to cope with social and political demands that may accompany the rapid economic changes taking place there.   Efforts will include pressing for individual liberty and structural reforms in governance.

Examples of FY 2002 Achievements:
Human Rights and Democracy Fund (HRDF) --
The Department initiated large scale funding in the Middle East and substantially increased it China, representing the first Department grants in these regions aimed at cutting edge programs to support democratic reform.
Cuba -- With strong U.S. support, Latin American members of the UN Commission on Human Rights, introduced and helped pass a resolution on Cuba, the only non-democratic state in the Western Hemisphere. More than 10,000 Cubans signed petitions calling for a referendum on democratic change known as the Varela Project. The President's new Cuba initiative will lead to greater outreach to the Cuban people.

In Latin America, the Department will work to ensure that a democracy dividend resulting from reduced corruption, increased legitimacy of political institutions and better governance slows the deterioration of public support for democracy and free market values.  The Department will continue to support organizations that promote government transparency and accountability. 

Africa, where the picture is much more mixed, will require a more nuanced approach.  The Department will seek opportunities to enhance democratic reform efforts, including strengthening the weak governmental institutions and the elements of civil society in fragile democracies.  The Department will work with reformers in authoritarian strongholds such as Zimbabwe to increase the number of democratic states.

In a world marching toward democracy, the United States is a leader, a partner, and a contributor.  The Department will work with other democratic governments to reform multilateral forums such as the
UN Commission on Human Rights.  The Department will also look beyond these more traditional bodies to create new multilateral mechanisms to challenge the rest of the world to live up to internationally recognized democratic standards. 

Through the Community of Democracies and regional democracy caucuses the Department will seek to expand the human rights consensus beyond the rhetoric of treaty ratification to actually changing the reality on the ground.  Regional organizations like the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have enlisted in the struggle for democracy, and USG collaboration with these organizations will cement progress and deepen support for democratic norms. 

Summary: Indicators, Results, and Targets









Indicator #1: Number of Countries Eligible to be Invited to a Ministerial Meeting of the Community of Democracies (CD) (New Indicator).



Invitations sent to 117 countries to participate in CD Ministerial in Seoul.

More countries are eligible for inclusion on invitation list for CD ministerial.

Additional countries are eligible for inclusion on invitation list for CD ministerial.

Indicator #2: Status of Community of Democracies (CD).

CD held its first ministerial in Warsaw.

CD Caucus established and met.

Follow-up ministerial CD took place in Seoul.

Implement Regional meetings per Seoul Action Plan.

Implement Seoul Plan of Action; establish mechanisms to strengthen country and regional groups' ability to address threats to democracy; execute preparations for 2005 CD ministerial in Santiago.

Means and Strategies by Target

Increase the number of countries eligible to attend a CD ministerial meeting.

   Increase support to pro-democracy groups; intensify pressure on non-democratic governments to open political systems.  The Department will emphasize the Middle East, Central Asia, and Latin America.

•         Use HRDF to support cutting-edge projects focusing on development of NGOs, political parties, transparency in governance, and the rule of law.

•         Place the need for democratic reform at the top of U.S. diplomatic agenda with target countries.

  • Engage governments to ensure that they do not hinder political participation through direct or indirect means.
  • Support free and fair elections through training for election commissions, political parties, and election observers.
  • Provide training and other support for independent media outlets and journalists.

•         Provide training in democratic processes to elected officials and representative bodies.

Implement the Seoul Plan of Action, establish mechanisms to strengthen the ability of country and regional groups' to address threats to democracy, prepare for the 2005 CD in Santiago.

•         Develop projects and events to advance action plan goals.

•         Establish working groups to address specific democracy issues such as civic education.

•         Convene and/or participate in regional democracy meetings.

•         Review convening group membership and criteria for CD participation.

