The United States deeply regrets the recent convictions of a number of opposition activists who participated in peaceful demonstrations on April 2. These rulings include:
The October 10 verdict of the Nasimi District Court to convict four activists- Ahad Mammadov, Ulvi Guliyev, Elnur Medzhidli, and Rufat Hajibeyli – on charges of actions disturbing public order and/or resisting police;
The October 3 ruling of the Sabail District Court to convict four activists—Arif Hajili, Tural Abbasli, Mahammad Majidli, and Fuad Gahramanli—on charges of conspiracy to violate public order for planning and organizing pro-democracy protests that took place on April 2;
We further regret decisions by the same court on August 25 to convict six other activists on similar charges.
We note that the October 11 spot report from the OSCE Office in Baku, which states that a total of 14 political activists have now been convicted as a result of the April 2 demonstration. We encourage the Office to continue its close monitoring of the court proceedings, including any related appeals.
The United States recalls the Government of Azerbaijan’s obligations under its Constitution and its OSCE commitments to respect the rule of law and the rights of all its citizens to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression. Accordingly, we call upon Azerbaijan’s judicial authorities to ensure that any appeals of these convictions are reviewed in accordance with Azerbaijan’s constitutional and international commitments, which exist to help all Azerbaijanis advance democratic culture, processes, and institutions in their country.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Secretary Clinton spoke with Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr this afternoon to convey our deep concern about the violence that occurred over the weekend. She expressed condolences for all those who were killed and injured as a result of the violence.
The Secretary conveyed U.S. support for the Egyptian Cabinet’s decision to launch a transparent and credible investigation into the violence and stressed the importance of the investigation beginning immediately and holding accountable all responsible parties with full due process of law.
Secretary Clinton reiterated the need for the Egyptian government to ensure that the fundamental rights of all Egyptians are respected, including the rights of religious freedom, peaceful assembly, and the end of military trials for civilians, and that efforts be made to address sectarian tensions.
The eighteenth session of the Human Rights Council came to an end in Geneva on September 30, 2011. This was the seventh regular session since the United States joined in September 2009. Though much work remains, in particular ending the Council’s disproportionate focus on Israel, U.S. engagement thus far has resulted in significant improvements to the Human Rights Council as a multilateral forum for promoting and protecting human rights. Accomplishments include groundbreaking resolutions on freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, preventing discrimination against women, LGBT human rights, religious tolerance, and the creation of monitoring mechanisms for Cote d’Ivoire, Libya, Iran, and Syria. Key accomplishments at this session include:
Sudan: The United States worked with the Africa Group on a consensus resolution that renews the mandate of the independent expert on the situation of human rights in the Sudan for one year, expresses international concern at the humanitarian situations in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, and calls upon all parties to immediately end violence and halt clashes. The United States underlined our core message regularly during the session: we are deeply concerned about ongoing reports of human rights violations and abuses, including unlawful killing and other violence with impunity, arbitrary arrests and detention of journalists, and restrictions on freedom of assembly. In Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, where there are credible allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity, the United States will continue to support an independent and credible investigation to hold those responsible to account.
South Sudan: The United States joined South Sudan and the Africa Group on a consensus resolution that welcomes South Sudan as a new State and member of the United Nations and also welcomes the government’s commitment to strengthen national human rights mechanisms. The resolution calls upon the government to strengthen ongoing cooperation with the UN Mission in South Sudan on human rights issues, and also invites the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to assist the new government.
Libya: The United States worked closely with Morocco, Libya, and others on a consensus resolution that recommends the UN General Assembly lift Libya’s suspension from the Human Rights Council. The resolution also welcomes the commitments made by the new Libyan government to uphold its obligations under international human rights law and to cooperate with international human rights mechanisms, including the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the international Commission of Inquiry established by the Human Rights Council at the February 2011 Special Session on Libya.
Yemen: The United States worked with delegations from Yemen and the Netherlands, as well as others on a consensus resolution that calls for a rapid political transition and transfer of power, as outlined in the plan drawn up by the Gulf Cooperation Council, and condemns ongoing violations of human rights in Yemen. The resolution notes the Yemeni government’s announcement to launch transparent and independent investigations, which will adhere to their international obligations. The resolution also calls upon the Government of Yemen and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to develop a framework for dialogue and cooperation in the field of human rights.
Syria: At an interactive dialogue on Syria, the United States welcomed the prompt formation of the Commission of Inquiry mandated at the August 2011 Special Session on Syria. The U.S. government called on the Syrian authorities to allow the Commission of Inquiry, international humanitarian agencies, and international media unrestricted access to report on the abhorrent conditions inside Syria. The United States called on the Asad regime to step aside, and to stop killing and torturing the Syrian people immediately.
Israeli/Palestinian Issues: The United States continues to believe the disproportionate focus on Israel diminishes the credibility and effectiveness of the Council. The United States continues to strongly oppose the permanent agenda item devoted to Israel-related issues, which is the only agenda item devoted to a specific country. There were no resolutions under the Israel-specific agenda item at this session.
Fighting Racism: The United States worked with Brazil to co-sponsor a consensus resolution that urged States to fight against racism and strengthen democracy. The United States is committed to working with our global partners, both bilaterally and multilaterally, in the fight against racism and racial discrimination. The United States also recognized the importance of tolerance and reconciliation, citing the powerful example of Nelson Mandela, as tools in the effort to foster more just, tolerant, and equal societies.
(As prepared for delivery at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, Session 3)
The right to peaceful assembly and association are well-established rights, essential to any genuine, functioning democratic system. But in a number of participating States, respect for these rights remains tightly and unduly restricted.
In Kazakhstan, thousands of oil workers in the western part of the country have been striking since May, demanding that independent trade unions in the region be allowed to operate without restrictions, that salaries be increased, and that there be equal treatment for foreign and domestic workers. A lawyer for the striking workers, Natalya Sokolova, was sentenced in August to six years in jail for “igniting social unrest,” just a week after being found guilty of “organizing an unsanctioned mass gathering” in front of police headquarters in Aktau. Upon his return to Kazakhstan after protesting outside the Kazakhstani Embassy in Moscow in August on behalf of the striking oil workers, opposition activist Zhanbolat Mamai was jailed for holding an unsanctioned protest—even though that protest did not take place in Kazakhstan.
