f_0019836_16905 - Human Rights Democracy and Development...

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Fall 2010 The Ambassadors REVIEW 14 Human Rights, Democracy and Development Maria Otero Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs ince taking office nearly a year ago as Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs (“G”), I have worked to support the Administration’s effort to advance democracy and development, including strengthening institutions that encourage the type of civil society necessary for human rights and democracy to flourish. As the United States looks ahead to 2011, we will continue to build on a policy that supports democratic development of civil society and integrates development into our human rights and democracy agenda. Support for Democratic Development Our support for democratic development builds on the pathways outlined by President Obama in his 2009 Cairo speech and by Secretary Clinton at the Community of Democracies (CD) meeting in Krakow this summer. In Cairo, the President emphasized that democracy cannot be imposed from outside. However, the aspirations of a people for democracy can be supported, as can the institutions necessary for a democracy to flourish. In her speech in Krakow, Secretary Clinton pointed to one of the most important ways that we will do this in the coming year—through support for civil society. As the Secretary noted, [M]ost countries do have a collection of activists, organizations, congregations, writers, and reporters that work through peaceful means to encourage governments to do better by their own people…[I]t doesn’t matter whether the[ir] goal is better laws or lower crime or cleaner air or social justice or consumer protection or entrepreneurship and innovation, societies move forward when the citizens that make up these groups are empowered to transform common interests into common actions that serve the common good. The Obama administration considers a robust civil society, including the work of nongovernmental organizations, to be essential to an accountable, democratic government and to human rights. Unfortunately, authoritarian governments sometimes try to constrain, control or curtail the rise of independent civil society. Where repressive measures are undertaken, fundamental freedoms of association, expression and peaceful assembly—and democracy itself—are threatened. Over the last six years, 50 governments have issued new restrictions against NGOs, and the list of countries where civil society faces resistance is growing. Too many govern- ments see civic activists as opponents, rather than partners. As Secretary Clinton noted in Krakow, civil society can lift and support nations as they address development challenges
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f_0019836_16905 - Human Rights Democracy and Development...

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