Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor


The following information reports U.S. government priorities and activities of the U.S. mission in Mauritania to promote democracy and human rights. For background on Mauritania's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices the International Religious Freedom Reports at

Part I: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives

Mauritania's July 2009 elections have allowed for more robust engagement on key U.S. objectives including sustaining the country's fragile democracy, building capacity to deter terrorist and extremist threats, supporting democratic development based on rule of law and respect for human rights, and encouraging political dialogue between the government and opposition groups.

Part II: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance

U.S. Government foreign assistance to Mauritania was suspended after the August 2008 military coup. Sanctions were lifted officially in September 2009 following the June 2009 Dakar Accord and Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz's election in July 2009. The United States works in close collaboration with the government in the design and implementation of counter-extremism programs. Counter-extremism initiatives include the Peace Through Development as well as youth outreach through sports tournaments in partnership with local mayors and imams to stress the importance of tolerance. Public diplomacy events showcase President Obama's Cairo initiative and the Muslim experience in the U.S. through round tables and visits by Muslim-American speakers. The State Department's Special Representative to Muslim Communities visited the country in April 2010 to engage in dialogue with the government and civil society and to explore ideas and potential partnerships to reach out to youth. Four Mauritanians participated in the President's Entrepreneurial Summit in Washington D.C. in April 2010. The U.S. Government engaged in youth programming through English training for students, cultural events, American Corners, and an Information Resource Center offering computer access and mentoring sessions for students. Finally, the U.S. contributed to the preservation of ancient Islamic manuscripts and key heritage sites through the Ambassador's Fund for Cultural Preservation.

The United States supported democratization by playing an active role in encouraging Mauritania's return to constitutional order through the June 2009 Dakar Accord. The U.S. funded voter education programs during the period leading to the July 2009 election. It also funded a joint government-UNHCR effort to repatriate Afro-Mauritanians expelled to Senegal during the 1989 ethnic unrest. It has invested in civic education programs targeting youth and will fund a civic education program for vulnerable populations in conjunction with mayors and political parties. The U.S. will launch an initiative to fight slavery through programs targeting women and children. U.S. programs also contribute to the establishment of a viable press through trainings for journalists and cyber journalists.

In the development field, the United States remains one of the largest bilateral donors of food and humanitarian assistance. A significant PL-480 program supports maternal and child health programs in southern Mauritania, while other programs are focused on HIV/AIDS and family planning. The Africa Development Foundation works with small to medium organizations to stimulate economic growth.