There are few ideas more powerful – more infused with universal aspiration – than democracy.
Secretary John Kerry on International Day of Democracy, September 15, 2014
These brave Ukrainians took to the streets in order to stand peacefully against tyranny and to demand democracy.
Secretary Kerry in Kyiv, March 4, 2014
Ten Ways To Combat the Worst Forms of Child Labor

No individual or organization acting alone can eliminate the worst forms of child labor, but together we can make a difference.  Individuals, governments, businesses, non-governmental organizations, and civil society groups each have a unique and vital role to play.  To reach our goal, we must focus our collective efforts on eradicating the root causes of child labor so that children can break out of the cycle of poverty.

Learn more about how we can meet this shared responsibility here.

World Day Against Child Labor

Each year since 2002, the international community has come together on June 12 to mark World Day Against Child Labor.  According to estimates of the International Labor Organization (ILO), over 215 million children worldwide are engaged in child labor.  This year, we call particular attention to the plight of those children – mostly girls – who are engaged in domestic work. 

Globally, domestic workers comprise a significant part of the modern service economy, and all indications are that the number of domestic workers is increasing steadily in both developed and developing countries.  Most domestic workers work for private households, usually without contracts or clear terms of employment.  Because most domestic work is by informal arrangement, behind closed doors, and with no contracts or clear terms of employment, these workers are often invisible.  This hidden crisis requires multiple strategies and forms of engagement. MORE


A Sustained Commitment to Human Rights

Archbishop Hazim of the Syrian Eastern Orthodox Church, now deceased, meets with Foreign Service Officer Uzra Zeya in Syria, 1998. [Photo courtesy of Uzra Zeya/ Used by Permission]

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

Roma women from the Kalaidzhi community have a chat, Bulgaria, March 23, 2013. [AP File Photo]

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

Flag in Timor-Leste, 2012 [U.S. Embassy photo/ Public Domain]

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

Dr. Tomicah Tillemann speaks with The Voice, Inc., a youth development NGO based in Papua New Guinea, November 2012. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

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

Press Statement
Patrick Ventrell
Acting Deputy Spokesperson
Office of Press Relations
Washington, DC
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

Press Statement
Patrick Ventrell
Acting Deputy Spokesperson, Office of Press Relations
Washington, DC
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.