“On January 12, Freedom House released the findings from the latest edition of Freedom in the World, the annual survey of global political rights and civil liberties. According to the survey’s findings, 2008 marked the third consecutive year in which global freedom suffered a decline. This setback was most pronounced in Sub-Saharan Africa and the non-Baltic former Soviet Union, although it affected most other regions of the world. Furthermore, the decline in freedom coincided with the onset of a forceful reaction against democracy by a number of powerful authoritarian regimes, including Russia and China.”
The assessment stood that 89 countries out of 193 analyzed for the report met sufficient objective criteria to warrant the status of “free” societies. Such nations accounted for 3.055 billion people, or 46% of the global population. “Partly free” societies accounted for 62 nations, with 1.351 billion population—20% of humanity. Finally, 42 nations were “not free,” which accounted for a population of 2.276 billion, or 34% of global population. More than half of that population lives in China.
It rated 8 of the Not Free states as the “Worst of the Worst:” North Korea, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, Libya, Sudan, Burma, Equatorial Guinea, and Somalia. Two additional territories, part of larger states, were also worst-rated as a special consideration: Tibet and Chechnya.
There were also a basketful of nations and territories that, while not “Worst of the Worst” deserved their own special standing for excessive repressions: Belarus, Chad, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Laos, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Zimbabwe, South Ossetia, and Western Sahara.
This is one of the most striking of observations highlighted in this year’s Executive Summary (entitled Freedom in the World 2009: Setbacks and Resilience):
“Increasingly, it is nongovernmental organizations and democracy advocates that constitute the most effective societal forces for reform in authoritarian states.”Perhaps a place in the world exists for the engendering and fruition of Global Understanding after all!