where we work


United States of America

Waging Peace

The only times the Carter Center's Democracy Program has operated within the boundaries of the United States were when monitoring key elections conducted by the Cherokee Nation. The Center hosts the annual Human Rights Defenders Forum, and two U.S. organizations were awarded the Carter-Menil Human Rights Prize in 1992.

+Cherokee Nation Elections

2011 Elections

In September 2011, a Carter Center delegation observed the Cherokee Nation's special election for principal chief. The election marked a transition of power from a 12-year incumbency in a vote that was inclusive and a counting process that was credible and accurate.

The Carter Center was invited to observe the special election for principal chief by the Cherokee Nation Election Commission. Twelve Carter Center observers were deployed throughout the 14 counties of the Cherokee Nation and visited all 38 polling precincts, and observers were present at the Election Commission for much of election day. They also witnessed all three days of the vote-counting process and additional days of voting. The extra days of voting and the counting process were conducted transparently. On Oct. 12, the CNEC certified election results that declared candidate Bill John Baker the victor, having received 53.97 percent of all votes.

The Center assessed the electoral process based on the Cherokee Nation legal framework and international obligations and good practice for democratic elections.

1999 Elections

At the invitation of the Cherokee Nation Election Commission, all the major candidates, and key civic leaders within the nation, The Carter Center observed the May 22, 1999, Cherokee Nation elections for the positions of principal chief, deputy chief, and all 15 Tribal Council seats. In a postelection statement, The Carter Center noted that the Cherokee Nation election was well-run and met professional standards for an acceptable process. Carter Center monitors returned to Oklahoma to witness a runoff election on July 24, 1999.

+Defending Human Rights

Human Rights Defenders Policy Forum

Human rights activists from countries worldwide gather periodically at the Human Rights Defenders Policy Forum at The Carter Center to discuss national and global issues affecting the enjoyment of human rights, such as the state of U.S. commitments to human rights and effective ways to bridge gaps between religious, traditional, and formal state institutions to advance the protection of women's rights. Discussions are led by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, and following each event, a delegation meets with U.S. officials in Washington, D.C., to discuss the forum's issues and goals as they relate to U.S. policy.

Learn more about the Human Rights Defenders Policy Forum >

Carter-Menil Human Rights Prize

The Carter-Menil Human Rights Prize was awarded in 1992 to two U. S. groups: the Haitian Refugee Center, founded to protect the civil and constitutional rights of Haitians seeking refuge in the United States, and the Native American Rights Fund, a national advocacy group specializing in the law and legal representation of Native Americans.

President Carter and Dominique de Menil established the $100,000 prize to recognize individuals or organizations for their outstanding efforts on behalf of human rights, often at great personal sacrifice. The award enabled human rights activists to continue their work and focused global attention on their struggles for justice.

+The Atlanta Project

The Carter Center launched The Atlanta Project in 1991 to address some of the complex and entrenched social problems associated with urban poverty in the city. Based on grassroots participation by volunteers and community leaders, The Atlanta Project worked to generate creative responses in the areas of education, housing, economic development, health, and criminal justice. In 1999, Georgia State University was given a grant to continue the groundbreaking work of The Atlanta Project.

Fighting Disease

Most of the Carter Center's programming occurs outside the United States, with the exception of the Mental Health Program, founded by former First Lady Rosalynn Carter in 1991. In conjunction with national partners, the program is building hope for a future where all Americans with mental disorders will receive access to treatment they need.

+Mental Health Care in the United States

The Carter Center's Mental Health Program works primarily in the United States to promote awareness about mental health issues, inform public policy, achieve equity for mental health care comparable to other health care, and reduce stigma and discrimination against those with mental illnesses.

The program brings together health leaders and national organizations to discuss important issues facing the mental health care system at the annual Rosalynn Carter Symposium on Mental Health Policy, while the Rosalynn Carter Georgia Mental Health Forum targets issues at the state level. All program activities are guided by the Center's Mental Health Task Force.

Since 1996, the Carter Center's Mental Health Program also has worked in the United States and other countries to help facilitate more accurate and balanced media coverage of mental illnesses to improve the public's understanding of these issues and combat stigma and discrimination against people living with mental health problems. Recipients of the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism from the United States have produced award-winning books, newspaper articles, and radio and video documentaries covering topics such as mental health care for the homeless, suicide, and aging and mental health.

The Center also works at a national policy level to improve behavioral health care access and quality in the primary care system through its Primary Care Initiative.

In addition, since 2008, via its only local program, The Carter Center has been working with mental health stakeholders in Georgia to help bring forward solutions to help the state government address Georgia's crumbling public mental health care system.

Learn more about the Carter Center's involvement in resolving Georgia's mental health crisis.

Read the Global Health magazine 2011 essay: "Stigma Research To Build Better Mental Health," page 19 >

Read the Wall Street Journal news story: "How Doctors Try To Spot Depression" >

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Size: 9,833,517 square kilometers

Population: 326,625,791

Population below poverty line: 15.1 percent

Life expectancy: 80 years

Ethnic groups: white, black, Asian, Amerindian and Alaska native, native Hawaiian and other Pacific islander, other, two or more races

Religions: Protestant, Roman Catholic, Mormon, other Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Jehovah’s Witness, Hindu, other, unaffiliated

Languages: English, Spanish, other Indo-European, Asian and Pacific island, other

Source: U.S. Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook 2018


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