Chapter II. Champion Aspirations for Human Dignity
Section C. The Way Ahead - 2. Explaining the Goal: Promoting Effective Democracies
As tyrannies give way, we must help newly free nations build effective democracies:
states that are respectful of human dignity, accountable to their citizens, and responsible
towards their neighbors. Effective democracies:
· Honor and uphold basic human rights, including freedom of religion, conscience,
speech, assembly, association, and press;
· Are responsive to their citizens, submitting to the will of the people, especially when
people vote to change their government;
· Exercise effective sovereignty and maintain order within their own borders, protect
independent and impartial systems of justice, punish crime, embrace the rule of law,
and resist corruption; and
· Limit the reach of government, protecting the institutions of civil society, including
the family, religious communities, voluntary associations, private property,
independent business, and a market economy.
In effective democracies, freedom is indivisible. Political, religious, and economic
liberty advance together and reinforce each other. Some regimes have opened their
economies while trying to restrict political or religious freedoms. This will not work.
Over time, as people gain control over their economic lives, they will insist on more
control over their political and personal lives as well. Yet political progress can be
jeopardized if economic progress does not keep pace. We will harness the tools of
economic assistance, development aid, trade, and good governance to help ensure that
new democracies are not burdened with economic stagnation or endemic corruption.
National Security Strategy 4
Elections are the most visible sign of a free society and can play a critical role in
advancing effective democracy. But elections alone are not enough they must be
reinforced by other values, rights, and institutions to bring about lasting freedom. Our
goal is human liberty protected by democratic institutions.
Participation in elections by individuals or parties must include their commitment to the
equality of all citizens; minority rights; civil liberties; voluntary and peaceful transfer of
power; and the peaceful resolution of differences. Effective democracy also requires
institutions that can protect individual liberty and ensure that the government is
responsive and accountable to its citizens. There must be an independent media to
inform the public and facilitate the free exchange of ideas. There must be political
associations and political parties that can freely compete. Rule of law must be reinforced
by an independent judiciary, a professional legal establishment, and an honest and
competent police force.
These principles are tested by the victory of Hamas candidates in the recent elections in
the Palestinian territories. The Palestinian people voted in a process that was free, fair,
The Palestinian people having made their choice at the polls, the burden now shifts to
those whom they have elected to take the steps necessary to advance peace, prosperity,
and statehood for the Palestinian people. Hamas has been designated as a terrorist
organization by the United States and European Union (EU) because it has embraced
terrorism and deliberately killed innocent civilians. The international community has
made clear that there is a fundamental contradiction between armed group and militia
activities and the building of a democratic state. The international community has also
made clear that a two-state solution to the conflict requires all participants in the
democratic process to renounce violence and terror, accept Israel's right to exist, and
disarm as outlined in the Roadmap. These requirements are clear, firm, and of long
standing. The opportunity for peace and statehood a consistent goal of this
Administration is open if Hamas will abandon its terrorist roots and change its
relationship with Israel.
The elected Hamas representatives also have an opportunity and a responsibility to
uphold the principles of democratic government, including protection of minority rights
and basic freedoms and a commitment to a recurring, free, and fair electoral process. By
respecting these principles, the new Palestinian leaders can demonstrate their own
commitment to freedom and help bring a lasting democracy to the Palestinian territories.
But any elected government that refuses to honor these principles cannot be considered
fully democratic, however it may have taken office.