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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom and democracy around the world. Freedom House analyze the challenges to freedom, advocate for greater political rights and civil liberties, and support frontline activists to defend human rights and promote democratic change. Founded in 1941, Freedom House was the first American organization to champion the advancement of freedom globally.
Countries at the Crossroads is an annual analysis of government performance in 70 strategically important countries worldwide that are at a critical crossroads in determining their political future. The in-depth comparative assessments and quantitative ratings – examining government accountability, civil liberties, rule of law, and anticorruption and transparency efforts – are intended to help international policymakers identify areas of progress, as well as to highlight areas of concern that could be addressed in diplomatic efforts and reform assistance.The Crossroads project has generated far-reaching interest since its inception in 2004. Increased attention to the relationship between competent governance and respect for civil and political rights means that scholars and policymakers require sophisticated tools to help place the performance of various governments in perspective. Crossroads helps ground this analysis by providing indispensable quantitative assessment that allows for comparison over time, as well as detailed narrative reports that provide real-world context.A new edition of Crossroads is published each year, with half the set of countries analyzed in odd years and the other half in even years. Crossroads reports are written and evaluated by some of the most prominent independent experts available for each country.
Freedom in the World is Freedom House’s flagship annual report, assessing the condition of political rights and civil liberties around the world. It is composed of numerical ratings and supporting descriptive texts for many countries. Freedom in the World has been published since 1973, allowing Freedom House to track global trends in freedom over more than 40 years. It has become the most widely read and cited report of its kind, used on a regular basis by policymakers, journalists, academics, activists, and many others.
Note: The ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 representing the highest level of democratic progress and 7 the lowest.
Nations in Transit is Freedom House’s research project on democracy in the 29 formerly communist countries from Central Europe to Central Asia. The flagship of the project is an annual survey of democratic reform that has been published since 1995, and with the same methodology since 2003. Nations in Transit also publishes briefs on topics relevant to democratic reform in the region.
The Nations in Transit annual report researchers score the countries on a scale of 1 to 7 in seven categories:National Democratic Governance. Considers the democratic character and stability of the governmental system; the independence, effectiveness, and accountability of legislative and executive branches; and the democratic oversight of military and security services. Electoral Process. Examines national executive and legislative elections, electoral processes, the development of multiparty systems, and popular participation in the political process.Civil Society. Assesses the growth of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), their organizational capacity and financial sustainability, and the legal and political environment in which they function; the development of free trade unions; and interest group participation in the policy process. Independent Media. Addresses the current state of press freedom, including libel laws, harassment of journalists, and editorial independence; the emergence of a financially viable private press; and internet access for private citizens. Local Democratic Governance. Considers the decentralization of power; the responsibilities, election, and capacity of local governmental bodies; and the transparency and accountability of local authorities. Judicial Framework and Independence. Highlights constitutional reform, human rights protections, criminal code reform, judicial independence, the status of ethnic minority rights, guarantees of equality before the law, treatment of suspects and prisoners, and compliance with judicial decisions. Corruption. Looks at public perceptions of corruption, the business interests of top policymakers, laws on financial disclosure and conflict of interest, and the efficacy of anticorruption initiatives.
These category scores are straight-averaged to create a country’s “Democracy Score” on a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 being the most democratic, and 7 the least.
Freedom House contracts independent researchers from academia, journalism, and civil society for each country to draft the country reports and make the initial scoring. These draft country reports and score proposals are sent to between three and six reviewers per country per year for comments. After researchers have a chance to respond to the comments, Nations in Transit and its advisors meet to finalize scores for each country. Where possible, scores reflect the consensus of researchers, reviewers, advisors, and Freedom House, but Freedom House has the final vote on all score changes.
The annual report is currently funded through a grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). USAID has no say in the methodology or conclusions of the report.