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Policy Issues

Human Rights and Democracy

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The protection of fundamental human rights was a foundation stone in the establishment of the United States over 200 years ago. Since then, a central goal of U.S. foreign policy has been the promotion of respect for human rights, as embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Supporting democracy not only promotes such fundamental American values as religious freedom and worker rights, but also helps create a more secure, stable, and prosperous global arena in which the United States can advance its national interests. In addition, democracy is the one national interest that helps to secure all the others. Democratically governed nations are more likely to secure the peace, deter aggression, expand open markets, promote economic development, protect American citizens, combat international terrorism and crime, uphold human and worker rights, avoid humanitarian crises and refugee flows, improve the global environment, and protect human health.

The United States uses a wide range of tools to advance a freedom agenda, including bilateral diplomacy, multilateral engagement, foreign assistance, reporting and public outreach, and economic sanctions. The Department of State works with democratic partners, international and regional organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and engaged citizens to support those seeking freedom.

Read more about what specific bureaus are doing to support this policy issue:

Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL): DRL leads U.S. efforts to promote democracy, to protect human rights and international religious freedom, and to advance labor rights globally. Read more about DRL

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