Strategic Goal 2 - Selected Strategic Priorities and Analyses

Bureau of Resource Management
February 24, 2012

RULE OF LAW AND HUMAN RIGHTS: Advance and protect human and individual rights and promote societies where the state and its citizens are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced, and independently adjudicated, consistent with international norms and standards.

Analysis: The United States supports programs that help countries build the necessary rule of law infrastructure, particularly in the justice sector, to uphold and protect their citizens' basic human rights. The rule of law is a principle of governance under which all persons, institutions, and entities, public and private, including the state itself, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced, independently adjudicated, and consistent with international laws, norms, and standards. Improved case management leads to a more effective justice system by decreasing case backlog and case disposition time, reducing administrative burdens on judges, increasing transparency of judicial procedures, and improving compliance with procedural law.

A total of 742 courts improved their case management systems as a result of U.S. assistance in FY 2011, exceeding the target of 624. A strong commitment to justice sector reform by the newly elected President of Haiti increased the number of courts the U.S. Government was able to assist there. In Colombia, the training of judges and court staff was so well received that demand for the training enabled U.S. programs to assist more courts than initially planned.

CIVIL SOCIETY: Strengthen democratic political culture and citizen engagement by supporting the means through which citizens can freely organize, advocate, and communicate with members of their own and other governments, international bodies, and other elements of civil society.

Analysis: The Department exceeded the target for the illustrative indicator relative to Strategic Goal 2 Increased civic activism in priority countries with repressive regimes, as measured by the percent of civil society activists and organizations able to sustain activities after six months of receiving U.S. support. This performance indicator is a key measure of the joint Department of State-USAID High Priority Performance Goal for Democracy, Good Governance, and Human Rights, and illustrates the Department's performance in an area that links key policy priorities to the Department's budget under Strategic Goal 2. The focus on this policy priority will continue with the new APG's.

Protecting the fundamental freedoms of association, assembly, expression, and religion represents an important aspect of U.S. foreign policy. The Department is leveraging key foreign assistance and diplomatic tools to support local activists in creating conditions necessary to reverse a trend in recent years of a shrinking enabling environment for civil society around the world. The recent events in the Middle East and North Africa remind us of the challenges human rights activists and civil society face in their work to protect citizens' rights. In February 2011, Secretary Clinton launched the State Department's first Strategic Dialogue to underscore our commitment to supporting and defending civil society around the world. The Dialogue enhances efforts to amplify the voices of activists and to provide protection for civil society where we can. In support of this important commitment, the Lifeline: The Embattled NGOs Assistance Fund was created this year with support from twelve other democratic nations. In FY 2011, in a selection of 14 targeted countries, 20 percent of activists and organizations were able to continue activities six months after receiving U.S. support. The percentage of actual number of human rights activists and defenders, supported by U.S. Government funds, who are advocating for a more open civil society within repressive regimes, exceeded the established target. This is evidence that these activists are becoming more aware of mechanisms to sustain their ongoing civil society advocacy efforts despite rising restrictions.

Analysis: A fully participatory, democratic state must include an active and vibrant civil society in which individuals can peacefully exercise their fundamental rights. Free media (including print, broadcast, and the Internet) as the voice of civil society, are essential to building and sustaining democracy. Journalists often serve as a necessary check to the government. U.S. assistance in this area focus on: 1) increasing the ability of media actors to provide representative and responsible coverage; 2) developing innovative information sharing to strengthen independent media outlets; and 3) training journalists in ethics and rights. In FY 2011, the U.S. Government provided assistance to 1,507 non-state news outlets, slightly below the target of 1,624. The lower result reflects a post-presidential elections crackdown on civil society in Belarus and a shift in media strategy in Russia from traditional media outlets towards newer Internet-based technologies, which are becoming more widely used as a source of information.

South Sudan

Photo showing a woman in Kapoeta, Eastern Equatoria, casting her referendum ballot on January 10, 2011.

A woman in Kapoeta, Eastern Equatoria, casts her referendum ballot on January 10, 2011. USAID

On July 9, after decades of civil war and the loss of more than 2 million lives, South Sudan seceded from Sudan and became the world's newest nation-a peaceful and democratic division of what used to be Africa's largest country. The event brought joy to the streets and dusty roads of South Sudan, where nearly 99 percent of citizens who voted in a USAID-assisted referendum chose secession last January.

Sudan has for years been the U.S. Government's highest priority in Africa, so the country's division brought changes for the U.S. Government as well. On July 9, USAID's office in Juba became an official South Sudan mission, and the U.S. Consulate became a U.S. Embassy.

As South Sudan embarks on nationhood, USAID seeks to help make the new nation increasingly stable while helping the government deliver basic services to citizens, provide effective, inclusive, and accountable governance, diversify the economy, and combat poverty. Increasing stability in South Sudan will depend on a combination of strengthening core governance institutions and processes and making them more inclusive, responding to the expectations of the population for essential services and improved livelihoods, as well as containing conflicts and addressing the grievances behind them