Excerpt of a speech by US ambassador to Cameroon, Robert P. Jackson, to a gathering of Cameroonian civil society leaders.
"Perhaps it’s a somewhat banal notion, but in the end human rights is not much more than a fancy term for the kind of relationships we’d like to have with our neighbors: When we do wrong, we must make amends and treat each other fairly; when we disagree, we each speak our mind; when we’re different, we must live and let live."
In the end, however, my role, and the role of the U.S. Embassy, in the promotion and maintenance of human rights is limited. For there is no amount of advocacy or support the United States can offer that is more potent or more fundamental for the respect of human rights than grassroots mobilization. We can talk until we’re blue in the face (trust me, we can, we’re diplomats), but we cannot make changes in this society from the top down. We can suggest and we can cajole, but only you are capable of truly persuading those around you to be the change they want to see. Contrary to what conspiracy theorists might tell you, change doesn’t start in my Embassy, it starts in your neighborhoods, your villages, your towns, and your regions.