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Advancing Effective Democracy

As identified in the National Strategy to Combat Terrorism (NSCT), the long-term approach in the War on Terror is the advancement of freedom and human dignity through democracy. The United States supports democratic reform and political freedom globally to help end terrorism and violent extremism. In Afghanistan and Iraq, 50 million people liberated by United States-led Coalitions from two of the world’s most brutal regimes voted in open and transparent elections despite violence and intimidation. Since 9/11, millions of people in other Muslim countries have also been able to vote in democratic elections, including Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, and the West Bank/Gaza. Color revolutions brought democratic governments to power in Georgia and Ukraine. And in Liberia, Africa’s first elected female leader took power, bringing an end to years of conflict and turmoil.

Elections are a visible sign of a free society, but they alone are not enough to advance democracy. Effective democracies exercise effective sovereignty and maintain order within their own borders, address causes of conflict peacefully, protect independent and impartial systems of justice, punish crime, embrace the rule of law, and resist corruption. Effective democracies also limit the reach of government, protecting the institutions of civil society. Effective democracies are the long-term antidote to the ideology of terrorism.  

Because a lack of governance capacity impedes counterterrorism efforts and creates conditions ripe for the proliferation of terrorist movements, the United States is engaged in encouraging the rule of law, promoting democratic governance, and facilitating economic development. Efforts include:

Our bilateral and multilateral efforts to promote fundamental freedoms continue to bear fruit. Citing improvements in both political rights and civil liberties, Freedom House notes that “The Freedom in the World 2006 ratings for the Middle East represent the region’s best performance in the history of the survey” and that this positive trajectory has been on the rise since 9/11.



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