Freedom at Issue: Insights on the global struggle for democracy | Freedom House

Freedom at Issue:

Insights on the global struggle for democracy

The final results of the London Olympics are in, and those who root for democracy in other contexts can take pride in the outcome. Nearly two-thirds of the total medals—and of gold medals—were won by countries that are designated as Free in Freedom in the World. Countries designated as Not Free grabbed slightly more than a quarter of all medals and around 30 percent of gold medals.

A recent study conducted by Freedom House and the Broadcasting Board of Governors evaluated a comprehensive range of mobile technologies—from smartphone devices including iPhone, Nokia, and Droid, to the applications and security protocols that are installed on them—to determine how secure one can really be on a mobile phone. The purpose of the effort was to assess the dangers of using mobile phones in countries where privacy rights are not respected, and where the rule of law and due process are faulty or nonexistent. Mobile phones, rather than internet-enabled computers, are often the communications method of choice in these countries, which makes them a top priority for government surveillance. The findings of the study were quite worrying.

In this two-part interview, Nancy Okail, the director of Freedom House’s Egypt office, discusses the state of Egypt’s transition to democracy in the wake of parliamentary and presidential elections earlier this year.

In this two-part interview, Nancy Okail, the director of Freedom House’s Egypt office, discusses the state of Egypt’s transition to democracy in the wake of parliamentary and presidential elections earlier this year.

A few months ago, Freedom at Issue published a post entitled “The Great China Exception.” The article pointed out that China had succeeded in evading serious and comprehensive condemnation for acts of repression that, if committed by other governments, would provoke global opprobrium. It noted, “The separate category that China has carved out for itself goes beyond the usual double standard that has historically been applied to “progressive” dictatorships—to Cuba, or Nicaragua under the Sandinistas, for example. Instead there is a kind of stand-alone China Exception, under which repression and autocracy are quietly acknowledged but actual objections are seldom voiced.

 

By: S. Adam Cardais, Guest Blogger

On July 25, 2011, Kosovo police deployed north from Pristina and over the Ibar River to commandeer two checkpoints at the Serbian border in connection with a customs dispute with Belgrade. But the dispute was just a pretext. Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi of Kosovo was after much more: authority over the northern, Serb-majority portion of his country, where Pristina has had little control since the end of the 1998–99 conflict.

Photo: Eritrean president Isaias Afwerki

The depraved slaughter of civilians in Syria, which began with sniper fire on peaceful demonstrators and later degenerated into bombings of residential areas and execution-style killings of women and children, masks a darker truth.  While the violence of the current crackdown distinguishes Syria today, it emerges from decades of brutal dictatorship, and equally brutal dictatorships are alive and well across the globe.  They tend to get noticed only when particularly gross abuses take place or they escape attention almost entirely.  For close to one-fourth of the world’s population, intense repression has become routine.

With a constitutional referendum and subsequent national elections drawing near, Zimbabwe is poised to enter an exciting and highly uncertain period. However, if left in the hands of the current political elites, the creation of a democratic Zimbabwe remains unlikely at best.

Freedom House interviews Farai Maguwu, director of Zimbabwe's Center for Research and Development (CRD), about the diamond industry in Zimbabwe. 

At a recent conference on modern monarchy in London, Princeton University professor David Cannadine observed that monarchy “has not been a growth industry” over the last century, and that most of the monarchies that have disappeared were authoritarian in nature. Data from Freedom in the World support this notion, which should serve as both a warning and a spur to democratic reform for the few authoritarian monarchies that remain, especially in the Middle East. But the transition to democracy need not be a matter of mere survival: monarchies already in the democratic camp seem to excel, scoring disproportionately well among the world’s free countries.

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