Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
The values the United States embraces – the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – are grounded in a universal truth. They are not an American inheritance, but are the birthright of every woman, man, and child.
The Country Reports on Human Rights Practices are an essential element of the U.S. effort to promote respect for human rights worldwide. They inform U.S. Government policymaking and serve as a reference for other governments, international institutions, non-governmental organizations, human rights defenders, and journalists.
The Country Reports aim to advance worldwide efforts to end abuses, to help strengthen the capacity of countries to protect the human rights of all, and to shine a spotlight on countries that fail to live up to international human rights commitments and obligations. The Country Reports assess each country’s situation independently against universal human rights precepts, during each calendar year, and each Country Report is intended to stand on its own. Countries are not compared to each other or placed in any order other than alphabetically by region.
Human Rights in the United States
America’s open, democratic system allows people here at home and around the world to comment on U.S. policies without fear. The American system of government is not infallible; it is accountable. The U.S. democratic system provides a variety of self-correcting mechanisms, such as a robust civil society, a vibrant free media, independent branches of government – including the courts – and a well established rule of law.
The focus of the Country Reports is on the human rights performance of other governments. However, the United States does examine its own human rights record against its international obligations and commitments in many other fora pursuant to our treaty obligations. For example, we file reports on our implementation of the two Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and the Convention Against Torture.
The United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process evaluates the human rights records of each of the 192 UN member states once every four years. The U.S. UPR report was submitted in 2010, following a rigorous consultation process with civil society and Native American leaders around the country. Our UPR report discusses existing laws, policies, and other measures established to ensure respect for human rights in the United States. We participate in the UPR process because we believe human rights conditions in any country are a legitimate topic of discussion and concern in the international community.
Notable trends in the 2010 Country Reports:
• Governments continued to restrict the ability of members of civil society to organize and operate.
• Governments threatened freedoms of expression and association, both online and off.
• Specific populations, including women, children, religious and ethnic minorities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons remained at particular risk of human rights abuses.