Uzbekistan formally closed the Tashkent office of Human Rights Watch in June. The United States values the role played worldwide by international NGOs and regrets that Human Rights Watch will not be able to contribute to Uzbekistan’s implementation of its international and OSCE commitments to further develop civil society and transparency. On June 27—Media Workers’ Day in Uzbekistan—Saodat Omonova and Malohat Eshonqulova were detained in Tashkent and fined $1,500 for holding an unauthorized protest. They later went on hunger strike to protest government media censorship at the state television station Yoshlar (Youth), where they had worked.
In Turkmenistan and other Central Asian countries, the formation and activities of NGOs are severely restricted. Similar to laws in other Central Asian states, Turkmen law requires that all nongovernmental organizations register with the Ministry of Justice, inform the government of any foreign financial assistance, notify the government of all planned activities, and allow government officials to attend meetings and events. Groups that do try to fulfill these regulations often face administrative obstacles, particularly concerning the registration process, and only one organization has been allowed to register since 2008—the Society of Guitarists. Working without registration is a precarious option—unregistered NGO activity is punishable by fines, short-term detention, and confiscation of property.
In Russia, authorities routinely deny permission for opposition groups to rally at Triumph Square in Moscow and Gostiny Dvor and Palace Square in St. Petersburg, and then break up unauthorized peaceful gatherings at these locations. Russian democratic activists continue to be prosecuted for attempting to exercise their right to freedom of assembly. While Russian law allows one-man pickets without permits, authorities are quick to arrest these protestors as soon as they are joined by a second individual – often uninvited and reportedly from Kremlin-supported youth groups. Authorities continue to deny LGBT groups the right of free assembly through continued bans on pride demonstrations and parades.
In Ukraine, police interference with public protests and rallies has increased, most notably during peaceful protests last November over the government’s proposed changes to the tax code, and during an opposition march in Kyiv in August on the country’s Independence Day. In some cases, police arrested and detained protestors and called others in for questioning. According to the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, there were more violations of freedom assembly in 2010 than during the previous two years.
The United States welcomes the Armenian Government’s decision this spring to allow demonstrations again in Yerevan’s Liberty Square, and its commitment to investigate fully the circumstances surrounding the violence following the last presidential election. We hope this investigation will result in meaningful accountability, and that the government will work toward the elimination of all constraints on freedom of assembly in Armenia.
Azerbaijani authorities routinely deny requests to organize rallies and have refused since the end of 2005 to make available Azadliq Square in central Baku for pro-democracy demonstrations. Those who attempt to hold such demonstrations risk arrest, fines, imprisonment and beatings, as was illustrated again in March and April of this year both before and during thwarted demonstrations in Baku. According to credible reports, some were beaten or otherwise abused in detention.
In Georgia, the violent use of excessive force by law enforcement officials and reports of abuse of detainees following the May 25-26 also remain of concern and undermine Georgia’s democratization efforts. It is important that transparent investigations into such actions produce tangible results with appropriate accountability.
Finally, Mr./Madam Moderator, since last year’s HDIM, violations of freedom of assembly have reached egregious—proportions.
Since we last met, especially after the December 19 elections, Belarus has escalated the systematic repression of the freedom of assembly and association. Election night was marred by a violent campaign of repression against tens of thousands who came out to peacefully protest falsified election results. By the time the night was over, nearly 700 protestors were in detention. This number included most opposition presidential candidates, a number of whom were subjected to harsh physical treatment. More than 40 were convicted and many remain in prison, with sentences of up to six years. The recent pardons and dropping of charges are utterly insufficient. The United States again calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all incarcerated political prisoners. The crackdown included the intensification of pressure on NGOs and civil society, including the August 4 arrest of Ales Bialiatski, president of Viasna, one of two human rights groups in Belarus. Ales had often been present at this annual meeting to engage on the very same human rights concerns in Belarus that we are now discussing. No human rights organization, including Viasna, has been permitted to register in Belarus since 2003 and no independent trade union since 1999. There has also been an increase in harassment and searches of NGO premises and equipment seizures as part of the crackdown.
More recently, since June, thousands of Belarusians in more than 40 cities across the country have been engaging in peaceful protests against government policies—mainly economic policies. Plainclothes police officers, often without identification, have arrested more than 2,000 people for simply being present or clapping in support. There were no slogans, no signs, no party identification—and all the protests took place within areas freely accessible to the public. According to local human rights groups, approximately 1,500 people received sentences of between 5 and 15 days. The Belarusian authorities’ intolerance for any form of protest was underscored by recent proposed amendments to require official authorization of any planned mass presence of citizens in a public place organized for the purpose of “action or lack of action” to publicly air social or political views or protests. Under this draconian regime, one can be arrested simply for being at the wrong place at the wrong time, even if one is not doing anything.
On September 22nd, on the margins of the 66th United Nations General Assembly in New York, the U.S. and Tunisian governments signed the Joint Political and Economic Partnership (JPEP). As I reflect on the remarkable events that led to the Tunisian revolution, it is clear that the voices of workers and youth everywhere must continue to be heard. Secretary Clinton’s signing of this strategic partnership symbolizes the solidarity that the American people feel with Tunisians as well as with people struggling for democracy in the region and beyond.
It has been less than a year since the self-immolation of a Tunisian street vendor, who felt powerless to feed his family, started in motion the dramatic events of the “Arab Spring.” While the causes of the revolutions are numerous – rising food prices, youth unemployment, political oppression, and the struggle to provide basic necessities for loved ones – the people’s call for basic dignity could no longer be repressed.
During the Tunisian revolution, the voice of workers, demonstrating on the streets, helped force out the old regime and usher in a new transitional government. The people, exercising their newly found right to freedom of assembly, have demanded that the transitional government be accountable to the Tunisian people. The right to associate – a basic human right – is at the core of any democracy. On October 23rd, Tunisians will exercise another fundamental right – the right to vote in democratic elections, in this case for Constituent Assembly.
It is clear that respect for human rights and sustainable democracies are most effectively built on a strong foundation of social and economic inclusion. As Secretary Clinton has said:
“We cannot build a stable, global economy when hundreds of millions of workers and families find themselves on the wrong side of globalization, cut off from markets and out of reach of modern technologies…And we cannot advance democracy and human rights when hunger and poverty threaten to undermine the good governance and rule of law needed to make those rights real.”
Tunisians understand this as they endeavor to build an inclusive democracy and claim the right of all Tunisians to have a voice in how they are governed and in how they live their lives. The people of the United States stand with Tunisians as they take this important step to strengthen their democracy.