Performance Goal 2

Universal Standards Protect Human Rights, Including the Rights of Women and Ethnic Minorities, Religious Freedom, Worker Rights, and the Reduction of Child Labor

Summary: Projected FY 2004 Performance

Judging a country's human rights performance according to internationally accepted norms continues to be a powerful tool, for citizens who refuse to accept empty promises and demand accountability from their governments, and for the international community in its efforts to promote stability and rally against the threats of non-compliance.

Promoting democratic governance remains the best way to ensure protection of human rights.  At the same time, the United States will remain a leading human rights defender, speaking out publicly and forthrightly through such instruments as the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the International Religious Freedom Report.  The Department will not simply rely on naming and shaming, but will develop and implement bilateral strategies to create progress where human rights abuses persist. 

Example of an FY 2002 Achievement:
Partnership Against Sweatshops Program --
The Partnership, with $4 million of projects, has made notable progress working with NGOs, governments, and private enterprise to eliminate sweatshop conditions in more than thirty countries. Projects and associated activities are expanding the number of participating factories and industrial sectors adopting voluntary codes of conduct for worker rights.

Within the USG, the Department will work to ensure increased coordination on human rights programs and initiatives among its bureaus and other USG agencies. 

The Department will provide enhanced training for foreign affairs officers on human rights issues, especially using the Human Rights and International Religious Freedom Reports as case study material.  Department employees in Washington and at missions abroad will have enhanced capabilities to collect, evaluate, and report on human rights abuses and develop strategies to reduce them.  U.S. diplomatic strategies on human rights will continue to include pressing governments with poor human rights records to move toward full observation of internationally respected human rights standards and norms, through bilateral engagement and multilateral human rights mechanisms.

The Department will work to improve and expand the number of multilateral forums addressing human rights issues, including the UN Commission on Human Rights and the Community of Democracies.  The Department will continue to support UN Special Rapporteurs and the High Commissioner for Human Rights in their work to address issues on the global and country-specific levels. 

Recognizing the importance of international religious freedom, the Department will work to fulfill the mandates of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA).  The Department will expand its dialogue with countries of particular concern for international religious freedom in order to improve the religious freedom situation in the worst-performing countries.

The Department will promote development of and respect for voluntary business codes of conduct, internationally recognized worker rights; and the rule of law.  The Department will encourage unions and labor organizations to work transparently and democratically to represent worker interests in a market-based, liberalized economy.  Such efforts will raise the level of workers' protection according to internationally recognized standards, in a way in which flexibility and buy-in from multiple stakeholders results in policies best suited to local circumstances.

Summary: Indicators, Results, and Targets









Indicator #1: Number of UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) Resolutions on Democracy Adopted.

Resolutions on Cuba, Iran, and Iraq passed.  Resolution on China defeated.  No Belarus or North Korean resolutions on table.

UNCHR passed resolution for the third year on Cuba, Iran, and Iraq passed. Resolution on China defeated.  No Belarus or North Korean resolutions on table.


(This Indicator was not tracked because the United States was not a member of the UNCHR in 2002, but was re-elected as a member for 2003.)

UNCHR adopts an increased number (compared to 2002) of country-specific resolutions of the highest interest.

UNCHR adopts a majority of U.S.-priority country-specific resolutions.  UNCHR adopts fifth consecutive democracy resolution and/or new democracy-development resolution.  The United States successfully opposes moves to eliminate country-specific resolutions.

Indicator #2: Number of UNCHR States With Negative Human Rights Records.

Of the fifty-three member states, seventeen had negative human rights records.

Eighteen states had negative human rights records.

UNCHR election in April 2002 returned the United States as a member; United States began work to change UNCHR membership.

Reduce by 20 percent the number of UNCHR states with negative records.

Further reduce the number of UNCHR states with negative records.

Indicator #3: Amount and Quality of Post Reporting on Human Rights Violations Pursuant to Leahy Requirements.

Leahy procedures established for Foreign Ops and Defense funding, but posts are not required to make systematic reports.

The Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) created a database for HR abuses in Colombia and Indonesia.

The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) produced case studies and lessons learned from Leahy implementation.  DRL reopened dialogue with the Bureau of Political and Military Affairs (PM), regional bureaus on standardization of vetting procedures and implementation.

Reporting procedures formulated, including DRL involvement, and put into place,

Reports from all affected countries reflect new guidance.









Indicator #4: Effective Use of the Human Rights Report (HRR) to Promote U.S. Foreign Policy Objectives.

HRR is not linked to policy or activities.


HRR not linked to policy or activities. HRR translated into Vietnamese.

DRL developed strategic plan within the Department to use HRR to promote key policy issues.  Strategy developed to increase number of posts using HRR for public diplomacy efforts.  Introduction of HRRs translated into French, Spanish, and Russian.

Increased number of posts use HRR in public diplomacy.  Choose pilot posts for human-rights-based program implementation plan.  Develop focus on institutional change in HRR. Translate HRR into Chinese and Russian.  More posts in Asia, Latin America, and Europe place the appropriate country reports in translated version on their websites.

Implement HRR-based programs. CRA officers visit posts to assess programs.  Reports by CRA on program implementation.  Add Arabic translation of the HRR.  More posts in Middle East place translated version on their websites.

Indicator #5: Level of Engagement with Foreign Governments and NGOs to Promote and Advocate on Behalf of Religious Freedom in Keeping with Foreign Policy Directives such as the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA)

Some religious prisoners released; discussions on religion laws.

Minor U.S. successes in forestalling or improving bad religion laws in Eastern Europe and Central Asia; some religious prisoners released.

Continuing U.S. influence on some religion legislation; some religious prisoners released; some religious refugees assisted.

Efforts in Eastern Europe result in more religion laws improved; fewer religious prisoners taken, more released; more inter-faith dialogue; more religious reconciliation programs implemented. 

U.S. influence on legislation.

Fewer people detained and imprisoned for religious reasons in three target countries.

Two additional bilateral RF negotiations; discussions with three allies on promoting RF.

IRF advocacy by senior officials and posts.

Interfaith dialog expands because of IRF effort in target country for each IRF officer.

Indicator #6: Intensity of Monitoring, Reporting and Analysis on Behalf of Religious Freedom by the USG and Multilateral Institutions in Keeping With Foreign Policy Directives Such as the IRFA.

IRF Ambassador and IRF office established for one year. Ambassador attended senior staff meetings with Assistant Secretaries; access to Secretary.

Second IRF Report built credibility among NGOs and in Congress.  Improved IRF reporting from U.S. posts abroad.  Vietnam, and China HR dialogues included subject of IRF. 

Third IRF report generally well received. Post reporting remained at improved 2001 levels.  Bilateral HR dialogues with China and Vietnam included subject of IRF.

More IRF advocacy by senior U.S. officials abroad, including from executive and legislative branches.  More advocacy by posts. Consistently high-quality reporting on religious freedom. One additional bilateral IRF negotiation.  Discussions with one or two potential allies on promoting IRF.

IRF reports recognized for high-quality reporting.

Analysis expanded either in report introduction or in separate op-ed piece for major U.S. newspaper or other widely circulated publication.

New resolution or conference reporting on IRF or IRF-related issue agreed to by a multilateral institution due to U.S. intervention.









Indicator #7: Number of Public-Private Partnerships to Advance Respect for Human Rights.

Voluntary Principles for Security and Human Rights (VPs) announced.  Partnership to Eliminate Sweatshops (PESP) grants awarded.

Government of the Netherlands and Newmont Mining adhered to the VPs.

Public-private partnerships created in Central America and Asia to address labor conditions in factories.  Child labor abuses decreased due to programs.

Occidental Petroleum, ExxonMobil, PaxChristi and the Government of Norway joined VPs.  First security managers workshop conducted.  In-country briefings in Colombia.

