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In a recent speech, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton explained how human rights and democracy are integral to America's broader foreign policy. The United States' mission, she said, "is ... to work for lasting peace through a principled human rights agenda, and a practical strategy to implement it."
The first part the strategy is to hold every nation accountable to the human rights standards enshrined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But calling for accountability, said Secretary Clinton, doesn't start or stop with naming offenders. "Our goal is to encourage," she said, "even demand, that governments must also take responsibility by putting human rights into law and embedding them in government institutions; by building strong, independent courts, competent and disciplined police and law enforcement."
The second element of the human rights strategy is principled pragmatism – which is demonstrated in our approach to bilateral relationships like those with China and Russia, said Secretary Clinton. The United States seeks positive relationships with China and Russia, and that means candid discussions of divergent views. "In China," said Secretary Clinton, "we call for protection of rights of minorities in Tibet and Xinxiang; for the right to express oneself and worship freely; and for civil society and religious organizations to advocate their positions within a framework of the rule of law." With regard to Russia, the U.S. deplores the murders of journalists and activists and supports the courageous individuals who advocate at great peril for democracy. At the same time, the U.S. is engaging on issues of mutual interest with both China and Russia, including the global economy and nonproliferation.
Third, American human rights policy includes partnering with non-governmental organizations and individuals in order to bring about change from within countries. That's why the U.S. continues to openly support Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi who remains under house arrest. In China, Secretary Clinton has met with activists, including Dr. Gao Yaojie who has been harassed by authorities for speaking out about the AIDS crisis.
Finally, the U.S. seeks to widen its human rights focus to include support for consolidating gains in democratic development, economic empowerment, and women's rights where progress has been made, and continuing to work for progress in the most discouraging places.
With these 4 principles at work, the United States will help build a foundation that enables people to stand and rise above poverty, hunger, and disease and that secures their rights under a democratic form of government.