Remarks delivered during a panel discussion on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests
Thank you, Madame President.
The United States is deeply concerned about violent repression of peaceful protests in a number of countries around the world. The fundamental freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, and association are enshrined in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. The violent repression of peaceful protests is a clear violation of those human rights, and those responsible for such violations must be held accountable.
Over the past several months, as we have seen hundreds of thousands of people protest peacefully in various countries – particularly across the Middle East and North Africa – the United States has consistently opposed the use of violence against peaceful protesters and supported the fundamental freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, and association, and the right to participate in the affairs of the state. We have strongly condemned the killing, torture, arbitrary detention, and abuse of peaceful protestors. And we have made clear our view that people’s legitimate demands and aspirations must be met by positive engagement from governments in the form of meaningful political and economic reforms.
In Syria, we are witnessing a brutal and sustained onslaught against the Syrian people, who have bravely demanded reforms by protesting peacefully in the face of tanks and gunfire. Their courageous exercise of their universal rights has exposed the Asad regime’s flagrant violations of human rights and disregard for the dignity of Syrians. Though this Council has mandated a fact finding mission and an independent commission of inquiry, the Asad regime continues to grossly violate the universal rights of its citizens. We must ensure that this Council’s mandates are fully implemented and supported, and that all means of leverage are applied to help ensure that governments like the Asad regime cease their acts of repression and are held to account for their human rights violations.
In addition to Syria, a number of other states, including Iran, Belarus, China, and Burma, regularly repress peaceful protests. Such cases of systematic repression of peaceful protests must also be addressed.
We encourage the Special Rapporteurs to focus on urgent situations, like Syria, as well as persistent violators of the rights of peaceful protesters. We urge this Council to take decisive and principled action to promote and protect the rights of peaceful protesters and call on all countries to respect the human rights of their citizens.
Thank you, Madame President.
The United States joins the EU in expressing its objection to the August 11 demolition of the offices of the Institute for Peace and Democracy (IPD) in Baku. Of particular concern, the demolition took place despite a May 24, 2011 injunction by a district administrative court forbidding the expropriation or destruction of the property in question. Moreover, the owner of the building was out of the country. Staff present in the office were denied permission to recover private and professional property and records before the demolition of this property, which also contained the owner’s residence.
We urge the authorities in Azerbaijan to investigate this case thoroughly and to open a dialogue with citizens affected by this and other recent demolitions to ensure that property rights are respected. We underscore that full respect for the rule of law–including due process–is a core OSCE commitment and one of the foundations of a free and prosperous society.
Recalling the statements we made following the peaceful demonstrations of April 2, 2011, in which we expressed concern about continuing restrictions on the right of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression in Azerbaijan, we note with concern the August 25 conviction of six activists for their role in the April 2 demonstrations. We join the EU in calling on the Azerbaijani authorities to ensure a fair, transparent, and evidence-based appeal process, and to respect the right of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression for all its citizens, as enshrined in the Azerbaijani Constitution and in Azerbaijan’s OSCE commitments.
The United States will continue to follow developments concerning respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms closely. We reiterate our dedication to assisting Azerbaijan in fulfilling its OSCE commitments.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Chabot, Ranking Member Ackerman, Distinguished Members of the Committee: thank you for inviting us to appear before you today to discuss the Iranian and Syrian governments’ continuing and worsening abuses against their own people.
As people across the region are taking stock of their governments, we see in the Syrian and Iranian regimes a parallel failure to respond to or respect the will of their citizens. Our concerns about these countries’ horrendous human rights abuses are longstanding, but never has their repression been more flagrantly at odds with the realities of the region – the irrepressible demands for democracy and fundamental human rights that have already swept two leaders from power. The United States has played an essential leading role in demanding an end to this repression, enlisting the international community’s support for fundamental human rights in the region, and leveraging our resources to support the peoples’ demands for justice, freedom and dignity. We have used new authorities to single out and sanction those most responsible for these abuses and have encouraged other countries to do join us in this effort. Going forward, the United States will expand our efforts to answer the call of Syrian and Iranian citizens that their governments be held accountable for their actions.
As a prime example of its contempt for dissent, the Iranian regime has held the de facto leaders of the Green Movement, former presidential candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, under house arrest without charges since February. Many from the second-tier leadership of the Green Movement-affiliated entities remain imprisoned or have fled Iran, and their family members have been intimidated, attacked, and detained. This has left the Green Movement beleaguered and scattered. Although demonstrations are rarer, government intimidation didn’t stop the Green Movement last February from demonstrating in solidarity of their kindred spirits protesting government oppression across the Arab world.
In Syria, a committed, peaceful grassroots opposition movement has rapidly emerged in response to the Asad regime’s brutality. Last March, security forces fired upon demonstrators calling for the release of children held for weeks for simply writing political graffiti. That brutal act sparked the collective outrage of the long-oppressed Syrian people. The growing momentum for change, which has drawn people from across Syria to participate in peaceful demonstrations, is now well into its fourth month.
President Asad and his regime have responded with gunfire, mass arrests, torture and abuse. Human rights organizations report that more than 1,800 Syrians have been killed and over ten thousand jailed, while security forces hold the Syrian people hostage to a widening crackdown. Through high-level intervention, Ambassador Ford and Embassy Damascus have secured the release of ten Americans who had been detained on security grounds since January.
Amnesty International has reported killings and torture by security forces in the town of Tell Kalakh near the Lebanese border in May. Residents reported seeing scores of males including some elderly and under18 being rounded up. Detainees described brutal torture, including beatings, prolonged use of stress positions and the use of electric shock to the genitals. Human Rights Watch interviewed 50 witnesses to the weeks of violence in Daraa, and reported that member of various branches of the mukhabarat security forces and snipers on rooftops deliberately targeted protestors and that victims had lethal head, neck and chest wounds.
But in spite of this intense repression, the Syrian people have lost their fear. They have not backed down. They are continuing to take to the streets to demand freedom, respect for their basic rights, and a transition to democracy. Beyond demonstrations, we have also seen the opposition organize itself and begin to articulate an agenda for Syria’s future, recognizing that the strongest Syria is one in which all citizens, regardless of faith or ethnicity, are equal participants. And for our part, the Obama Administration has articulated clearly that the United States has absolutely nothing invested in the Bashar al-Asad regime, which has clearly lost legitimacy, most importantly in the eyes of the hundreds of thousands of Syrians who have taken to the streets. A peaceful and democratic transition would be a positive step for Syria, the region, and the world.
