NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 13, 2010

For the fourth consecutive year, global declines in freedom outweighed gains in 2009, as measured by Freedom House's annual survey of political rights and civil liberties, "Freedom in the World 2010."  This represents the longest continuous period of decline for global freedom in the nearly 40-year history of the report.

  • Declines for freedom were registered in 40 countries in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and the former Soviet Union, representing 20 percent of the world's total polities.
  • Authoritarian states including Iran, Russia, Venezuela and Vietnam became more repressive.
  • Declines in freedom also occurred in countries that had registered positive trends in previous years, including Bahrain, Jordan, Kenya and Kyrgyzstan.
  • To make matters worse, the most powerful authoritarian regimes have become more repressive, more influential in the international arena and more uncompromising.

Freedom in the World examines the ability of individuals to exercise their political and civil rights in 194 countries and 14 territories around the world.  The survey analyzes developments that occurred in 2009 and assigns each country a freedom status -- Free, Partly Free, or Not Free -- based on a scoring of performance on key indicators, says the Botswana Gazette.

Key global findings:

  • The number of countries designated by Freedom in the World as Free in 2009 stands at 89, representing 46 percent of the world's 194 countries and 46 percent of the world population.
  • The number of Partly Free countries declined to 58, or 30 percent of all countries assessed by the survey, comprising 20 percent of the world's total population.
  • The number of countries deemed to be Not Free increased to 47, or 24 percent of the total number of countries.
  • Over 2.3 billion people live in societies where fundamental political rights and civil liberties are not respected. China accounts for half of this number.

With regards to Western Europe and North America:

  • A notable challenge faced by the Obama administration in the United States has been balancing security concerns with the promised rollback of controversial antiterrorism policies dating to the Bush administration.
  • Western Europe has struggled to deal with the influx of immigrants from Muslim countries and the rise of anti-immigration policies, which contributed to declines in Switzerland and Malta.

Source: Editor, "Freedom in the World 2010: Global Erosion of Freedom," Botswana Gazette, January 109, 2010.


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