Freedom at Issue:

Insights on the global struggle for democracy

January 2013

Leonard R. Sussman

Max M. Kampelman was many men to many people. He was well known to presidents who appointed him to vital national missions. As a public servant, he displayed personal courage in advancing controversial causes in national and international affairs.

This Thursday, former senator Chuck Hagel will appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee to seek confirmation as secretary of defense. While he will not have primary responsibility for U.S. foreign relations in that post, he will have substantial influence over U.S. policy toward regimes that are hostile to both American interests and democracy. Senator Hagel’s record on these issues raises critical questions that should be addressed during the hearing, which are included in the following blog post.

One of the primary demands of the 2011 Egyptian revolution was to end the three decades of emergency rule under President Hosni Mubarak. But two years later, President Mohamed Morsi has declared a state of emergency in three canal cities: Port Said, Suez, and Ismailya.

Earlier this month, Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa replaced Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake with a political ally following a parliamentary impeachment process that was deemed unconstitutional. While the government claimed that Bandaranayake had abused her position for personal gain, her ouster was widely regarded as a Rajapaksa vendetta and yet another blow to judicial independence in the country. In the wake of this showdown between the branches of government, the judiciary has been reduced to little more than an appendage of the ruling party. According to the latest edition of Freedom in the World, Sri Lanka experienced declines in political rights and civil liberties indicators in 2012, adding to a multiyear deterioration. If January is any indication, the coming year promises more of the same.

Driven by a growing fear of its own people and their demands for better governance, the Sudanese regime is intensifying its assault on humanitarian organizations and human rights activists, both at home and abroad.

 

Tyler Roylance

When a New York Times columnist feels the need to tell his readers, “Don’t get me wrong—I am hardly advocating totalitarian government,” something has probably gone badly awry in his analysis.

Freedom House has compiled a series of questions for Senator John Kerry, who has been nominated as the next U.S. secretary of state. Kerry’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled for Thursday, January 24.

This week marks the release of Freedom in the World 2013, the latest edition of an annual report on global political rights and civil liberties that Freedom House launched nearly 40 years ago.  Of the 195 sovereign countries assessed in this year’s report, none was as important to the future direction of global freedom as Egypt, and none was as complex. Egypt, in fact, showed sufficient gains for the year to register an improvement from Not Free to Partly Free on the Freedom House scale. But as the overview narrative for the report notes, “Developments in Egypt encapsulated a pattern in which gains for freedom in the Middle East and North Africa were threatened by opposition from governments, security forces, ruling families, or religiously based political factions.”
 

Arch Puddington
Jennifer Dunham

The findings for Freedom in the World 2013, which were released this week, reflect a complex picture for the state of global freedom. On one hand, the number of countries ranked in the Free category increased to 90, an impressive share of the world’s 195 sovereign states. At the same time, more countries, 27, suffered significant setbacks in their freedom indicators than showed notable gains, 16, marking the seventh consecutive year in which declines outnumbered improvements.

On January 2, Ecuador’s National Assembly approved President Rafael Correa’s request to take a 30-day leave of absence during the campaign for the February 17 general elections. The law allows for a maximum of 30 days of unpaid leave for a candidate running for immediate reelection. Correa’s leave will be effective from January 15—11 days after the beginning of the electoral campaign—until February 14. The president stated that he had requested the leave to ensure that government business is unaffected by his campaigning, and also as “a courtesy.”

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