A new global architecture will ensure America’s global leadership over the next century, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said this morning, outlining an effort to “rethink, reform and recalibrate” US foreign policy.
Supporting democracy, human rights and independent civil society will remain a key policy focus, but she cautioned that US leadership abroad requires a robust economy at home, stressing the interdependence of “economic might and moral authority.”
The defense of democratic values and independent civil society will remain a focus of US foreign policy, she told the Council on Foreign Relations, not least “on the digital frontiers of the 21st century.”
“In too many places, new democracies are struggling to grow strong roots,” she said. “Authoritarian regimes are cracking down on civil society and pluralism.”
“This world-view must be confronted and challenged,” she said. “Democracy needs defending.” She reiterated her commitment made at the Krakow meeting of the Community of Democracies to establish a new fund to support civil society and embattled NGOs.
At a time of democratic regression and a backlash against independent civil society, the US is “working to cement democracy, human rights and the rule of law” into the foundations of international and regional institutions, “to construct an architecture of values …. that can not only counter repression and resist pressure on human rights, but also extend those fundamental freedoms to places where they have been too long denied.”
The US seeks to build a new global architecture based on “a network of alliances and partnerships, regional organizations and global institutions, that is durable and dynamic enough to help us meet today’s challenges and adapt to threats that we cannot even conceive of, just as our parents never dreamt of melting glaciers or dirty bombs.”
The new architecture will be based on old alliances and new partnerships, she said, not least with “engaging emerging centers of influence”, including the BRIC states, Turkey, Indonesia, South Africa and Mexico. But the new engagement will go beyond traditional state-to-state diplomacy, taking advantage of new communications technology to speak directly with foreign publics.
“Technology and the spread of democracy have empowered people around the world to speak up and demand a say in their own future,” she said. “Public opinions and passions matter, even in authoritarian states.”