It is up to the Syrian people to determine what the next chapter holds for Syria, as the pages turn toward a new future for this country. President Asad can delay or obstruct it but he cannot, however, stop it. As Syrians chart their own future, we hope to see the participation of and respect for all of Syria’s ethnic and religious groups. The United States, and the international community, want to see a Syria that is unified, where tolerance, respect for human rights, and equality are the norm. This is the message that Ambassador Ford is delivering to the Syrian leadership and the Syrian people.
Even as the Syrian military and security forces have besieged communities, conducted mass arrests, targeted emergency medical responders, tortured children, shot peaceful protestors with impunity, cut off water, internet and telephone services, and barred an independent media, people have found ways to get their word out, through reports, images and videos taken by brave demonstrators and smuggled out.
In bearing witness to these terrible abuses, the United States has and will continue to play a crucial role. Demonstrators have peacefully protested for over a month in Hama, where over 10,000 Syrians were killed in 1982 by President Asad’s father Hafez Asad. The people of Hama kept their peace despite their tragic history and the provocation of the government forces besieging the city. We know this precisely because our representative to the Syrian people, Ambassador Ford, toured Hama and reported seeing no protestors carrying weapons, nor damage to government buildings. We also know through Ambassador Ford’s reports that, contrary to the promises from President Asad to end the emergency law and follow proper judicial procedures, the government has carried out sweeps and arrested dozens of peaceful demonstrators in Hama, and reports of torture in custody are well documented. Our diplomatic presence and watchfulness is an important way for us to gain independent knowledge of the facts, to show support for Syrians’ rights, and to speak directly and plainly to the Syrian government about the need to change course.
Returning to Iran, more than two years since that country’s disputed presidential election, Iranian authorities persist in harassment, arbitrary detention, torture, and imprisonment of their citizens, as well as some of ours. Targets include those who demand accountability from their government and who stand up for the rights of their fellow citizens; ethnic and religious minorities; journalists, women’s rights activists, bloggers and students.
Unfortunately, the situation has only further deteriorated in 2011. Protestors were killed in Tehran in February and in ethnically-Arab areas in April; political prisoners are held in deplorable conditions with convicted murderers in former stockyards; those released from prison are forced to pay exorbitant bail sums or often released with conditions such as long bans on travel or work in their field; additional sentences were levied on those already in prison merely for sending letters to family members; mass executions of mainly ethnic minority prisoners have been carried out without their families’ knowledge; at least 190 people have been executed this year, more than in any other country in the world except China; restrictions on speech have intensified; journalists and bloggers continue to be targeted by the regime for daring to write the truth; teachers and other workers are harassed and incarcerated when they seek freedom of association and payment of wages owed; trade union leaders remain imprisoned on questionable charges; politically-active students have been banned from universities; entire university faculties deemed un-Islamic face threat of closure; and, recently, female journalists and artists have been arrested for merely practicing their profession.
Particularly troubling is the deepening persecution of religious minorities. On May 1, the Revolutionary Court in the northern city of Bandar Anzali tried 11 members of the Church of Iran, including Pastor Abdolreza Ali-Haghnejad and Zainab Bahremend, the 62-year-old grandmother of two other defendants, on charges of “acting against national security.” This month, Iranian courts ruled that Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani must recant his Christian faith or face the death penalty for apostasy. In March, over 200 Gonabadi Sufis were summoned to courts around the country to answer allegations that they were insulting Iranian authorities. In April, eight other Sufis were re-arrested on charges of disrupting public order – charges for which they had been punished with flogging and imprisonment. The Iranian government also continues to arrest and harass members of the Baha’i faith.
As the Iranian and Syrian regimes have expanded their repressive tactics, we have expanded the scope of our efforts to challenge these governments’ deplorable human rights violations. We have designated 11 Iranian officials and three government entities for serious human rights abuses in accordance with the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions Accountability and Divestment Act and, as the act requires, we are actively seeking more information on possible targets. Separately, on July 8, the United States and the United Kingdom imposed visa restrictions on officials of the Government of Iran and other individuals who have participated in human rights abuses in Iran. Iranian officials subject to this visa ban include government ministers, military and law enforcement officers, and judiciary and prison officials.
Responding to the atrocities in Syria, President Obama signed two executive orders. The first, E.O. 13572, signed on April 29, targets those responsible for human rights abuses and the repression of the Syrian people. The second, E.O. 13573, signed on May 18, targets senior officials of the Syrian government because of the ongoing crackdown and refusal to implement political reform. These two authorities were used to impose sanctions against President Asad and senior Syrian officials responsible for human rights abuses. In addition to President Asad, the sanctions so far have designated the Vice President, Prime Minister, ministers of interior and defense, the head of Syrian military intelligence, and director of the political security directorate. Other U.S. sanctions target President Asad’s brother and two cousins, the Syrian military and civilian intelligence services, its national security bureau and the air force intelligence, as well as Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Qods Force and senior Qods force officers that have assisted the Asad regime in suppressing Syrian civilians.
It is no coincidence both Iran and Syria have responded to their citizens with similar contempt and brutal tactics. As the latter designation shows, we know that the Syrians have employed Iranian help in curbing dissent. This has exposed a strident hypocrisy on the part of the Iranian regime, which has tried unsuccessfully to take credit for democratic movements in Egypt and elsewhere and laud protesters when it suited its strategic interests, but has materially helped the Syrian government crush its own protestors in order to preserve their ally. The Iranian regime’s false narrative is further exposed even as the regime continues to smother its own domestic opposition.. Nevertheless, hundreds of brave Iranian citizens continue to engage in the most basic but critical of human rights work, documenting and reporting on abuses, with the hope that one day Iranian government officials will be held accountable for crimes they have committed against their fellow citizens.
In the case of Syria, we have seen the regime play a cruel double game designed to divert attention away from people’s demands and justify the regime’s monopoly on power. Asad is exploiting fears of sectarianism and factionalism by surreptitiously fomenting violence of an intentionally sectarian nature, while at the same time cautioning Syrians not to rock his carefully guided boat. As a consequence, deadly violence has at times taken a purportedly sectarian shade. This has only left more blood on Asad’s hands.
