I am delighted to join Human Rights First in welcoming human rights defenders from around the world. I am touched that you have chosen to honor Ambassador Chris Stevens with the Beacon Award. Chris stood up for human rights in the best possible way -- through the power of his own example. To his family, I extend my congratulations for this award, which would have meant so much to him.
As Chris knew--and as all of you know--promoting human rights is risky work. You put yourselves in harm's way because you know that respecting universal rights and freedoms is what makes it possible for people to live with dignity, to have a say in decisions that affect their lives, and to try to improve their lives and communities. And the United States supports you in this.
Advancing human rights is essential to America's foreign policy, because it's the right thing to do, and because it promotes national security and international stability. Societies that deny their people these rights and freedoms are on the wrong side of history, and they're making the wrong bet.
Congratulations and thank you for all you do to hold all governments accountable for living up to universal human rights standards. Your work is helping to advance freedom and human dignity, and making the world a more peaceful place.