Democracy and Human Rights

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Democracy and Human Rights

For generations, a core tenet of American foreign policy has been to support human rights and democracy abroad. As a country founded on liberal democratic ideals, the United States has long viewed the spread of democracy and protection of human rights as both consistent with our values and in our economic and security interests.

But democracies today face a number of challenges. Over the past decade, concerns of global democratic backsliding have grown as antidemocratic leaders increasingly rely on authoritarian tactics to remain in power, including by curtailing freedoms of speech and association, targeting independent journalists, and banning political rivals from running for office. Both in the United States and abroad, malicious actors have attacked the integrity of elections. Emerging technologies have also empowered oppressive regimes and accelerated the spread of hate, bigotry, and misinformation. Support for democracy has declined where corruption, violence, and persistent inequality cause fragility and prevent many from experiencing the benefits of political freedoms. And in several regions in the world, coups have occurred with alarming regularity, undoing years of democratic transition efforts and leaving people subject to military rule too often accompanied by widespread human rights violations.  

The United States has an indispensable role to play in international efforts to defend democracy and support the spread of human rights, and we must never give up on these values. Congress should continue to support the Ukrainian people in response to Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked and illegal war against Ukraine, a horrific assault on democracy and the rules-based order. We must also take additional steps to promote human rights and support, defend, and renew global democratic governance through fully funding the International Affairs budget, challenging authoritarian regimes, and restricting arms sales to human rights abusers, as well as strengthening our own democracy at home. 


of Americans believe the United States should stand up for human rights and democracy abroad.

What You Can Do

Foreign assistance programs that strengthen democratic institutions and address underlying causes of corruption, gender inequity, and instability are critically important for enhancing our security and promoting our values. You can support efforts to promote democracy and defend the rights of vulnerable populations around the world by contacting your members of Congress to urge continued assistance for the Ukrainian people in their fight for democracy and freedom, and against cuts to the International Affairs budget, which funds diplomacy and development programs. You can also encourage your elected representatives to support legislation that incorporates humanitarian considerations into U.S. foreign policy decision-making, shines the light on antidemocratic actors, and holds human rights abusers accountable. Finally, Congress should take actions to strengthen American democracy and demonstrate the vitality of our multi-racial democracy.

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