We view these incidents as further evidence that President Assad’s government continues to be the real source of instability within Syria. He has promised reforms but delivered no meaningful changes. He talks about dialogue, but continues to engage in violence that proves his rhetoric hollow. Assad has made clear that he is determined to maintain power regardless of the cost. And the human toll is mounting.
Nevertheless, the Syrian people will not be distracted – they have shown they will not cease their demands for dignity and a future free from intimidation and fear, and they are countering the regime’s propaganda falsely accusing them of seeking that division and ethnic strife. Asad has made occasional conciliatory gestures, but to date these starts have not been credible, sustained, or made in good faith. The regime’s promises of reform have been shown to be false by the continued arrests and shootings of peaceful demonstrators.
The European Union and other nations have joined the United States in enacting sanctions on key regime figures in Iran and Syria to hold their leaders accountable for the violence. We continue to urge more nations to join our call, in bilateral and multilateral settings, to shine a spotlight on these countries’ gross violations of human rights. We also urge other countries to press Iran on its abuses in their bilateral diplomacy. An international consensus is forming to mobilize greater diplomatic pressure on these regimes. We successfully prevented both governments from joining the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) after they had announced their candidacies and have appropriately used this forum to draw the world’s attention to their offenses. And in the U.N. General Assembly last year, we helped win passage of a Canadian-led resolution condemning Iran’s human rights abuses by the largest margin in eight years. At the March session of the HRC, we led a successful effort to establish a Special Rapporteur on Iran, the first country-specific human rights rapporteur created since the Council came into being, and last month, the Council confirmed former Foreign Minister for the Maldives Ahmed Shaheed at that position. This historic action sent an unmistakable signal to Iran’s leaders that the world will not stand passive in front of their systematic abuse of their own citizens’ human rights. More importantly, the Special Rapporteur serves as a critical voice for those Iranians whose own voice is repressed because of their political, religious, and ethnic affiliations.
In a Special Session in April, the HRC also condemned the ongoing violations by the Syrian authorities. The Council called on Syrian authorities to release prisoners of conscience and those arbitrarily detained, and to end restrictions on Internet access and journalists. It also established an international investigation led by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, though President Asad refuses to allow the monitors mandated by the Council to enter Syria. In the June HRC session, the United States joined Canada and more than 50 other countries in a forceful joint statement that again condemned violations committed by the Syrian authorities and called for credible, independent, and transparent investigations into these abuses, accountability for those who perpetrated such abuses, and unfettered access to the UN High Commissioner’s mission to investigate the many allegations of human rights abuses. The High Commissioner will present a report on the human rights situation in Syria in the September session.
We have been working assiduously with other members on the UN Security Council to obtain a resolution condemning the ongoing atrocities being committed by the Asad regime. We are aware that some key Council members oppose such a resolution, but we are moving to forge consensus and will press for a vote.
Our efforts to support the Iranian and Syrian people as they seek to exercise their rights have been consistent and sustained. Just as we do throughout the region, we work with civil society organizations to support their efforts to defend human rights and to advocate for change. We help them expand political space and hold their government accountable. We provide training and tools to civil society activists in Iran and Syria, and throughout the world, to enable citizens to freely and safely exercise their freedoms of expression, association, and assembly on the Internet and via other communication technologies. In cases like Iran and Syria, where governments have good reason to fear the spotlight on their activities, access to technological tools allows the people to tell their story to the world. Despite both government’s ramped up activities to try to suppress information flows, the days are gone when governments could brutalize their people without the world knowing.
As Secretary Clinton has said, “we stand for a single internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas. …This challenge may be new, but our responsibility to help ensure the free exchange of ideas goes back to the birth of our republic.” Our Internet freedom programming is aimed at making sure that voices for peaceful democratic reform across the region can be heard. Countering such regimes’ increasingly active Internet surveillance and censorship efforts requires a diverse portfolio of tools and training. State Department grants will support more advanced counter-censorship technologies, including circumvention tools in Farsi and Arabic, secure mobile communications, and technologies to enable activists to post their own content online and protect against cyber attacks. We also have trained 5,000 activists worldwide, including many from the Middle East, in cyber-self defense. And we plan to expand these efforts to teach democratic activists, journalists, bloggers, human rights defenders and others how to protect their online privacy and their data – so that they in turn can train others. Given the evolving state of technology, no single tool will overcome the efforts of Internet-repressive regimes, and that is why we have invested in incubating a diverse portfolio of technologies and digital safety training. This way, even if one particular tool is blocked, other tools will still be available. Likewise, we work to prevent all repressive governments from acquiring sensitive technology to repress its citizens.
A strong, representative government can be responsive to popular demands; an autocratic one is threatened by empowered publics. But these crackdowns also indicate a basic lack of understanding that free speech – whether it’s supportive speech or subversive speech – is harder than ever to suppress in the Digital Age. The young people who have taken to the streets across the Arab world this year understand what their governments are suppressing. It’s not just the Internet, it is people – it’s their demands for dignity and a say in the political and economic future of their countries.
The United States will continue to stand with those who struggle to assert their fundamental humanity. It is essential that these brave people know that the international community supports them, just as it is essential that human rights abusers in Damascus and Tehran know that we are watching them. Until such time as they are held accountable by domestic authorities, it is our responsibility to hold them accountable at the international level.
Similarly, we hope that today’s hearing will serve as further evidence that the American people and our government in Washington stand united in our admiration and support for those across the region who have boldly assumed the duty and made the sacrifices to advance their rights. For this opportunity, we wish to thank the Committee again, and welcome your questions.
CAPTIVE NATIONS WEEK, 2011
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
There are times in the course of history when the actions of ordinary people yearning for freedom ignite the desires of people everywhere. Such brave actions led to the birth of our Nation, the fall of the Soviet Union, and countless other achievements that have shaped our world. During Captive Nations Week, we remember the men and women throughout the world still suffering under oppressive regimes, and we underscore our commitment to advancing freedom’s cause.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first Captive Nations Week Proclamation in 1959 amidst an escalating Cold War, affirming America’s support for the individual liberties of those living under Communist oppression. Our world has transformed dramatically since President Eisenhower first proclaimed Captive Nations Week. The burst of freedom following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union led to the emergence of new democracies that are now steadfast allies of the United States and key contributors to the expansion of human rights worldwide.
With each generation, people have breathed new life into democratic ideals, striving for personal freedom, political and economic reform, and justice. The United States stands firmly behind all those who seek to exercise their basic human rights. We will continue to oppose the use of violence and repression and support the universal rights of freedom of religion, expression, and peaceful assembly; equality for men and women under the rule of law; and the right of people to choose their leaders.
