Ensuring that New and Fragile Democracies Deliver Tangible Improvements for Their Citizens: The United States must support democracy, human rights, and development together, as they are mutually reinforcing. We are working closely with citizens, communities, and political and civil society leaders to strengthen key institutions of democratic accountability—free and fair electoral processes, strong legislatures, civilian control of militaries, honest police forces, independent and fair judiciaries, a free and independent press, a vibrant private sector, and a robust civil society. To do so, we are harnessing our bilateral and multilateral capabilities to help nascent democracies deliver services that respond to the needs and preferences of their citizens, since democracies without development rarely survive.
Practicing Principled Engagement with Non-Democratic Regimes: Even when we are focused on interests such as counterterrorism, nonproliferation, or enhancing economic ties, we will always seek in parallel to expand individual rights and opportunities through our bilateral engagement. The United States is pursuing a dual-track approach in which we seek to improve government-to-government relations and use this dialogue to advance human rights, while engaging civil society and peaceful political opposition, and encouraging U.S. nongovernmental actors to do the same. More substantive government-to-government relations can create permissive conditions for civil society to operate and for more extensive people-to-people exchanges. But when our overtures are rebuffed, we must lead the international community in using public and private diplomacy, and drawing on incentives and disincentives, in an effort to change repressive behavior.
Recognizing the Legitimacy of All Peaceful Democratic Movements: America respects the right of all peaceful, law-abiding, and nonviolent voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. Support for democracy must not be about support for specific candidates or movements. America will welcome all legitimately elected, peaceful governments, provided they govern with respect for the rights and dignity of all their people and consistent with their international obligations. Those who seek democracy to obtain power, but are ruthless once they do, will forfeit the support of the United States. Governments must maintain power through consent, not coercion, and place legitimate political processes above party or narrow interest.
Supporting the Rights of Women and Girls: Women should have access to the same opportunities and be able to make the same choices as men. Experience shows that countries are more peaceful and prosperous when women are accorded full and equal rights and opportunity. When those rights and opportunities are denied, countries often lag behind. Furthermore, women and girls often disproportionally bear the burden of crises and conflict. Therefore the United States is working with regional and international organizations to prevent violence against women and girls, especially in conflict zones. We are supporting women’s equal access to justice and their participation in the political process. We are promoting child and maternal health. We are combating human trafficking, especially in women and girls, through domestic and international law enforcement. And we are supporting education, employment, and micro-finance to empower women globally.