Remarks at the Universal Rights Award Ceremony

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Embassy Yerevan
Yerevan, Armenia
June 4, 2012

Thank you very much, Ambassador, and it is such a pleasure to be here in Yerevan at the U.S. Embassy. Let me acknowledge some of the partners that the Ambassador was speaking about. Can you hear me? Okay. I want to acknowledge the governments and organizations here: the OSCE, the European Union, the British Embassy, the NGO Counterpart International, all steadfast partners in the effort to promote and protect human rights worldwide.

The men and women we honor here today have toiled and sacrificed to make human rights a reality for the people of Armenia. Their stories show us that solutions to big problems can start with the actions of one or a few people. Change begins with a group of courageous activists who fight to stop environmental degradation so Armenians can live healthier lives, begins with journalists who raise awareness about human rights violations, and a dedicated public servant who pushes the police force to reform.

The United States knows from long experience that if you want to have a stable, prosperous society, you need an accountable, effective government, you need a dynamic, free economy, and you need a civil society that supports the rights and dignity of all people. The United States believes that accountable government and leaders are one of the most important elements of successful societies.

So although we honor these men and women tonight for defending human rights, we also acknowledge them as committed to building a stronger Armenia. The United States will stand with those who defend the rights of men and women, who work toward a future where every person can live up to his or her God-given potential, and for democracy that holds such great promise for Armenia’s future. The United States and I personally believe strongly that Armenia can have a very bright future filled with opportunities for all of your people.

So let us all keep working together to forge the partnerships that carry us toward the goal of a time here in Armenia and around the world where all people are given that chance and where governments protect the rights of their people, look toward the future to determine the best path forward, create peace, prosperity, and progress for all. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

PRN: 2012/T65-06