This week, we rededicate ourselves to promoting democratic values, economic development, and respect for human dignity, and we express our solidarity with freedom seeking people everywhere whose future reflects our greatest hope for peace.
The Congress, by joint resolution approved July 17, 1959 (73 Stat. 212), has authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation designating the third week of July of each year as “Captive Nations Week.”
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim July 17 through July 23, 2011, as Captive Nations Week. I call upon the people of the United States to reaffirm our deep commitment to all those working for human rights and dignity around the world.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifteenth day of July, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Request for Proposals: Justice and Dignity Initiative
PLEASE NOTE: DRL strongly urges applicants to access immediately www.grants.gov in order to obtain a username and password. It may take up to a week to register with www.grants.gov. Please see the section titled “DEADLINE AND SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS” below for specific instructions.
Background and Introduction:
As Secretary Clinton said at the Forum for the Future in Doha in January 2011, “While some countries have made great strides in governance, in many others people have grown tired of corrupt institutions and a stagnant political order. They are demanding reform to make their governments more effective, more responsive, and more open.” Yet despite demands from their people, many governments around the world are unwilling to make the changes their citizens deserve – changes that include the establishment of transparent, accountable institutions; a commitment to and implementation of basic human rights protections; the ability for citizens to freely choose their government and then hold government officials accountable; and an open space in which media and civil society organizations can operate without fear of harassment, physical threat or harm, detention, or imprisonment.
To address this growing trend, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) announces a Request for Proposals (RFP) for organizations interested in implementing large, country-specific projects—in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region only—that will address new challenges as they unfold on the ground in countries that routinely and systematically infringe on the fundamental freedoms of association, assembly, expression, and religion, or that will leverage new opportunities as they arise.
Activities of the Justice and Dignity Initiative:
The activities to be administered under the Justice and Dignity Initiative must promote the fundamental freedoms of association, assembly, expression, and religion in countries that routinely and systematically infringe on those freedoms. The grantee will be expected to efficiently and effectively implement, at times within a matter of weeks, a wide range of program activities, including, but not limited to, providing technical assistance to and building the capacity of civil society activists/organizations, media actors, and new and opposition political parties; developing public advocacy and civic education campaigns; documenting human rights abuses; and improving access to justice and legal aid. More specifically, these activities could include, but are not limited to, training and mentoring local and citizen journalists; increasing public awareness and understanding of religious freedom and tolerance; engaging women in political party activities; building coalitions among youth groups; bolstering the capacity of independent worker organizations; or expanding access for at-risk populations, including women and disabled and indigenous people, to justice or civic participation.
The scope of activities that are eligible to be undertaken in this cooperative agreement is broad and meant to cover the complete spectrum of assistance activities that will promote fundamental freedoms. The individual programs of the initiative will be larger in scope and can be administered over multiple years.
Cooperative Agreement for NGO Consortium:
DRL will award a cooperative agreement to a consortium of at least four NGOs with global reach (“Consortium”), with one lead organization serving as the primary recipient/applicant (“Primary Applicant” or “Lead Organization”). One member of the Consortium may implement one program, two or more may work on similar activities separately, or two or more may work jointly. DRL employs this cooperative agreement mechanism in order to provide the Consortium with a pre-approved grant vehicle that allows for rapid response/disbursement of resources when the situation on the ground requires it.
The Consortium will work closely with DRL to design in a timely fashion targeted programs that address a myriad of issues in various ways. DRL may approach the Consortium with an idea for a program or the Consortium may propose a program idea to DRL, but the two will work together to design the program that one or more members of the Consortium will implement. Regardless of which party proposes the idea, the Consortium will prepare proposals for each program idea pursuant to the guidelines outlined in the “Technical Requirements for Proposals for Activities Administered under the Justice and Dignity Initiative” section below, which DRL will review.
The Primary Applicant need not be based in the U.S. but must be a non-profit organization registered in the U.S., meet the provisions described in Internal Revenue Code section 26 USC 501(c)(3), and have demonstrated experience administering successful projects in various countries. (See “Primary Applicant/Organization Criteria” section below for more information.)
Consortium members must demonstrate a region-wide reach, the capacity to implement in a time-sensitive manner large program activities that could be multi-year in nature, and the technical expertise for the broad scope of activities to be undertaken in this cooperative agreement.
The Primary Applicant will be required to develop a detailed program plan outlining the role and responsibilities of the other NGO partners in the Consortium and how the Consortium will work and consult with DRL. The Primary Applicant should submit a letter of commitment from each NGO partner in the Consortium.
Proposals should allocate requested funding to provide as much direct assistance to the program’s activities as possible and keep overhead costs to a minimum. The Lead Organization shall obtain receipts and/or reimbursement documentation for all expenditures over $10,000 and for those under $10,000 to the extent possible.
The Consortium should ensure that it has a solid reach across the MENA region, and can maintain, through a demonstrated track record, strong relationships with experienced, reliable, local partner NGOs across the region. Strategies to develop stronger contacts to improve the administration of the program can be included, but associated costs must be reasonable and kept to a minimum.
Vetting will be required in accordance with the Department’s standard vetting procedures.
TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS FOR PROPOSALS FOR THE JUSTICE AND DIGNITY INITIATIVE
Proposals should conform to DRL’s posted Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI), available at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/p/c12302.htm. (For this solicitation, applicants must use the Revised PSI dated October 2010.)
Proposals that do not meet the requirements of the announcement and PSI may not be considered. Proposals that request less than the award floor or more than the award ceiling will be deemed technically ineligible.
For all application documents, please ensure that:
1) All pages are numbered, including budgets and attachments;
2) All documents are formatted to 8 ½ x 11 paper; and
3) All Microsoft Word documents are single-spaced, 12 point Times New Roman font, with a minimum of 1-inch margins.
Complete applications should include the following for proposal submission:
1) Completed and signed SF-424, SF-424a (Budget Summary) and SF424b (Assurances), most recent A-133 Audit, and Certifications Regarding Lobbying forms as directed on www.grants.gov. Please refer to the PSI for directions on how to complete the forms.
2) Table of Contents (not to exceed one  page in Microsoft Word) that includes a page-numbered contents page, including any attachments.
