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Supporting Human Rights And Democracy: U.S. Record

Supporting Human Rights And Democracy: The U.S. Record 2002-2003

Richard L. Armitage, Deputy Secretary of State Remarks on The Release of Department's New Annual Publication Washington, DC June 24, 2003

MR. REEKER: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome back to the State Department. Welcome to our special briefing this morning on "Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: The U.S. Record from 2002-2003." As advertised, we have the Deputy Secretary of State, Mr. Richard Armitage, to deliver some brief remarks, and then Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Lorne Craner, will have additional remarks and be able to take your questions.

So, with no further ado, I would like to turn the podium over to Deputy Secretary Armitage.

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Thank you, Phil. Good morning.

In 1948, when much of the world was still a post-war landscape of wreckage and rubble, the community of nations came together to build a new moral landscape, one based on a common standard of universal human rights. The governments of the world have reached for that standard ever since with varying degrees of success.

You might say that the U.S. Government has counted those degrees of success in inches. Every year, for the last 25 years, we have released a ten-inch-high report on human rights violations around the world. The bulk alone speaks volumes about the distance the world still needs to travel between the reality of the day and the high standard we all want to reach.

Documenting that distance is an important exercise. In some cases, scrutiny alone can motivate governments and individuals to change for the better. And while we in the United States Government believe in the power of information, we also believe in the importance of action. And so the employees of the Department of State are out in force around the world, working every day to make human rights a reality.

So I am pleased today to release for the first time a public record of those efforts. This document, "Supporting Human Rights and Democracy," looks at our work in some 92 countries with especially problematic and persistent human rights violations.

In these pages, you will find countries such as Burma and Burundi, where brutal regimes and relentless conflict have exacted a terrible daily toll of human misery. Acting alone and in concert with other governments and organizations, the United States has brought pressure to bear on both countries to release prisoners and to respect human rights, to reform the government and to reach for peace. We have worked to help create better living conditions for local populations in both places by supporting projects on everything from post-traumatic counseling to the demobilization and rehabilitation of child soldiers.

But you will also find Bahrain in these pages, a country we consider to be a key player in the war against terrorism, but one which we nevertheless hold to that same high standard. And, indeed, Bahrain has shown a commitment to improving its protection of human rights, which we have supported just as in Burundi and just as in Burma with a variety of civil society projects.

And I could go on. After all, I haven't even made it out of the Bs yet. But I think you can see the common thread that links the entities together. With friends and with foe alike, the United States is engaged in diplomacy, policy and hands-on projects to redress wrongs, but to also address the structural flaws that can lead to such violations in the first place. Indeed, freedom and human dignity are indivisible. And so it follows that many of our programs and policies are aimed at developing democratic institutions and representative governments.

But what you should really know about all of the demarches and all of the dialogues and the thousands of projects you will read about in these pages is that this is actually what we do every day; this is our daily regimen at this Department of State. It is also a representative sample of the hard work of many hands, including our partners in Congress, other agencies and organizations overseas and here at home, as well as other governments and brave individuals.

And counted among those brave individuals are our own Department of State personnel, such as the staff who stitch together the untold stories that make up this report and those cited in the closing chapter for their extraordinary dedication. I commend them for all of their work and I commend them to you as exemplars of the way in which this Department is implementing the vision of this President and the values of our American people every single day.

So, with that, I am delighted to give the helm to Assistant Secretary Craner, who is the one who orchestrated this mighty effort.

Lorne. [End]

Released on June 24, 2003

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