A Sustained Commitment to Human Rights
About the Author: Uzra Zeya serves as Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.
Some 15 years ago, I had the distinct privilege of serving as the Human Rights Officer in Damascus, Syria. My responsibilities were much like those of the hundreds of colleagues who contributed to the 2012 Human Rights Reports at U.S. missions worldwide. I met with local civil society leaders and human rights defenders as well as government officials and the media in order to provide an accurate, honest picture of the human rights situation on the ground. We pride ourselves on this objective reporting, and it was a great honor to stand beside Secretary of State John Kerry as hereleased the 2012 Human… more »
International Roma Day: Remembering the Past and Fighting for the Future
About the Author: David Meyer is a Foreign Affairs Officer working on Roma issues in the Office of European Affairs in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.
The Romani people, one of the largest minority groups in Europe, have made significant contributions to European and American culture and societies. From musicians and dancers in Spain, to human rights lawyers in Budapest, to dedicated educators in Macedonia, the Roma people continue to shape Europe’s future. Yet, the Roma are one of the most marginalized groups in Europe, facing challenges to overcome systematic discrimination. On April 8, 2013, U.S. and European human rights activists and scholars came together at Harvard University for a conference entitled “Realizing Roma Rights: Addressing Violence, Discrimination, and Segregation in Europe to celebrate International Roma Day” to discuss how the Roma can reclaim their rights and harness the human potential of a diverse population of more than 10 million people.
Living in Eastern Europe in 2009, I witnessed firsthand… more »
Timor-Leste: Not Just an Ordinary New Year
About the Author: Judith Fergin serves as U.S. Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.
When the people of Timor-Leste woke up this morning, their young nation had opened a new chapter in its history. Today is the first day since 1999 that there is no UN Security Council-mandated mission on the ground.
From the passage of UNSC Resolution 384 on December 22, 1975 to 1999, Timor-Leste remained on the Council’s agenda as unfinished post-colonial business. In 1999, the Security Council supported the UN-administered popular consultation in which Timorese voted overwhelmingly for independence instead of continued incorporation in Indonesia; it then sadly directed the dispatch of peacekeepers as a result of post-referendum violence. A series of peacekeeping and special political missions ensued. In 2011, the final peacekeeping mission — the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) — and the government established a joint transition plan to… more »
Civil Society, Democracy, and America’s Commitment to Asia and the Pacific
About the Author: Tomicah Tillemann serves as the Secretary of State’s Senior Advisor for Civil Society and Emerging Democracies.
Our work to rebalance U.S. diplomacy in Asia goes beyond economic and security considerations. We are also committed to standing up for America’s values.
In mid-November, I was in the city of Hangzhou, China participating in a groundbreaking conference on the role of civil society in U.S. foreign policy. The meeting was organized by the Institute for American Studies at Zhejiang University, and it marked the first time scholars in China have ever come together to discuss why organizations outside of government are such an important feature of America’s global engagement.
Participants in the meeting included experts from Chinese universities, the Academy of Sciences, and leaders from American civil society organizations. Our Chinese colleagues arrived with a wide range of assumptions about how American civil society groups operate and the degree to which… more »
Current Situation in Belarus
Acting Deputy Spokesperson
Office of Press Relations
August 8, 2012
The United States is deeply concerned about recent events in Belarus, including the decision of the Belarusian government to expel the Swedish ambassador and force Sweden to recall its entire diplomatic staff in Minsk. These actions, like the expulsion of the U.S. ambassador to Belarus in 2008, only serve to deepen Belarus’ self-isolation.
The United States stands with Sweden and our European partners in supporting the aspirations of the people of Belarus for a modern, democratic and prosperous future. We again call on Belarus to immediately release and rehabilitate all political prisoners, and to put an end to the repression of civil society and the democratic opposition.
New Government in Timor-Leste
Acting Deputy Spokesperson, Office of Press Relations
August 8, 2012
The United States welcomes the formation of the Fifth Constitutional Government of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste under the leadership of Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao. We congratulate the people of Timor-Leste on the three sets of free, fair, and peaceful elections held this year.
As Timor-Leste commences its second decade of independence, the United States looks forward to further strengthening our close partnership with all Timorese and to working with Prime Minister Gusmao’s government as we pursue our shared goals of development and prosperity for all the people of Timor-Leste.
Travel Diary: Secretary Clinton in Kenya
More: Trip Page | Interactive Travel Map
On August 4, 2012, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled to Kenya, where she met President Kibaki, Prime Minister Odinga, Chief Justice Mutunga, and other government officials to emphasize her support for transparent, credible, nonviolent national elections in 2013. The Secretary also met with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and civil society leaders.
In remarks at a meeting with U.S. Embassy Nairobi staff and families, Secretary Clinton said, “These will be critical elections. Because of the violence in 2007, Kenya lost more than a billion dollars in investment. The GDP dropped significantly. And when government leaders ask me to help them do more to bring business and investment to this country, my quick response is then you do your part to make sure this election is free, fair, and transparent and that all Kenyans accept the results, and do your part to speak out against divisiveness, against anything that would undermine the unity of this country. Because ultimately these elections are totally within the control of the Kenyans themselves, but the United States, as your friend and your partner, want to do all we can to make sure that they are successful.”
While in Nairobi, Secretary Clinton met with President Sheikh Sharif and other signatories to the Roadmap to End the Transition and underscored U.S. support for completing the political transition in Somalia by August.
Secretary Clinton is on travel to Senegal, South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, and South Africa July 31 through August 10. You can follow her trip to Africa onwww.state.gov.
South China Sea
Acting Deputy Spokesperson
Office of Press Relations
August 3, 2012
As a Pacific nation and resident power, the United States has a national interest in the maintenance of peace and stability, respect for international law, freedom of navigation, and unimpeded lawful commerce in the South China Sea. We do not take a position on competing territorial claims over land features and have no territorial ambitions in the South China Sea; however, we believe the nations of the region should work collaboratively and diplomatically to resolve disputes without coercion, without intimidation, without threats, and without the use of force.
We are concerned by the increase in tensions in the South China Sea and are monitoring the situation closely. Recent developments include an uptick in confrontational rhetoric, disagreements over resource exploitation, coercive economic actions, and the incidents around the Scarborough Reef, including the use of barriers to deny access. In particular, China’s upgrading of the administrative level of Sansha City and establishment of a new military garrison there covering disputed areas of the South China Sea run counter to collaborative diplomatic efforts to resolve differences and risk further escalating tensions in the region. MORE.
Statement by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Algerian Elections
“I would like to congratulate the people of Algeria on this week’s elections. The Government of Algeria invited international and non-governmental organizations to send observation missions and conducted elections that provided the Algerian people with the opportunity to express their will. These elections — and the high number of women elected — are a welcome step in Algeria’s progress toward democratic reform. The United States looks forward to working together with the newly elected National Popular Assembly and to continuing to strengthen our ties with the government and the people of Algeria.”
Senegal: The Path to Promise
About the Author: Daniel W. Yohannes serves as Chief Executive Officer ofMillennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).
As Senegal today celebrates the 52nd anniversary of its independence, I just returned from the inauguration of the country’s new president, Macky Sall. Last Thursday, I was honored to receive a call from the White House asking me, on behalf of President Obama, to lead the official U.S. delegation attending his inauguration. Ambassador Johnnie Carson, the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, and General Carter Ham, Commander of U.S. Africa Command, joined me on the delegation, which was rounded out on the ground by our U.S. Ambassador to Senegal and Guinea-Bissau, Lewis Lukens.
The delegation represented agencies which carry out the three… more »