3) Executive Summary (not to exceed one  page in Microsoft Word) that includes:
a) Name and contact information for the project’s main point of contact and
b) A brief statement on the unique capacity of the Primary Applicant and the members of the proposed Consortium to implement quickly programs that address a broad range of human rights, democracy, and rule of law issues.
4) Proposal Narrative (not to exceed twenty-five  pages in Microsoft Word). Please note the 25-page limit does not include the Table of Contents, Executive Summary, Attachments, Detailed Budget, Budget Narrative, or NICRA. Applicants may submit multiple documents in one Microsoft Word file, i.e., Table of Contents, Executive Summary, Proposal Narrative, and Budget Narrative in one file or as separate, individually submitted files. Submissions should address three specific criteria (Institution’s Record and Capacity, Technical Understanding, and Past Performance). With regard to the “Past Performance” criteria, the Lead Organization and each member of the Consortium are required to submit one-paragraph summaries of three (3) past or current programs, which should include the start and end dates of the program, goals, objectives, activities, and outcomes/outputs of the program, as well as the projected budget and the actual final budget, if the grant has been completed, which should be submitted as attachments (see below under 7) Attachments). Further details about these criteria are described in the Review Process section below.
5) Budget Narrative (preferably in Microsoft Word) that includes an explanation/justification for each line item in the detailed budget spreadsheet, as well as the source and description of all cost-share offered. For ease of review, it is recommended that applicants order the budget narrative as presented in the detailed budget. Primarily Headquarters- and Field-based personnel costs should include a clarification on the roles and responsibilities of key staff and percentage of time devoted to the project. In addition, cost-effectiveness is one of the key criteria for rating the competitiveness of a program proposal. Applicants that include cost share in their budget should note that cost share is considered a commitment and that the grantee will be held responsible for meeting the amount of cost share included. It is recommended that budget narratives address the overall cost-effectiveness of the proposal, including any cost share offered (see the PSI for more information on cost-sharing and cost-effectiveness).
6) Detailed Line-Item Budget (in Microsoft Excel or similar spreadsheet format) that breaks down the administrative costs of overseeing the Justice and Dignity Fund and overseeing program activities. The budget should contain three  columns including DRL request, any cost-sharing contribution, and total budget. A summary budget should also be included using the OMB-approved budget categories (see SF-424 as a sample). See the PSI for more information on budget format. Costs must be in U.S. Dollars. Please note that a budget outlining the costs for administering and overseeing the fund should be submitted. DRL does not expect budgets for individual projects that will be administered under the Fund as budgets for these individual projects will be negotiated when the need for those projects arise.
7) Attachments (Attachments A through C not to exceed six  pages total, preferably in Microsoft Word) that include the following in order:
a) Pages 1-2: Administration and Oversight Plan. Please explain how the Primary Organization will administer the Fund and oversee the NGO Consortium.
b) Page 3: Roles and responsibilities of key program personnel with short bios that highlight relevant professional experience. CVs are not recommended for submission.
c) Pages 4-6: Additional optional attachments. Attachments may include letters of support, Memoranda of Understanding/agreements, etc. For applicants with a large number of letters/MOUs, it may be useful to provide a list of the organizations/government agencies that support the program rather than the actual documentation.
d) Pages 7-XYZ: Budgets. Submit the projected budget and the actual final budget, if the grant has been completed, of the three (3) past or current programs being used as examples under the “Past Performance” criterion. The projected budget and actual final budget should be no longer than 2 pages each per program example.
8 ) If your organization has a negotiated indirect cost rate agreement (NICRA) and includes NICRA charges in the budget, your latest approved/valid NICRA agreement should be sent as a .pdf file. This document will not be reviewed by the panelists, but rather used by program and grant staff if the submission is recommended for funding. Hence, this document does not count against the submission page limitations. If your organization does not have a NICRA agreement with a cognizant agency, the proposal budget should not have a line item for indirect cost charges. Rather, any costs that may be considered as indirect costs should be itemized and included in specific budget line items as Other Direct Costs. Furthermore, if your proposal involves sub-grants to organizations charging indirect costs, and those organizations also have a NICRA, please submit the applicable NICRA as a .pdf file (see the PSI for more information on indirect cost rate).
Note: To ensure all applications receive a balanced evaluation, the DRL Review Committee will review the requested section only up to the page limit and no further. DRL encourages organizations to use the given space effectively.
Before applying, all applicants are encouraged to call DRL.
The Bureau anticipates awarding a cooperative agreement in the third quarter of 2011. The bulk of funding activities should take place during a three-year time frame. Projects that leverage resources from funds internal to the organization or other sources, such as public-private partnerships, will be highly considered. Projects that have a strong academic or research focus will not be highly considered. Cost sharing is strongly encouraged, and cost-sharing contributions should be outlined in the proposal, budget, and budget narrative.
Pending availability of funds, this cooperative agreement will have an authorized funding level of approximately USD $2,075,000 total to address the parameters above over a three-year timeframe. DRL anticipates granting one award totaling approximately USD $2,075,000 in FY2011 to support the program and administrative costs required to implement this initiative. DRL envisions that between six to 12 programs will be implemented, each in the $250,000 to $500,000 range. Additional future funding may be possible, pending the availability of resources.
DRL will not consider proposals that reflect any type of support for any member, affiliate, or representative of a designated terrorist organization, whether or not they are elected members of government.
PRIMARY APPLICANT/ORGANIZATION CRITERIA Lead Organizations submitting proposals must meet the following criteria:
Be a U.S. non-profit organization meeting the provisions described in Internal Revenue Code section 26 USC 501(c) (3) or a comparable organization headquartered internationally.
Have demonstrated experience administering successful and preferably similar projects. DRL reserves the right to request additional background information on organizations that do not have previous experience administering federal grant awards. These applicants may be subject to limited funding on a pilot basis.
Be a registered user of www.grants.gov.
Have existing, or the capacity to develop, active partnerships with in-country entities and relevant stakeholders including industry and non-government organizations.
Organizations must form a Consortium and submit a joint proposal. However, one organization must be designated as the Primary Applicant/Lead Organization.
An OMB policy directive published in the Federal Register on Friday, June 27, 2003, requires that all organizations applying for Federal grants or cooperative agreements must provide a Dun and Bradstreet (D&B) Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number when applying for all Federal grants or cooperative agreements on or after October 1, 2003. Please reference http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/fedreg/062703_grant_identifier.pdf for the complete OMB policy directive.
