Freedom in the World 2010

While the full survey results won’t be available until late spring, Freedom House has released (as of last month) much of the constituent information that will ultimately appear in the upcoming Freedom in the World 2010, their comprehensive and invaluable annual survey of global political rights and civil liberties.

As they observe, “according to the survey’s findings, 2009 marked the fourth consecutive year in which global freedom suffered a decline—the longest consecutive period of setbacks for freedom in the nearly 40-year history of the report.” The authors explain that “these declines were most pronounced in Sub-Saharan Africa, although they also occurred in most other regions of the world. Furthermore, the erosion in freedom took place during a year marked by intensified repression against human rights defenders and democracy activists by many of the world’s most powerful authoritarian regimes, including Russia and China.”

As Freedom House indicates in the press release accompanying the release of the data, “declines for freedom were registered in 40 countries in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and the former Soviet Union, representing 20 percent of the world’s total polities. Authoritarian states including Iran, Russia, Venezuela, and Vietnam became more repressive. Declines in freedom also occurred in countries that had registered positive trends in previous years, including Bahrain, Jordan, Kenya, and Kyrgyzstan.”

Arch Puddington, Freedom House Director of Research suggested that “the news for 2009 is cause for real concern. The decline is global, affects countries with military and economic power, affects countries that had previously shown signs of reform potential, and is accompanied by enhanced persecution of political dissidents and independent journalists. To make matters worse, the most powerful authoritarian regimes have become more repressive, more influential in the international arena, and more uncompromising.”

Published since 1972, Freedom in the World assesses “the ability of individuals to exercise their political and civil rights in 194 countries and 14 territories around the world. The survey analyzes developments that occurred in 2009 and assigns each country a freedom status—Free, Partly Free, or Not Free—based on a scoring of performance on key indicators.

“In this year’s findings, five countries moved into Not Free status, and the number of electoral democracies declined to the lowest level since 1995. Sixteen countries made notable gains, with two countries improving their overall freedom status. The most significant improvements in 2009 occurred in Asia.”

The key global findings of the upcoming report are that:

“Free: The number of countries designated by Freedom in the World as Free in 2009 stands at 89, representing 46 percent of the world’s 194 countries and 46 percent of the world population.

“Partly Free: The number of Partly Free countries declined to 58, or 30 percent of all countries assessed by the survey, comprising 20 percent of the world’s total population.

“Not Free: The number of countries deemed to be Not Free increased to 47, or 24 percent of the total number of countries. Over 2.3 billion people live in societies where fundamental political rights and civil liberties are not respected. China accounts for half of this number.

“Electoral Democracies: The number of electoral democracies dropped by three and stands at 116. Developments in four countries—Honduras, Madagascar, Mozambique, and Niger—disqualified them from the electoral democracy list, while conditions in the Maldives improved enough for it to be added.

“Worst of the Worst: Of the 47 countries ranked Not Free, nine countries and one territory received the survey’s lowest possible rating for both political rights and civil liberties: Burma, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Tibet, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Eritrea was downgraded to this level in the past year.”

For more on the fundamentals of the report, see the Freedom House press release or the excellent 17-page overview essay Freedom in the World 2010: Erosion of Freedom Intensifies.

Freedom House also produces an excellent series of tables, graphs and charts (12 pages in all) visually summarizing its findings.

You’ll find the global map of freedom reproduced above here.

For yet more information about Freedom House or its pending report Freedom in the World, see our discussion of the 2009 report here or visit the Freedom House website here.

Published in: on February 23, 2010 at 1:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

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