Democracy, Human Rights and Governance

  • How Can We Prevent the Next Genocide?

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  • USAID brought 60 organizations together in Tunisia to form the nation’s first civil society network.

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  • USAID promotes inclusive development and the rights of vulnerable populations throughout its work.

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As the Arab Spring powerfully reminded the world in 2011, democratic governance and human rights are critical components of sustainable development and lasting peace. Countries that have ineffective government institutions, rampant corruption and weak rule of law have a 30-to-45 percent higher risk of civil war and higher risk of extreme criminal violence than other developing countries.

In fact, no poor fragile or conflict-ridden state has yet to achieve a single U.N. Millennium Development Goal.

To help change this narrative, we are integrating democracy programming throughout our core development work, focusing on strengthening and promoting human rights, accountable and transparent governance, and an independent and politically active civil society across all our work. At the same time, we remain committed to fundamental democratic empowerment activities, including supporting free and fair elections, up-to-date technology for new and traditional media, as well as the rule of law.

By helping societies protect the basic rights of citizens, we prevent conflict, spur economic growth and advance human dignity. Countries with democratic freedoms are more just, peaceful and stable-and their citizens can fulfill their potential. Through its democracy, human rights and governance programs, the United States remains committed to protecting and advancing our most cherished values.

We are focused on:

  • Supporting more legitimate, inclusive and effective governments, so that they are responsive to the needs of their people;
  • Helping countries transition to democracy and strengthen democratic institutions, capitalizing on critical moments to expand freedom and opportunity; and
  • Promoting inclusive development, so that women, minorities and vulnerable populations benefit from growth, opportunity and the expansion of rights.

To advance these goals, we launched the new Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance in 2012. Designed to become a global resource for evidence-based research, the Center will closely measure and evaluate what works best in democracy, human rights and governance and share best practices with the international development community.

As a result of this focus, we have recently:

  • Promoted government accountability and transparency by assisting more than 130 civil society organizations that engage in advocacy and watchdog functions, and supporting more than 60 civil society advocacy campaigns in nine countries.
  • Supported free and fair elections in Tunisia and Egypt.
  • Expanded political participation by training more than 9,800 domestic election observers and officials, and providing voter and civic education reaching more than 6.5 million people.
  • Enabled the first-ever meeting of Tunisian civil society leaders and legislators to work toward a new non-governmental organization law for activists. Now, USAID programs are allowing Tunisian civil society actors to share their experience with new voices in Libya working toward the same goal;
  • Provided medical treatment, psychological and social support, legal assistance and economic strengthening support to 43,000 survivors of torture and victims of gender-based violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Our efforts resulted in more 1,450 separated or abandoned children – many of whom are survivors of sexual abuse – being reunited with their families.
  • Supported a trafficking-in-persons awareness and prevention campaign across Asia through an innovative partnership with MTV Exit. This campaign has reached millions of households through social and traditional media and over 650,000 youth through concerts. Impact assessments revealed that individuals exposed to the campaign’s messaging had a substantially greater understanding of trafficking in persons than those who had not been exposed.

Related Resources

Technical Publications on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance

Last updated: April 28, 2017

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