The following information reports U.S. Government priorities and activities of the U.S. Mission to the Republic of Macedonia to promote democracy and human rights. For background on the country's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the International Religious Freedom Reports at 2009-2017.state.gov.
Part 1: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives
The top U.S. priorities include helping the government and its citizens to continue reforms needed to build and consolidate strong, stable political institutions that promote democratic values, human rights, and the rule of law. These reforms are key conditions for the country's continued progress toward integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions. The United States seeks to increase public confidence in the judiciary by supporting programs to strengthen its independence, accountability, and transparency. The United States promotes improved responsiveness of elected representatives to the needs of citizens at both the local and national level and advocates for government institutions to be more professional and free of arbitrary staff changes based on political or other affiliations. The United States promotes further implementation of the Ohrid Framework Agreement, including continued decentralization and more equitable representation of minorities in the public sector, through public diplomacy efforts and programs to build capacity of local governments.
The United States continues its focus on strengthening the ability of prosecutors and law enforcement to combat organized crime and corruption. The United States targets good governance and seeks to strengthen democratic systems, goals that complement efforts to bolster the rule of law. In addition, the United States focuses on the development of professional, objective, responsible, and economically viable media outlets, helping to promote the free exchange of ideas and information that are fundamental in a democracy. Building on the improved municipal and presidential elections of 2009, which met most international standards, to support free and fair elections in the future is a priority. The United States maintains as a key priority strengthening the capacity of civil society organizations to represent citizen interests and monitor government decisions and activities.
Part 2: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human
Rights and Democratic GovernanceU.S. programs provide technical expertise, training, and material assistance to the judiciary to promote independence, effectiveness, and transparency. A U.S. - funded program installed an automated case management system that will allow the judiciary to better monitor the performance of judges and establish time standards for case management. Additionally, the United States provides expertise and training for the implementation of a new criminal procedure code. U.S. funded training programs build the capacity of police and other law enforcement elements. The United States uses e-governance programming in its anticorruption efforts, targeting local government capacity building and the development and implementation of the government's comprehensive Anticorruption Strategy and Action Plan. U.S. programs provide technical assistance, training, and systems support to local governments on subjects including fiscal and budget management, local revenue raising, community participation and planning, and support to the association of mayors. The United States works with municipalities to establish creditworthiness and access to low interest loans for municipal development. This assistance improves the financial position of local governments, as well as transparency and accountability to citizens.
The United States seeks to improve government accountability at all levels. To enhance democratic governance, the United States works closely with the parliament and other government institutions. U.S. programs provide operational support to the parliament to introduce and improve practices such as public hearings, legislative review, and research. The United States supports programs that provide professional development and capacity building for employees of key ministries. The United States provided financial support for a conference and public debate on the electoral system and possible changes to improve accountability of elected officials to constituents. The United States is building the capacity of the country's numerous NGOs to represent citizen interests, advocate for public reform, build partnerships with public and private sectors, and promote a multiethnic society. With financial and technical assistance, the United States supports NGO advocacy and service provision activities, anticorruption initiatives, monitoring and watchdog functions, and human rights awareness activities. The United States supports reforms in the legal framework for NGOs, has introduced new operating models for NGOs to generate resources and promote philanthropy, and promotes volunteerism among citizens.
The United States supports development of a professional and independent media. While press freedom is not formally restricted, it nevertheless suffers from pressure from political and business interests, and a lack of professionalism. To address these issues, the United States provides training for journalists to sharpen their investigative reporting skills, improve their English language proficiency, and share views and experience on new and social media. In addition, a U.S. sponsored program sends journalists for a year of professional development at a U.S. university journalism program to strengthen their skills and broaden their contacts. Participants return from this program with increased motivation and skills to improve the quality of journalism in the media outlets where they are employed. The United States also worked with the largest local association of journalists so that they were better able to respond to legal and verbal attacks or pressure.