Freedom House works to defend human rights and promote democratic change, with a focus on political rights and civil liberties. We act as a catalyst for freedom through a combination of analysis, advocacy, and action. Our analysis, focused on 13 central issues, is underpinned by our international program work. Browse our work and analysis by issue below.
The world’s authoritarian regimes understand that domestic repression alone will not ensure their survival. Over the past two decades, they have extended their influence beyond their own borders in an attempt to silence critics, subvert democratic governments, and reshape international norms and institutions to serve their own interests.
Democracy during Pandemic
The coronavirus outbreak presents a range of new challenges to democracy and human rights. Repressive regimes have responded to the pandemic in ways that serve their political interests, often at the expense of public health and basic freedoms. Even open societies face pressure to accept restrictions that may outlive the crisis and have a lasting effect on liberty.
Technology & Democracy
Rapidly advancing information and communication technologies have had a profound impact on democracy around the world. They have provided new platforms for civic mobilization and the dissemination of news and commentary, but they are also subject to censorship, surveillance, and exploitation by antidemocratic forces.
Democracies in Decline
In every region of the world, democracy is under attack by populist leaders and groups that reject pluralism and demand unchecked power to advance the particular interests of their supporters, usually at the expense of minorities and other perceived foes.
Promoting U.S. Leadership
Freedom House believes that the United States has an essential part to play in the global struggle for liberty. The US has a unique capacity and a moral obligation to cultivate alliances with free nations and lend support to democracy advocates in authoritarian or transitional settings. As the world’s most influential democracy, the US has an essential part to play in the global struggle for liberty. Doing so ultimately protects the freedom, security, and prosperity of Americans by promoting stable democratic governance, preventing armed conflicts and failed states, and ensuring an international order based on human rights and the rule of law.
Free and fair elections are a foundational component of political freedom. There is more to democracy than free and fair elections, but there can be no democracy without them. Constant vigilance is required to protect this foundational component of political freedom from the threats arrayed against it, which range from old-fashioned fraud on election day to media manipulation and regulatory obstacles during the campaign period.
Equality & Human Rights
Democracy depends on the guarantee of equal rights under law and freedom from discrimination for all individuals in a society. If the rights and freedoms of one segment of the population are violated with impunity, the same sorts of abuses are likely to be visited on others. Those forced to endure a subordinate status have less incentive to play by the rules, creating a vicious circle of defiance and repression.
The ability of journalists to report freely on matters of public interest is a crucial indicator of democracy. A free press can inform citizens of their leaders’ successes or failures, convey the people’s needs and desires to government bodies, and provide a platform for the open exchange of information and ideas. When media freedom is restricted, these vital functions break down, leading to poor decision-making and harmful outcomes for leaders and citizens alike.
Government Accountability & Transparency
A well-functioning democracy requires strong safeguards against official corruption, which erodes public services as well as public faith in the democratic system. Corruption can also give unfair advantages to incumbent politicians and create pathways for malign interference by foreign powers.
Strengthening Civil Society
When governments fail to act in the public interest, and opposition parties are unwilling or unable to offer a credible alternative, it is up to civil society organizations to identify abuses and advocate for reforms. Freedom House works around the world to provide local civic groups with the tools they need to advance democratic governance in their own countries.
Freedom of Assembly
The right to assemble peacefully is a fundamental prerequisite for any open and self-governing society. While most countries’ constitutions promise freedom of assembly, far fewer governments uphold this basic right without undue restrictions.
Freedom of Expression
Free speech and expression is the lifeblood of democracy, facilitating open debate, the proper consideration of diverse interests and perspectives, and the negotiation and compromise necessary for consensual policy decisions. Efforts to suppress nonviolent expression, far from ensuring peace and stability, can allow unseen problems to fester and erupt in far more dangerous forms.
Freedom of worship—of belief and nonbelief—is an important element of democracy, contributing to social peace, encouraging full political participation, and strengthening pluralism more broadly.
Freedom House is on the front lines in promoting freedom and democracy in some of the most repressive societies around the world.
Emergency Assistance Programs
Around the world, journalists, human rights defenders and civil society activists and organizations come under threat because they stand up for their fellow citizens.
Human Rights Support Programming
Implemented by the PROGRESS consortium of core partner organizations, the Human Rights Support Mechanism deploys programs that promote universally recognized human rights.