PESP programs contributed to greater respect for worker rights in Central America and Philippines.  PESP program contributed to workers empowerment enabling negotiation of agreed framework in Costa Rica and Guatemala.

Conduct in-country VP workshops in Nigeria and Colombia with companies, host governments, and NGOs.  Establishment of steering committee to foster continued implementation on the ground.  Approach southern tier governments to gauge willingness to join VPs.

PESP pilot program developed to integrate worker and manager training to strengthen worker rights.  Initiate discussion on harmonization of codes with public and private partners to increase effectiveness of factory compliance monitoring.

New companies and southern tier governments join VPs.  Establish in-country working group in Indonesia and begin implementation in Angola.

Launch PESP pilot program in China or Vietnam to improve worker rights.  Harmonization of codes permits greater number of factories to be inspected and worker rights are strengthened.

Indicator #8: Worker Rights are Strengthened.




Established national plans for the elimination of child labor in Muslim countries.

Increased acceptance of International Labor Organization (ILO) issues in the Muslim world.

Increase implementation of ILO labor standards in Muslim countries.  Increase in respect for worker rights in China.

Increase the number of independent associations of workers in Muslim countries.

Means and Strategies by Target

UNCHR adopts a majority of U.S.-priority country-specific resolutions as well as the fifth consecutive democracy resolution and/or new democracy-development resolution.  The United States successfully opposes moves to eliminate country-specific resolutions.

•         Build coalitions to uphold country resolutions and thematic resolution on democracy.

•         Develop and implement reforms to UNCHR procedures and mechanisms.

•         Convene CD like-minded participants during and beyond UNCHR to collaborate on country and thematic resolutions.

•         Work with new High Commissioner and assist in development of indicators for UNCHR mechanisms.

Continue to decrease the number of UNCHR member states with negative records.

•         Press for recognition of standards of human rights performance and accountability in the selection of future members.

•         Engage CD and/or regional groups to set and implement criteria for membership and for endorsement by international bodies.

•         Propose reforms to subcommission to clarify and limit terms of membership.

Reports from all affected countries reflect new guidance regarding Leahy compliance.

•         Ensure accuracy of reports through clear instruction and feedback.

•         Continue clarification of instructions.

•         Select and disseminate "best practices" to encourage better reporting.

•         Develop and deploy a consolidated databank that draws on internal Department, post, and independent external reporting.

Implement HRR-based programs.  CRA officers visit posts to assess programs.  Reports by CRA on program implementation.  Add Arabic translation of the HRR.  More posts in Middle East put translated HRRs on their websites.

•         Sharpen focus of reports to allow for better use.

•         Extend pilot project for revised drafting and editing procedures to all 196 country reports.

•         Increase consultations with desks/posts to explain new procedures.

•         Redraft HRR instructions to reflect new format.

•         Continue outreach to U.S. ambassadors on HRR/U.S. foreign policy strategy.

•         Continue outreach to key congressional staffers to explain new format and solicit comments.

•         Increase travel to regions to report on programs.

•         Implement routine translation procedures with Language Services and IIP in the Department.

Maintain U.S. influence on legislation.  Have fewer people detained and imprisoned for religious reasons in three target countries.  Have two additional bilateral IRF negotiations and discussions with three allies on promoting IRF.  Senior officials in the Department and at posts advocate IRF.  Interfaith dialogue expands because of IRF effort in target country for each IRF officer.

•         Seek opportunities to influence laws on religious freedom.

•         Use the threat of CPC-designation to enter into negotiations with countries about taking measures to avert designation.

•         Meet with allies in their home countries or at international meetings to seek common approaches and support for IRF issues.

•         Meet with U.S counterparts of religious groups involved in conflicts abroad.

•         Each IRF staffer travels once more than in previous year to increase contact with U.S. ambassadors, political officers, and NGOs in the field.

