American Dream / 2
Some weeks ago, an Associated Press dispatch remembered the great commitment by US Senator John McCain in promoting human rights around the world. Since January 1993, in fact, McCain has been the chairman of the International Republican Institute (IRI), a nonprofit organization devoted to enhance and strengthen democratic values and practices in dozens of countries, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.
“Let us now begin a major effort to secure the best – a crusade for freedom that will engage the faith and fortitude of the next generation. For the sake of peace and justice, let us move toward a world in which all people are at last free to determine their own destiny.” These words by President Ronald Reagan in a 1982 speech before the British Parliament were the inspiration that led to the establishment of the IRI.
In his historic speech, President Reagan set America on a course of assisting those who wanted freedom and democracy everywhere. Quoting the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, he stated “we must be staunch in our conviction that freedom is not the sole prerogative of a lucky few but the inalienable and universal right of all human beings.”
Congress responded to President Reagan’s call in 1983 when it created the National Endowment for Democracy to support aspiring democrats worldwide. Four nonprofit, nonpartisan democracy institutes were formed to carry out this work – IRI, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), and the American Center for International Labor Solidarity (ACILS).
In its infancy, IRI focused on planting the seeds of democracy in Latin America. Since the end of the Cold War, IRI has broadened its operations. IRI has conducted programs in more than 100 countries and is currently active in 70 countries (among others Russia, China, Afghanistan, Sudan, Colombia, Indonesia, Pakistan and Iraq: those governments work with it or at least tolerate it…)
Its activities include teaching and assisting with political party and candidate development, good governance practices, civil society development, civic education, women’s and youth leadership development, electoral reform and election monitoring, political expression in closed societies.
Now Arizona Senator McCain can be the next President of the United States of America…