Promoting human rights is essential to U.S. policy

Franklin Delano Roosevelt at lectern with many microphones as two men sit behind him (© AP Images)
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt addresses a joint session of Congress on January 6, 1941, as Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn, left, and Vice President John N. Garner look on. With World War II looming, Roosevelt used the address to outline his Four Freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear. (© AP Images)

In the 80 years since President Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered his Four Freedoms speech — citing freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear — the United States has made these democratic principles central to its foreign policy.

Today, the United States continues to champion human rights as a critical component of U.S. foreign policy. Together with democratic partners, the United States helps advance human rights and fundamental freedoms through bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, public diplomacy and foreign assistance.

The United States also speaks out against foreign entities and individuals who violate or abuse human rights, documenting concerns in the annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. The U.S. imposes financial sanctions and visa restrictions on gross human rights abusers according to U.S. law.

The United States recently sanctioned the China National Electronics Import & Export Corporation for providing monitoring and censoring tools to the illegitimate regime of Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela, where journalists are arrested for reporting the truth and internet freedom is compromised.

The People’s Republic of China is also known for censoring its own citizens, both online and in the media. The PRC’s “Great Firewall” prevents anyone in China from accessing Facebook and other global social media providers, while the government also monitors the words people use in personal letters and telephone calls.

U.S. officials continue to express concern about violations and abuses of the freedoms of expression, religion and assembly.

The U.S. government is committed to working with like-minded democracies around the world to uphold the core tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which align with U.S. values set forth in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

“Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights or keep them,” Roosevelt concluded his address. “Our strength is our unity of purpose. To that high concept there can be no end save victory.”