•         Each IRF staffer works with public diplomacy staff on one IRF outreach program with NGOs in the United States or in a target country.

•         Each IRF staffer works with post in one target country on one reconciliation project.

•         Each IRF staffer works with faith-based groups, multilateral institutions, and government officials from a target country to amend a restrictive law or prevent enactment of harsher law.

IRF reports recognized for high-quality reporting.  Expand analysis either in report introduction or in separate op-ed piece for major U.S. newspaper or other widely circulated publication. Multilateral institution agrees to new resolution or conference reporting on IRF or IRF-related issue, due to U.S. intervention.

•         Ensure high reliability of IRF Report and translate it into additional foreign languages.

•         Work with desks, posts, multilateral institutions and NGOs to increase reporting on religious freedom and causes of its curtailment.

•         Provide training workshops on U.S. IRF policy objectives at the Foreign Service Institute and selected posts

•         Seek funding for translation of IRF Report into additional foreign languages. 

•         Co-sponsor a conference with INL on a timely topic to improve the Department's reporting on IRF issues.

•         Continue outreach to NGOs to improve contacts to facilitate reporting.

Have new companies and southern tier governments join Voluntary Principles (VPs).  Establish an in-country VP working group in Indonesia and begin implementation of VP in Angola.  Launch PESP pilot program in China or Vietnam to improve worker rights.  Harmonize codes so that there are more factories inspections and worker rights are strengthened.

•         Build greater support for voluntary guidelines such as VPs.

•         Implement pilot program on improving work rights in factories in China or Vietnam.

•         Reach out to potential southern tier partners (Mexico, Brazil, and South Africa) and Canada about joining the VPs.

•         Conduct in-country fact-finding mission to Angola.

•         Work with NGOs and brand/factory managers to develop multi-stakeholder approach to improve labor conditions.

•         Convoke meeting of stakeholders on harmonization or reciprocity of codes and monitoring systems for factory reviews.

Increase the number of independent associations of workers in the Muslim world.

•         Identify and assist emerging unions and leaders; advocate legal environments that permit labor organization.

•         Advance multilateral initiatives for promoting labor rights.

•         Increase USG interagency cooperation on labor diplomacy.

•         Fully staff International Labor (IL) office for global coverage.

Summary: Verification/Validation and Crosscutting Activities

Performance Goal 1

Measures adopted to develop transparent and accountable democratic institutions, laws, and economic and political processes and practices.

Verification and Validation

            Multiple sources confirm Department-collected data on human rights abuses and democratic practices and review them for objectivity and accuracy.

            Take into account independently compiled data and indexes of rights and liberties in individual countries, organizational histories, methods, and reputations for credibility.

            Laws adopted by individual countries; standards promulgated by multilateral institutions.

Crosscutting Activities

            Coordination with USAID on assistance strategies for development of civil society, the rule of law, and democratic institution-building.

            Work with Community of Democracies on thematic and regional groupings of nations to develop democracy strategies and disseminate best practices.

Performance Goal 2

Universal standards protect human rights, including the rights of women and ethnic minorities, religious freedom, worker rights, and the reduction of child labor.

Verification and Validation

            General agreement by multiple sources of the importance and credibility of Country reports on human rights practices compiled by the Department (Human Rights Report, International Religious Freedom Report), the UN and other international organizations, and NGOs.

            Resolutions passed and actions taken by international bodies.

            Third country and corporate actions to adhere to voluntary codes of conduct.

            Reports on results of assistance, mediation, and other programs.

            Media commentary and opinion on human rights standards and U.S. policy goals.

Crosscutting Activities

            Collaboration with new UN Commissioner of Human Rights and UNCHR members to strengthen.  The UNCHR is a credible international voice for human rights advocacy.

            Coordination with the Department of Labor on programs aimed at organized labor.

            U.S. embassies with host governments bolster adherence to voluntary principles for corporate social responsibility.


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