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.
Côte d’Ivoire was once a promising model of economic prosperity and stability for West Africa, but in the last decade alone it has fallen prey to two civil wars, untold human misery, and large-scale impunity for perpetrators of human rights violations. The complex problems currently besetting the country are linked to the failure of its leaders to both commit to and successfully foster genuine democratic principles and practices.
Senior Director for Program Strategy, Development and Learning
February 3, 2012
The progress that sub-Saharan Africa has achieved in building democracy over the past generation is coming undone. After two decades of significant gains, the continent has experienced a steady decline in democracy over the last several years.
A majority of Americans see democracy in the U.S. as weak and getting weaker, according to a national survey released by The Democracy Project, a joint initiative of Freedom House, the George W. Bush Institute, and the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement.
Sudan, North Korea and Uzbekistan are prominent among the most repressive regimes in the world, according to a report released by Freedom House. The study, “The Worst of the Worst: The World's Most Repressive Societies 2007,” named seventeen countries with the worst records for political rights and civil liberties, and pointed to thirteen countries which have been on the list for five years or more.
Freedom House released an analysis of democracy in sub-Saharan Africa showing that the region has experienced notable increases in freedom over the past generation, although more setbacks than gains were seen in 2006.
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