Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports the expansion of freedom around the world. Freedom House supports democratic change, monitors freedom, and advocates for democracy and human rights.
Since its founding in 1941 by prominent Americans concerned with the mounting threats to peace and democracy, Freedom House has been a vigorous proponent of democratic values and a steadfast opponent of dictatorships of the far left and the far right. Eleanor Roosevelt and Wendell Willkie served as Freedom House’s first honorary co-chairpersons.
Throughout its history, Freedom House has opposed tyranny around the world, including dictatorships in Latin America, apartheid in South Africa, Soviet domination of Central and Eastern Europe, and religiously-based totalitarian regimes such as those governing Sudan, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Freedom House has promoted the growth of freedom by encouraging U.S. policymakers, international institutions, and the governments of established democracies to adopt policies that advance human rights and democracy around the world. At the same time, Freedom House provides support to individuals working in the world's young democracies to overcome debilitating legacies of tyranny, dictatorship and political repression; as well as to activists working in repressive societies to bring about greater freedom and openness.
Freedom House translates the intangible values of freedom into a strong tangible impact by combining analysis, advocacy and action.
Through its standard-setting publications, Freedom House calls attention to global trends in freedom and democracy, and shines a public light on dictatorship and abuse. Beginning with Freedom in the World in 1972, Freedom House has actively published comparative surveys and special reports focused on the state of democracy and human rights around the world.
Freedom House's annual publications include:
-Freedom in the World, an assessment of the state of political rights in 192 countries and 14 related and disputed territories;
-Freedom of the Press, an annual report on journalistic independence around the world;
-Nations in Transit, which examines 29 countries from Central Europe to Eurasia; and Countries at the Crossroads, a first-of-its-kind survey of democratic governance that evaluates performance in 30 key countries that are at a crossroads in determining their political future.
In addition, Freedom House produces a number of special reports focusing on issues of import. Freedom House's publications are widely used by policy-makers, journalists, and scholars, and can be read for free on this website.
Since its founding, Freedom House has been a clear voice for freedom both at home and abroad. The heart of Freedom House's message is that those who enjoy the benefits of freedom should help others throughout the world attain or defend their own freedom. Freedom House advocacy seeks to further its mission by encouraging U.S. policymakers, as well as other governments and international institutions, to adopt policies that advance human rights and democracy around the world.
The following are Freedom House’s advocacy priorities:
Freedom of Expression
Since 2004, Freedom House’s research (Freedom of the Press, Freedom in the World) has pointed to worrisome declines in freedom of expression in countries around the world. This basic human right is frequently restricted through tactics that include censorship; restrictive press legislation; and harassment of journalists, bloggers and others who voice their opinions; as well as crackdowns on religious minorities and other restraints on religious freedom. In response to this, Freedom house is engaging in a multi-faceted advocacy campaign to defend this fundamental right.
Freedom of Association
Freedom of Association is one of the core fundamental freedoms protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Increasingly, civil society actors in many countries around the world are denied their right to form associations due to government restrictions that make it difficult for organizations to register, communicate with one another, obtain funding—particularly foreign funding—and engage in types of activities that are deemed politically threatening, such as human rights monitoring or government oversight. Freedom House advocates for the removal of barriers to freedom of association and greater inclusion for civil society in regional and international organizations.
U.S. Democracy and Human Rights Promotion
Supporting freedom around the world necessarily includes a scrutiny of the promotion of human rights and democracy by the United States, both at home and abroad. Freedom House speaks out when American governance practices fall short of international standards and urges the U.S. government to remain a leader in promoting democracy by example, as well as through the implementation of consistent and well-planned policies and programs.
Human rights defenders from 23 countries meet with President Obama to discuss US democracy and human rights promotion during the 2010 Washington Human Rights Summit in February 2010.
The United Nations Human Rights Council
Freedom House consistently advocates for a strong and effective UN Human Rights Council that lives up to its mandate to strengthen and protect human rights throughout the world. The Council is the world’s only global body dedicated to promoting and protecting human rights. Created in 2006 to replace the discredited UN Commission on Human Rights, the Council’s success is critical not only for advancing human rights, but also for the overall credibility and effectiveness of the UN as a body.
Regional Human Rights Bodies
Human right bodies within regional organizations such as the Council of Europe, the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) are important mechanisms through which human rights defenders can call attention to the specific problems of human rights in different regions of the world, and take adequate measures to address them. Following their lead, other regional organizations including the African Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have added a human rights mandate as well. Freedom House actively engages with several of these bodies by monitoring their activities as well as training journalists and civil society on how to engage with them and advocating for greater civil society participation within them.
Although the proportion of people around the world living in free societies has increased with time, there are still many countries where citizens have few political and personal freedoms. Freedom House focuses on these toughest cases, as well as those repressive countries with global influence, such as Russia, China, Iran, and Egypt, that may be promoting undemocratic norms outside their own borders.
Freedom House is engaged in the process of democratic change in parts of the world where freedom is under duress or is yet to be consolidated: Central Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, the former Soviet Union, and the Balkans. Working directly with democratic reformers on the front lines in their own countries, Freedom House acts as a catalyst for freedom by strengthening civil society, promoting open government, defending human rights, and facilitating the free flow of information and ideas.
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