Sidebar on Democracy, Good Governance, and Human Rights

Bureau of Resource Management
April 21, 2011

Photo showing Secretary Clinton delivering a speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany on the 20th anniversary of the dismantling of the Berlin Wall.

Secretary Clinton delivers a speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany on the 20th anniversary of the dismantling of the Berlin Wall. ©AP Image

U.S. leadership in promoting human rights and democracy is a national tradition, a moral imperative, and a national security priority. The United States has long acknowledged the link between democratic governments, free societies, and peaceful nations; and devoted diplomatic efforts and foreign assistance to encourage free elections, democratic governance, and protection of human rights based on international standards. While this commitment to promoting human rights and democracy is part of U.S. history, the dialogue on these issues continues to evolve. The Administration devotes attention to a broad range of human rights issues and is committed to promoting democracy and human rights even in those places where doing so is most difficult.

The Department of State and USAID are working with a wide range of partners within and outside of government to support these principles. U.S. foreign assistance programs often operate in countries where egregious human rights violations occur, democracy and human rights advocates are under pressure, and governments are not democratic or are in transition. Foreign assistance programs also support democratic consolidation and prevent backsliding in new or fragile democracies, and play a vital role in promoting stabilization, reform, and recovery in crisis and rebuilding societies. The United States multipronged effort focuses on institutionalizing democratic gains and protecting human rights, including international religious freedom; encouraging freedom of expression and access to information; promoting the rule of law; advancing respect for labor rights—including through engagement with the business community—and establishing standards for the global business environment; defending the rights of people with disabilities; increasing the transparency, responsiveness, and accountability of government institutions; and amplifying the voices of civil society and human rights activists.