Civil society is increasingly under assault around the world, as authoritarian governments intensify their suppression of independent groups that monitor elections, expose corruption, or otherwise give citizens a voice in how they are governed. Respect for freedom of association globally, according to Freedom in the World, has fallen to its lowest level in 11 years.
Freedom House over the past several years has tracked the decline in freedom of association, spoken out against restrictions on civil society, supported local initiatives to defend civil society’s space, and provided emergency assistance to civil society organizations that come under threat. Highlights of our work include:
- Through Freedom in the World and extensive commentary including op-eds and congressional testimony, Freedom House has shown how far space for civil society has closed, exposed the methods used by authoritarian governments to stifle independent groups, sharply criticized new restrictions that authoritarian governments introduced, and made recommendations to U.S. and European policymakers on steps they could take to defend civil society.
- Freedom House assists civil society organizations in carrying on their work despite government obstructions and in pushing back on restrictive laws. In Kenya, for example, we supported a coordinated campaign by local advocacy groups that persuaded the government to retract its proposed legislation to severely limit foreign funding for civil society organizations.
- Freedom House leads the Lifeline consortium to support embattled civil society organizations worldwide. Lifeline funds emergency assistance to groups that come under threat, such as medical care for injured staff, legal defense against spurious charges, office security, or relocation of at-risk staff. Since 2011, Lifeline has supported over 430 organizations in 80 countries.