Speaking Tuesday at the 45th Annual Washington Conference of the Council of the Americas, Secretary of State John Kerry said that "countries are far more likely to advance economically and socially when citizens have faith in their governments and are able to rely on them for justice and equal treatment under the law." Kerry said that a "new kind of relationship" with Latin American countries, emphasizing democracy and human rights, will contribute to "our common agenda for the hemisphere." Here are Kerry's remarks in fuller context:
At the UN Human Rights Council last fall, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Uruguay joined the United States in sponsoring a resolution in support of LGBT rights. Our landmark Open Government Partnership, which the United States launched with Brazil five years ago, is now chaired by Mexico. And over the past three years, we have worked with partners, including Costa Rica, Mexico, Chile, and Jamaica, to help strengthen the independent bodies of the Inter-American Human Rights System. Many of the globe’s leading voices for human rights and the rule of law, obviously, share Spanish as their native tongue.
Why does this matter? Well, it matters because countries are far more likely to advance economically and socially when citizens have faith in their governments and are able to rely on them for justice and equal treatment under the law. It matters because young people who have opportunities at home will stay and contribute to their societies instead of leaving in search of better luck elsewhere. It matters because freedom of thought and expression are the keys to innovation, which is how whole new industries begin. It matters because, in that most curious of ways, people who are given the liberty to be different are also the ones most likely to unite and band together in the face of shared threats.If faith in government is a necessary factor for a country's economic and social advancement, a recent Pew Research Center study, via the Washington Post, is not a good sign. The Post notes that the study found that only "23 percent [of Americans] trust the federal government to do the right thing 'at least most of the time.'"
Note: A version of this post first appeared at The Weekly Standard.