Public Diplomacy Forum - USIA The Rostrum

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Updated April 5, 1999

Issue: Democracy

International crises engage world governments in complex negotiations seeking to maintain order and prevent conflict. The United States is almost always a major player. People in other countries regularly question U.S. motives, sometimes agreeing, sometimes disagreeing, sometimes misunderstanding in the absence of accurate information. USIA conducts programs, events, and activities overseas to explain both the official American position and the thinking of American citizens to foreign audiences.

Hot Issues:    HUMAN RIGHTS

Human Rights

The United States is a nation founded on the principle of individual rights and is still working to fully realize the ideals enshrined in its Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Americans dedicated to the principle that advancing fundamental rights and liberties is an obligation not just of the world's governments, but also of the world's peoples, either acting as committed individuals or together in voluntary association.

Recent landmark:  50th Anniversary of UN Declaration on Human Rights

Recent programs

Your comments about the public diplomacy aspects of this issue,
as well as personal accounts of "citizen diplomacy," are welcome. 

View others' comments


Combat Trafficking in Women

The problem of trafficking in women and girls, an insidious form of violence, has received a great deal of attention from the world community. This is an international problem with national implications. Here in the United States, we have seen cases of trafficking for the purposes of foreced prostitution, sweatshop labor, and exploitative domestic servitude. The victims in these cases often believe they will be entering our country to secure a decent job. Instead, they are virtual prisoners, with no resources, little recourse, and no protection against violations of their human rights. My Administration is committed to combating trafficking in women and girls with a focus on the areas of prevention, victim assistance and protection, and enforcement.

President Bill Clinton
March 11, 1998

USIA has assumed responsibility for an intergovernmental response to the Government of Ukraine's request to jointly develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to combat trafficking in women and girls from and to Ukraine. The U.S.-Ukraine cooperation will serve as a model for a multi-disciplinary approach to combat trafficking that can be expanded to other countries. Reaching beyond the government sector, USIA also works closely with non-governmental organizations, such as Global Survival Network, to address the issue.

Recent programs

Your comments about the public diplomacy aspects of this issue,
as well as personal accounts of "citizen diplomacy," are welcome. 


Rostrum Discussion Area
Comments and program notes received by PDForum:


     I think it would be a good idea for U.S. to find people in Europe in order to explain very simply to ordinary people the targets of your politics, because a lot of people do confusion between your financial interest, and your aspiration to better democracy, it is the main difficulty you must face. It is the main reason for socialist and communist and islamist Europe.
      I am 54 years old, and I remember what my parents say about June 6 1944, and the arrival of freedom in Belgium at this time.
     I think that you must insist very strongly on this event, like jewish people insist on the "showa", because the memory can disappear little by little. Friendly sorry for the mistakes but it is not easy for me.


USIA's Washington Foreign Press Center staffers worked late February 25 to duplicate individual sections of the 1998 State Department human rights report for distribution February 26. A dozen foreign journalists were waiting at the front door when the FPC opened at 7:30 a.m. By mid-morning over 50 foreign media had sent someone to pick up sections of the embargoed report, with more to come.


The Czech Republic has been identified as an important transit site for trafficking in women, but recognition of the problem has lagged. In order to raise Czech public awareness of trafficking and the work of law enforcement, USIS hosted NGO La Strada's international panel discussion "Prevention of Trafficking in Women in Postcommunist Countries." La Strada representatives from the Czech Republic, Poland, Bulgaria, Ukraine, and the Netherlands met with journalists and NGO, government and embassy representatives to discuss the problem in the region and offer ideas for prevention. Extensive media coverage should educate the public to the dangers of trafficking and encourage understanding and assistance for the victims. USIS Prague cooperation with La Strada demonstrated the multiplier effects of USIS programs which have facilitated networking among women in the region. Czech grantees to the Women's Leadership Training Workshop in Krakow in July joined with colleagues they met at the conference to organize this discussion.

(U.S. Information Service, Prague)


Last year the Hungarian government's Office of Equal Opportunity asked USIA's American Resource Center in Budapest for information about U.S. laws regulating prostitution, particularly examples under which the clients of prostitution can be prosecuted. The Office of Equal Opportunity, now reconstituted as the Department of Women's Issues in the new Ministry of Social and Family Affairs, built information from relevant state laws into its "Proposal on Prostitution and Trafficking Women". The information helped disprove the Ministry of Interior's contention that no government authority anywhere targets clients of prostitutes.

(U.S. Information Service, Budapest)


     "I am interested in Human Rights and in the very core of them - Religious Freedom. Thanks to US Congress for accepting The International Religious Freedom Act to protect freedom abroad.
     I am an orthodox priest of Moscow Patriarchate. I was a professor of theology in St Petersburg Orthodox Academy during 10 years. But I was dismissed because of my disagreement with the new Law on Freedom of Consciense and Religious Associations, passed a year ago in Russia. Now I am in the Center for the Study of Human Rights (Columbia University, 1108 International Affair Building, Mail Code: 3365, New York, NY, 10027,, t: 212-8542479) to study the theory of Human Rights for one semester. I am going home on 12/27/1998.
     We have discussed the The International Religious Freedom Act. I think that it is very important Act to promote the freedom, tolerance, democracy, civil society all over the world. I and my friends are longing for such an act for a long time. Be sure that a necessity in such Act is very urgent in Russia. If you need some help relating to Russia please address me.

     With deep respect and best wishes,


The Cincinnati Enquirer recently reported that two University of Cincinnati professors traveled recently to give lectures commemorating the 50th anniversary of the United Nation's adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The anniversary was December 10, 1998. Law professor Bert Lockwood is visiting Sri Lanka, Nepal and Lithuania. Political science professor Howard Tolley is visiting Istanbul and Turkey. Their presentations to parliamentarians, party and government officials, attorneys, students and faculty and other groups are sponsored by the U.S. Information Agency.



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