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Universal Principles of Freedom

A newly released State Department report, "Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: the U.S. Record," examines America's engagement with foreign governments and nongovernmental organizations in some ninety countries. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the report shows that freedom, democracy, and human rights are universal principles that all nations have an obligation to protect:

"The charge to the international community is clear. We are on the right side of freedom's divide, and we have an obligation to help those who were unlucky enough to have been born on the wrong side of that divide."

The U.S. will continue efforts with China and Russia to improve their human rights records. And the U.S. will continue to address human rights problems with U.S. allies such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

The State Department report cites a shift toward freedom over the past year, with elections in Afghanistan, the Palestinian territories, and Iraq, and steps toward democracy in places like Indonesia, Georgia, Ukraine and Lebanon. Secretary of State Rice says these trends invalidate the arguments of cynics that certain countries and societies are not ready for freedom:

"We know from history that while citizens' desire for individual freedoms and rights can be repressed for a time by authoritarian and/or corrupt regimes, there comes a time when all people have had enough, striking a spark of liberty, and then they rise up to take control of their own futures and their own destinies."

Ms. Rice says that their record in upholding human rights will be key to assessing U.S. relations with other countries:

"In all that lies ahead, our nation will continue to clarify for other nations the moral choice between oppression and freedom and we will make it clear that ultimately, success in our relations depends on the treatment of their own people. America's belief in human dignity and human rights will guide our policy."

The overall goal, says Secretary of State Rice, is an end to tyranny.

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.