Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

“We enhance our own security, prosperity and progress when people in other lands emerge from shadows and shackles to gain the opportunities we enjoy and treasure.”

--Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State

Pursuant to the Advancing Democratic Values Act of 2007, the Department of State has prepared this report on U.S. efforts to promote democracy and human rights in nondemocratic countries and countries undergoing democratic transitions worldwide.

The deep commitment of the United States to championing democratic principles and the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is driven by the founding values of our nation and the conviction that international peace, security, and prosperity are strengthened when human rights and fundamental freedoms are respected and protected. As the United States seeks to advance human rights and fundamental freedoms around the world, we do so cognizant of our own commitment to live up to these ideals at home and to meet our international human rights obligations.

Although some of our work is conducted through government-to-government channels, we reach beyond government to work with NGOs, businesses, religious leaders, schools and universities, and individual citizens – all of whom play a vital role in creating a world where democratic principles and human rights are accepted, respected, and protected.

In accordance with the Act’s definition of nondemocratic and democratic transition countries, we have reported our priority efforts in 106 countries. The specific activities we highlight in this report – bilateral programs, public diplomacy, multilateral initiatives, cooperation with international and country-based organizations, and assistance programs — are meant to be illustrative, not exhaustive, of the full range of U.S. undertakings to advance personal and political freedoms worldwide.

We have concentrated our efforts on practical ways to strengthen the following core electoral, institutional, and societal elements that are essential to the development of participatory democracies in which all people can freely exercise their human rights and contribute to their countries' progress:

  • Free and fair electoral processes that include not only a clean casting and honest counting of ballots on election day, but also a run-up to the voting that allows for real competition and full respect for the freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, and association;
  • Representative, accountable, transparent institutions of government, including independent judiciaries, under the rule of law to ensure that leaders who win elections are responsive to the will and needs of the people once in office; and
  • Vibrant civil societies, including independent NGOs and free media.

We are deeply committed to working in partnership with other governments and civil society actors to improve the lives of men, women, and children across the globe through the advancement of human rights and democratic principles.

In that spirit, we hereby submit the Advancing Freedom and Democracy Report for May 2009.