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Why Human Rights Reports


Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, Thursday, May 24, 2012, to discuss the State Department's annual report on human rights. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

“These reports are more than a report card; they are a tool for lawmakers and scholars, for civil society leaders and activists."

In late May, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton submitted to Congress the 2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, as has every Secretary of State annually for the past four decades.

“These reports are more than a report card; they are a tool for lawmakers and scholars, for civil society leaders and activists. We also think they are a tool for government leaders,” said Secretary of State Clinton:

“It’s always been bewildering to me that so many government leaders don’t want to make the most of the human potential of their own people. And ... I do hope somewhere in the corner of my mind that maybe a leader will pick it up and say: How do we compare with others, and what can we do today, tomorrow, and next year that will maximize the potential of more of our citizens?”

“This year we have 199 reports covering every country and a number of territories,” said Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Michael Posner. “They reflect the work of literally hundreds of people [in the United States] and around the world who collect information and edit, review, and fact check to make sure that these reports are accurate and objective.”

The reports do not include an evaluation of the United States. That is because we use other mechanisms to assess our human rights record. We presented a comprehensive evaluation of our human rights commitments and obligations to the Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council, and reported on how we are addressing domestic concerns.

We file periodic reports to the Human Rights Committee, Committee against Torture, and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and post these reports on HumanRights.gov. As Secretary Clinton has said many times, “We are committed to lead by example on these issues.”

As such, we support efforts around the world “to give people a voice in their societies, a stake in their economies, and to support them as they determine for themselves the future of their own lives and the contributions they can make to the future of their countries. We think this is the way, together, we can make human rights a human reality.”

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