REVIEW PROCESS FOR SELECTING LEAD ORGANIZATION AND NGO CONSORTIUM OF JUSTICE AND DIGNITY INITIATIVE
The Bureau will review all proposals for eligibility. Eligible proposals will be subject to compliance of Federal and Bureau regulations and guidelines and may also be reviewed by the Office of the Legal Adviser or by other Department elements. Final signatory authority for assistance awards resides with the Department’s Grants Officer. DRL and the Grants Office reserve the right to request any additional programmatic and/or financial information regarding the proposal.
Proposals will be funded based on an evaluation of how the proposal meets the solicitation review criteria, U.S. foreign policy objectives, and the priority needs of DRL. A Department of State Review Committee will evaluate proposals submitted under this request. Each proposal will be rated along three criteria. Review criteria will include:
1) Institution’s Record and Capacity (40%)
The Lead Organization and each member of the Consortium must demonstrate that they have the institutional capability to carry out the work described in the section “Activities of the Fundamental Freedoms Fund.” More specifically and in order of importance, the Lead Organization and Consortium members must demonstrate the ability to a) evaluate country conditions and draw on theory, experience, and lessons learned to design innovative, effective, and workable programs within their respective areas of expertise as new opportunities and challenges unfold on the ground; b) effectively and efficiently manage programs, including the capability to place them in the field quickly with all necessary support and to start program activities rapidly; c) build and maintain relationships with other organizations, including at the local levels, and key stakeholders; and d) monitor and evaluate program implementation, results, and impact, solve problems, and make course corrections when necessary.
2) Technical Understanding (40%)
The Lead Organization and each member of the Consortium must demonstrate their understanding of the activities of the Fundamental Freedoms Fund by describing the technical approaches they each have used or may use when establishing programs within their respective areas of expertise and which, in some cases, are specifically outlined in this RFP. The Lead Organization and Consortium members must a) demonstrate technical soundness of analysis and proposed programmatic strategies, based on knowledge and understanding of their specific area of expertise and lessons learned; b) include innovative approaches and strategies that are responsive to complex political environments and challenges such as working with limited resources; and c) demonstrate understanding of different strategic approaches and programming priorities as determined by varying country contexts.
3) Past Performance (20%)
The past performance of the Lead Organization and each member of the Consortium will be evaluated, as required by section 4 “Proposal Narrative”under “Technical Requirements for Proposals for the Fundamental Freedoms Fund.”This part of the evaluation will focus on a) the quality of programs, including consistency in meeting goals and targets, achievement of clearly defined outputs and outcomes within the projected timeframe of the program, and effectiveness in addressing and learning from problems; b) cost controls, including forecasting costs and accuracy in financial reporting; and c) effectiveness of key personnel.
DEADLINE AND SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS
Applicants must submit proposals using www.grants.gov by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) on July 14, 2011. Please note that over the next several months www.grants.gov will experience higher than normal application volume due to Recovery Act-related opportunities. DRL will still require applications to be submitted via www.grants.gov but will work with applicants who have trouble in the actual submission process.
Several of the steps in the www.grants.gov registration process can take several weeks. Therefore, applicants should check with appropriate staff within their organizations immediately after reviewing this solicitation to confirm or determine their registration status with www.grants.gov.
Please note: In order to safeguard the security of applicants’ electronic information, www.grants.gov utilizes a credential provider to confirm, with certainty, the applicant organization’s credentials. The credential provider for www.grants.gov is Operational Research Consultants (ORC). Applicants MUST register with ORC to receive a username and password which you will need to register with www.grants.gov as an authorized organization representative (AOR). Once your organization’s E-Business point of contact has assigned these rights, you will be authorized to submit grant applications through www.grants.gov on behalf of your organization.
Each organization will need to be registered with the Central Contractor Registry (CCR), and you will need to have your organization’s DUNS number available to complete this process. For more information regarding the DUNS number, please visit www.dnb.com or call 1-866-705-5711. After your organization registers with the CCR, you must wait approximately three to five business days before you can obtain a username and password. This may delay your ability to post your proposal. Therefore, DRL strongly urges applicants to begin this process on www.grants.gov well in advance of the submission deadline.
No exceptions will be made for organizations that have not completed the necessary steps to post applications on www.grants.gov.
Once registered, the amount of time it can take to upload an application will vary depending on a variety of factors including the size of the application and the speed of your Internet connection. In addition, validation of an electronic submission via www.grants.gov can take up to two business days. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you not wait until the application deadline to begin the submission process through www.grants.gov.
The www.grants.gov website includes extensive information on all phases/aspects of the www.grants.gov process, including an extensive section on frequently asked questions, located under the “For Applicants” section of the website. DRL strongly recommends that all potential applicants review thoroughly www.grants.gov, well in advance of submitting a proposal through the www.grants.gov system.
Direct all questions regarding www.grants.gov registration and submission to:
Contact Center Phone: 800-518-4726
Business Hours: Monday – Friday, 7AM – 9PM Eastern Standard Time
Applicants have until 11:59 p.m. EST of the closing date to ensure that their entire application has been uploaded to www.grants.gov. There are no exceptions to the above deadline. Applications uploaded to the site after midnight of the application deadline date will be automatically rejected by the www.grants.gov system and will be technically ineligible.
Please refer to www.grants.gov for definitions of various “application statuses”and the difference between a submission receipt and a submission validation. Applicants will receive a validation e-mail from www.grants.gov upon the successful submission of an application. Again, validation of an electronic submission via www.grants.gov can take up to two business days. DRL will not notify you upon receipt of electronic applications.
Faxed, couriered, or emailed documents will not be accepted at any time. Applicants must follow all formatting instructions in this document and the PSI.
It is the responsibility of all applicants to ensure that proposals have been received by www.grants.gov in their entirety. DRL bears no responsibility for data errors resulting from transmission or conversion processes.
The information contained in this solicitation is binding and may not be modified by any Bureau representative. Explanatory information provided by the Bureau that contradicts this language will not be binding. Issuance of the solicitation does not constitute an award commitment on the part of the Government. The Bureau reserves the right to reduce, revise, or increase proposal budgets in accordance with the needs of the program evaluation requirements.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION For questions related to proposal submissions, please contact Benton Wisehart at (202) 632-2064 or via email WisehartBP@state.gov.
Once the RFP deadline has passed, U.S. Government officials—including those in the Bureau, the Department, and at embassies/missions overseas—must not discuss this competition with applicants until the entire proposal review process is completed.