The U.S. State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices were released today. Secretary of State Clinton described the purpose of the report:
These reports are an essential tool—for activists who courageously struggle to protect rights in communities around the world; for journalists and scholars who document rights violations and who report on the work of those who champion the vulnerable; and for governments, including our own, as they work to craft strategies to encourage protection of the human rights of more individuals in more places.
The reports released today are a record of where we are. They provide a fact-base that will inform the United States’s diplomatic, economic and strategic policies toward other countries in the coming year. These reports are not intended to prescribe such policies, but they provide essential data points for everyone in the U.S. Government working on them.
Secretary Clinton also described the philosophy behind the reports:
Human rights are timeless, but our efforts to protect them must be grounded in the here-and-now. We find ourselves in a moment when an increasing number of governments are imposing new and crippling restrictions on the nongovernmental organizations working to protect rights and enhance accountability. New technologies have proven useful both to oppressors and to those who struggle to expose the failures and cowardice of those oppressors. And global challenges of our time—like food security and climate change; pandemic disease; economic crises; and violent extremism—impact the enjoyment of human rights today, and shape the global political context in which we must advance human rights over the long term.
Human rights are universal, but their experience is local. This is why we are committed to hold everyone to the same standard, including ourselves…. When we work to secure human rights, we are working to protect the experiences that make life meaningful, to preserve each person’s ability to fulfill his or her God-given potential.