March 4, 2002

As we defend our security after the tragic events of September 11, we have placed the preservation of human rights and democracy at the foundation of our efforts.  We also have recommitted ourselves to recognizing and eliminating the conditions in which terrorism is bred and where freedom lies dormant.

Our commitment to human rights is not new.  The United States took the lead in furthering the realization of universal human rights worldwide in the last half of the 20th century.  The Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices are a tangible manifestation of our deep and abiding belief in and commitment to the universality of human rights.  They also remind those of us who believe in human freedom and the rule of law of the challenges that lie before us at the beginning of this century.

The Reports are an immense project involving scores of Department offices and hundreds of staff and diplomats posted around the world.  The initial mandate, which was to report only on countries receiving U.S. foreign assistance, since has broadened to include all members of the United Nations.  It is now commonplace that all countries, having agreed to universal standards of human rights, accept international scrutiny of their accomplishments and further needs in the field.

The Reports provide, to the best of our ability, a comprehensive and accurate picture of human rights conditions throughout the world.  They offer a basis from which we can continue to further our goals of promoting the rights and dignity of all peoples and assisting in the development of free, pluralistic societies.  The international coalition against terrorism, forged in the aftermath of the sad events of last September, have given us the opportunity to expand our human rights dialog with all countries.

It is thus with great pleasure that I transmit the Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2001 to the United States Congress.

Colin L. Powell
Secretary of State