This marks the 35th year that the State Department has produced the annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices covering 194 countries. The U.S. government compiles the human rights report, not just because we have to, but because we believe it is imperative for countries, including our own, to ensure that respect for human rights is an integral component of foreign policy.
The 2010 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices provide a wealth of detail on human rights conditions around the world. It is worth noting that because we are publishing this report four months into 2011, our perspectives on many issues are now framed by the dramatic changes sweeping across countries in the Middle East in 2011. Historians will have the benefit of time and perspective to help understand what triggered these popular movements, but it is clear three trends clearly contributed to their development and to other changes that occurred throughout the world in 2010.
The first is the explosive growth of non-governmental advocacy organizations focused on a wide range of democracy and human rights issues and causes. A second notable trend is the dramatic growth of the Internet, mobile phones, and other connective technologies that allow instantaneous communications to billions of people across the globe. A third development is the continuing rise of violence, persecution, and official and societal discrimination of members of vulnerable groups, often racial, religious, or ethnic minorities or disempowered majorities. Further information on all three of these trends is more fully documented in the Introduction to this year's reports, as well as in specific country reports.
This year, in addition to the country reports, we are very pleased to introduce a new website, HumanRights.gov. HumanRights.gov is the official U.S. government website for international human rights related information. While the country reports provide an overview of a year's worth of events, the website contains current news, as well as an archive of reports, press releases, statements, articles and briefings issued by the Federal government. We welcome your comments on how the site can be improved and grow in the months ahead.