Democracy Under Assault: Global Deterioration in Basic Rights and Freedoms

Man waving American flagFreedom House released a new report highlighting an alarming decline of democracies around the globe. According to the report, Freedom in the World 2020: A Leaderless Struggle for Democracy,  the setbacks are apparent not only in authoritarian states, but also among countries that traditionally protect basic rights and freedoms. Significantly, the data suggests that 2019 is yet another year of decline in global freedom, with 64 countries experiencing deterioration in their political rights and civil liberties.

The report offers the following Key Findings:

  • The percentage of Free countries declined consistently over the last decade;
  • The gap between deterioration of political and civil liberties in relation to gains widened;
  • Largest gains and declines appear in Africa with Benin, Mozambique, and Tanzania suffering setbacks while Sudan, Madagascar, and Ethiopia experiencing progress;
  • Most established democracies continue to experience declines in pluralism and good governance;
  • Mass protests exposed public desire for basic freedoms, however, police and pro-governmental repression yielded mixed results;
  • Authoritarian powers continue to expand their global influence through proxies, election interference, and expanding censorship.

The overall effect of these developments results in significant decay of democratic powers coupled with “the unchecked brutality of autocratic regimes.” Specifically, to stem this dangerous trend, democracies should [1] strengthen and protect core democratic values and principles; [2] address threats of manipulation by authoritarian actors; [3] defend and expand democracy around the world via alliances and foreign assistance. Furthermore, the report provides a set of recommendations for the private sector, emphasizing human rights, privacy, and cybersecurity.

For more information, visit the HSDL Featured Topics or our In Focus topic on Mass Gatherings, Electronic Surveillance, Cyber Policy, and Cyber Infrastructure Protection. Please note that an HSDL login is required to view some of these resources.

Need help finding something?  Ask one of our librarians for assistance!