The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 1, 2008

Fact Sheet: Advancing Freedom and Democracy Around the World

U.S. Pursues Freedom Agenda By Strengthening Support For Democratic Dissidents, Helping Build Democratic Institutions

"Today, America speaks anew to the peoples of the world: All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors.  When you stand for liberty, we will stand with you."

 – President George W. Bush, 1/20/05

May 3 marks World Press Freedom Day.  We stand with journalists, editors, and bloggers who continue their work in spite of the risks.  We call on all governments to guarantee the inalienable rights of their people, including, consistent with Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the right to freedom of speech and the press.  During Fiscal Year 2007, the United States provided $78 million in approximately 40 countries to promote media freedom and freedom of information. President Bush has met with many journalists and editors who are struggling against forces that seek to suppress media freedom.  We salute these courageous individuals, and we recognize the importance of the right to a free press in spreading freedom around the world.

The United States is committed to the advance of freedom and democracy as the great alternatives to repression and radicalism.  The most powerful weapon in the struggle against extremism is the universal appeal of freedom.  Freedom is the best way to unleash the creativity and economic potential of a nation, the only ordering of a society that leads to justice, and the only way to achieve and permanently protect human rights.

The Administration created a Human Rights Defenders Fund in 2007, which provides grants for the legal defense and medical expenses of activists arrested or beaten by repressive governments.  This fund began with $1.5 million and will be replenished as needed:

Since December 2007, the Secretary of State has presented awards annually to recognize those striving to advance human dignity.

Under The Freedom Agenda, America Is Helping Emerging Democracies Build The Institutions That Sustain Liberty

The President has more than doubled funding for democracy, governance, and human rights programs since taking office, and his Budget continues to increase funding in these areas.  The Fiscal Year 2009 Budget Request strengthens governance and the rule of law and fosters independent media, democratic political parties, voter education, election monitoring, and human rights.  The Fiscal Year 2009 Budget requests $1.72 billion for these activities, up from approximately $1.36 billion in Fiscal Year 2008 and $650 million in Fiscal Year 2001.  In addition, the Fiscal Year 2009 Budget Request provides $80 million for the National Endowment for Democracy, up from $31 million in 2001.

It is the responsibility of those who enjoy the blessings of liberty to help those who are struggling to establish free societies.  America is working with its partners through multilateral organizations to advance freedom and liberty.  This includes:

America is also using its influence to urge valued partners like Egypt and Saudi Arabia to move toward free political systems.  These nations have taken action to confront extremists, yet they have a great distance to travel to expand liberty and transparency.  The U.S. will continue to press nations like these to open up their political systems and give a greater voice to their people.

Under The Freedom Agenda, America Is Strengthening Support For Pro-Democracy Dissidents and Activists

On June 7, 2007, The President announced he had asked Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to direct every U.S. Ambassador in an un-free Nation to seek out and meet with activists for democracy and human rights.
The President has met personally with more than 100 dissidents, democratic and human rights activists, and independent journalists and their family members, including:


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