Report: Global Freedoms Declined – Once More – in 2023

Credits: Axios

For the 18th consecutive year, global freedom experienced a decline in 2023, according to a report released by Freedom House, an organization advocating for civil liberties, democracy, and political rights. The study revealed that freedoms diminished in 52 countries, with only 21 nations showing improvements.

This marks a significant setback compared to the previous year when the “Freedom in the World” report highlighted deteriorations in 35 countries and improvements in 34.

Freedom House assessed 195 countries and 15 territories for its 51st annual assessment, assigning scores of 0-4 for 25 political rights and civil liberties indicators.

Countries were categorized as “free,” “partly free,” or “not free.” In 2023, nearly 38% of the world’s population lived in “not free” countries, while only 20% resided in “free” ones.

Statistics Showing Decline of Global Freedoms (Credits: Statista)

Some positive highlights included Finland receiving a perfect score of 100, with other countries like Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, Norway, and Sweden following closely.

The United States scored 83, tying with Croatia, Panama, Romania, and South Korea. Generally, nations with the highest scores were in Europe, the Americas, and Asia.

The report highlighted improvements, with Fiji experiencing the most significant increase of 7 points, and Thailand moving from “not free” to “partly free” while gaining 6 points. Other countries showing score increases were Nepal (+4), Liberia (+4), Mauritania (+3), and the Maldives (+3).

However, declines in freedom were noted in various regions. Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory in Azerbaijan, suffered a substantial 40-point drop – the only negative total score in the report. Ecuador also downgraded from “free” to “partly free” with a 3-point decrease.

Other notable declines occurred in Niger (-18), Tunisia (-5), Peru (-4), and Sudan (-4), with many low-scoring nations situated in Africa, Eurasia, and the Middle East. Tibet, facing oppression from China, received a score of 0.

For 2024, Freedom House recommends protecting free and fair elections, emphasizing that at least 40 countries, encompassing billions of people, will hold national elections.

The organization also underscores the importance of upholding the rights of individuals in disputed territories, noting instances where democratically elected governments, like those of Israel and India, have been complicit in rights violations.

Michael J. Abramowitz, president of Freedom House, expressed concern over the global regression in freedom in 2023. He emphasized the crucial test in 2024 as numerous armed conflicts persist and billions of people head to the polls.

Abramowitz urged democracies to respond to these challenges, as failure to do so could lead to more of the global population being denied fundamental liberties, impacting peace, prosperity, security, and freedom.

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