Under Secretary Paula Dobriansky on the Release of the Annual Report, "Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: The U.S. Record 2005-2006"
Good morning. President Bush in his National Security Strategy reaffirmed our conviction that promoting democracy is the most effective way of ensuring international stability, countering terrorism and extremism, and advancing peace and prosperity. Our goal is to create a world where people will not have to fear persecution for the way they worship, the words they speak or the ideas they write. Our strategy is to assist
citizens in other countries in their efforts to spread democracy and the message of basic rights for all, as embodied in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
This annual report prepared by the Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor captures our global support for these local efforts. In FY2005, the United States budgeted $1.4 billion for human rights and democracy programming. We focused our resources and diplomatic initiatives on what Secretary Rice has called transformational diplomacy, working with partners to better their own lives, build their own nations and transform their own futures.
We supported programs, for example, in Afghanistan and Iraq to empower those countries' women who have taken up posts as parliamentarians and ministers and who will be critical in shaping the futures of those nations. We funded women's literacy and education, political leadership development, communications training, voter education and capacity building for women NGOs. We helped lay the foundation for free and fair parliamentary elections in Ukraine by providing technical assistance to draft key legislation on reform, including electoral reform. We funded programs to create a national voter registry and trained election commissioners. Through grants to local NGOs and independent media, we promoted voter education and an open and informed discussion of key issues. We spent some $95 million to fund some 266 programs in about 101 countries to advance government and NGO efforts to combat trafficking in persons as well. We worked with international partners to establish the Foundation for the Future in support of civil society and the broader Middle East and North Africa and to activate the United Nations Democracy Fund.
It is essential that governments work efficiently and accountably at the local level, have a dialogue with a vibrant civil society, have strong democratic institutions that represent all citizens. NGOs are some of our most important partners in speaking out against human rights abuses and undemocratic practices, holding governments accountable for their actions and giving a voice to citizens' concerns.
Yet in the past year around the world, from Belarus to Russia to Zimbabwe, NGO workers have suffered harassment and imprisonment. Laws have been passed to limit their activities, to impede their registration and to undermine their legitimacy. We condemn these acts and we will continue to support and defend those courageous activists for democracy.
It is the obligation of every free nation to promote human rights and good governance. This is not a task for one nation or one year. It is the work of generations in which the international community must participate. We look forward to expanding our partnership with the community of democracies as we work towards our collective goals.