Democracy, Human Rights, and American Foreign Policy

Project Expert

Elliott Abrams
Elliott Abrams

Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies

About the Project

What role should the promotion of democracy and human rights play in U.S. foreign policy? Over the last decade, human rights groups have documented a decline in freedom around the world. In some countries, such as Venezuela and Egypt, elected leaders used democracy to get into power and then abused that power; in others, such as Russia, autocrats have increased the level of repression against their opponents. The United States must weigh the importance of promoting democracy and respect for human rights, and determine what tools are most effective in doing so. How should the United States help democratic activists build stronger parties and coalitions? Can it help protect such people while they work for democracy in dangerous settings? These are issues I address in roundtables and regular writings. As Special Representative for Venezuela at the State Department in 2019 and 2020, I faced many of these issues directly. I plan to examine my experiences during those two years in the hope of elucidating how the United States can most effectively promote democracy.  



The repression of the Catholic Church in Nicaragua continues to deepen, but Pope Francis has not responded with the levels of support that are needed.


Doomsday predictions about the consequences of Israel's election are overwrought. Some of the proposed legal reforms would bring Israel's system closer to the U.S. model.


Touring Cuba is all the rage these days, with new scheduled flights, cruise ships, and largely phony "educational" visits. But one man who will not be visiting Cuba is the Secretary-General of the…