International Human Rights Day

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Statement by Acting Deputy Administrator John Barsa

For Immediate Release

Thursday, December 10, 2020
Office of Press Relations
press@usaid.gov

Today, we celebrate International Human Rights Day. In 1948, looking to the United States’ Bill of Rights as a model, the United Nations General Assembly established the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognizes the “inherent dignity” and “equal and inalienable rights” of mankind.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) marks the occasion by reaffirming our commitment to protecting the inalienable rights outlined by the Declaration, which include life, liberty, security of person, conscience and religious belief, freedom from torture or slavery, and others.

Promoting and protecting human rights is not only a moral imperative, but also a critical component of America’s national security, because they are essential to any nation’s self-reliance and citizen-responsive governance. Most notably, USAID has made tremendous strides towards advancing the human right of freedom of religion and belief in the past year, by supporting more than 30 public and legislative engagements related to Executive Order 13926 on advancing international religious freedom and launching our Agency Sector Council on Strategic Religious Engagement and International Religious Freedom.

USAID has obligated an average of more than $125 million annually from Fiscal Year 2017 to 2019 to address human rights concerns globally. The U.S. Government also assists tens of millions of the world’s forcibly displaced populations, who often are people deprived of multiple fundamental human rights, such as the Rohingya and Venezuelans who have fled abuses in their homelands.

On International Human Rights Day, we take a moment to express our gratitude to those who serve them on the frontlines of the battle for basic human dignity. We continue to call for greater humanitarian access and an end to violence against aid workers and those who defend human rights.

Last updated: March 31, 2021

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