Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
April 5, 2006
Fact Sheet: Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: The U.S. Record 2005 - 2006
"All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressers. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you."
On April 5, the Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor will transmit to Congress and release publicly the fourth annual Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: U.S. Record 2005-2006 report, which summarizes the efforts of the U.S. Government to promote democracy and protect human rights in key countries.
Promoting Freedom and Democracy: Cornerstone of U.S. Foreign Policy
The United States seeks to support democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world. The United States must defend liberty and justice because these universally-held principles are right and true for all people everywhere. These nonnegotiable demands of human dignity are protected most securely in democracies. The United States will work to advance human dignity through word and deed, speaking out for freedom and against violations of human rights and allocating appropriate resources to advance these ideals.
A World Free From Tyranny
Today, in growing numbers across the globe, men and women are pressing for their rights to be respected and their governments to be responsive, for their voices to be heard and their votes to count, for just laws and justice for all. Growing also is the recognition that democracy is the form of government that can, over time, best meet the demands of citizens for dignity, liberty, and equality.
In the Broader Middle East, the past year saw indigenous calls for democratic reform, the beginnings of political pluralism, unprecedented elections, and some new protections for women and minorities. The people of Iraq went to the polls three times and held to democracy’s course despite high levels of violence. The men and women of Afghanistan cast their ballots countrywide in the first free legislative elections since 1969. The first post-conflict elections in Liberia resulted in Africa’s first elected female head of state, marking a milestone in Liberia’s transition from civil war to democracy.
Ukraine’s new government, reflecting the democratic will of the people, made notable improvements in respecting human rights. And Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim majority country, strengthened the architecture of its democratic system when, for the first time, citizens directly elected their local and provincial leaders.
In every country where indigenous voices are raised, the United States seeks to support these courageous individuals in pursuit of their right to freedom. The United States stood in solidarity with the brave men and women around the world who took great personal risks to shine the light on human rights abuses and help ensure democratic change.
The Tools We Use
This report describes the many ways American foreign policy helped citizens and governments in 95 countries and territories worldwide turn their increasing demands for human rights and democracy into successful programs of action. A myriad of tools were employed, including bilateral and multilateral diplomatic engagement, foreign assistance, and public outreach.
In Fiscal Year 2005, the United States budgeted $1.4 billion for human rights and democracy programming. At the same time, we continued to bring economic sanctions on systematic human rights violators like the regimes of Burma and Cuba. We 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. We also sought to make international institutions more effective defenders and supporters of human rights and democracy, and provided $10 million in fiscal year 2005 to the UN Democracy Fund.
In all of these efforts on behalf of human rights and democracy, we welcomed the support of other governments and relied on the partnership and expertise of NGOs that do the difficult work daily of defending human rights and building democracy.