Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
February 25, 2009

This is the basic text view. SWITCH NOW to the new, more interactive format.

Human progress depends on the human spirit. This inescapable truth has never been more apparent than it is today, when the challenges of a new century require us to summon the full range of human talents to move our nation and our world forward.

Guaranteeing the right of every man, woman, and child to participate fully in society and live up to his or her God-given potential is an ideal that has animated our nation since its founding. It is enshrined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and was reflected in President Obama's Inaugural Address, when he reminded us that every generation must carry forward the belief that "all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness."

Our foreign policy must also advance these timeless values, which empower people to speak, think, worship, and assemble freely, to lead their work and family lives with dignity, and to know that their dreams of a brighter future are within reach.

The promotion of human rights is an essential piece of our foreign policy. Not only will we seek to live up to our ideals on American soil, we will pursue greater respect for human rights as we engage other nations and people around the world. Some of our work will be conducted in government meetings and official dialogues, which is important to advancing this cause. But we will not rely on a single approach to overcome tyranny and subjugation that weaken the human spirit, limit human possibility, and undermine human progress.

We will make this a global effort that reaches beyond government alone. We will work together with nongovernmental organizations, businesses, religious leaders, schools and universities, and individual citizens – all of whom play a vital role in creating a world where human rights are accepted, respected, and protected.

Our commitment to human rights is driven by faith in our moral values, and also by the knowledge that we enhance our own security, prosperity, and progress when people in other lands emerge from shadows and shackles to gain the opportunities and rights we enjoy and treasure.

In that spirit, I hereby transmit the Department of State’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2008 to the United States Congress.

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State