NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 22, 2005

Countries around the world are making advancements in promoting civil, political and economic rights in their societies, according to the latest annual report from Freedom House. In fact, 2005 was the most successful year for progress since 1972, when the organization began tracking freedom around the world.

Freedom House reports that 27 countries and one territory have shown gains in freedom over the past year. Additionally:

  • Almost 3 billion people, or 46 percent of the world's population, live in countries with "open political competition, a climate of respect for civil liberties, significant independent civil life and independent media."
  • An additional 1.2 billion people are classified as "partly free," meaning that while they have some rights, they are affected by corruption and one-party rule.
  • The remaining 35 percent of the population (2.3 billion) are denied basic civil rights and liberties, with China accounting for half of this percentage.

However, China is slightly better than eight other countries deemed "hellholes" by Freedom House: North Korea, Cuba, Burma, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Freedom House is cautious about progress in Iraq and Afghanistan due to the fact that those countries still depend on outside military forces for their security, but last week's election turnout in Iraq was about 70 percent, indicating that citizens there are yearning for political rights.

Sources: George Melloan, "The Quest for Freedom Remains Unchecked," Wall Street Journal, December 20, 2005; and "Freedom in the World, 2005: the Annual Survey of Political Rights and Civil Liberties," Freedom House, July 2005.

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