Freedom in the World 2006

Freedom House has just published their Freedom in the World 2006 (see the map of freedom), which provides their rating and analysis of the freedom of each state and territory in the world for mid-2005. Also, Freedom House has published a special report, Worst of the Worst: The World's Most Repressive Societies 2006, which I live in one of them.

There has been progress. The number of electoral democracies has increased to 123, and of them, liberal democracies to 89.

The following is from the overview by Arch Puddington followed by the list of the worst of the worst:

In a year in which the state of world freedom showed striking improvement in major countries from Ukraine to Indonesia, several places in the Arab Middle East saw modest but notable increases in political rights and civil liberties—even though none there yet approach the status of a free society. Although the region continues to suffer from a marked deficit of freedom, this progress was the most significant development cited by Freedom in the World 2006, Freedom House's annual survey of freedom worldwide. Furthermore, the positive trend in the Middle East was accompanied by gains in several majority Muslim countries in Asia and in sub-Saharan Africa.

In another significant development, the number of countries rated by Freedom House as Not Free declined from 49 in 2004 to 45 for the year 2005, the lowest number of Not Free societies identified by the survey in more than a decade.

Freedom showed improvement in the former Soviet Union, a region, like the Middle East, that has been resistant to the wave of democratization that brought positive change to much of the rest of the former communist world. In all, five countries that were once part of the Soviet Union recorded gains, the most significant being Ukraine's improvement from the status of Partly Free to Free. Ukraine thus becomes the first non-Baltic country of the former Soviet Union to attain a rating of Free, even while another important former Soviet republic, Uzbekistan, declined to the lowest possible score in the survey's methodology.

The survey shows that eight countries and one territory registered an increase in their freedom status. Along with Ukraine, Indonesia and Trinidad and Tobago moved to a Free status. Five countries and one territory moved from Not Free to Partly Free: Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Mauritania, and the Palestinian Authority.

At the same time, four countries registered negative status changes. Three countries declined from Free to Partly Free: Guyana, the Philippines, and Thailand. One country, Nepal, moved from Partly Free to Not Free.

To be sure, gains for freedom were not consistent across regions. There were approximately the same number of gains and losses in both Latin America and Asia, and slightly more gains than losses in sub-Saharan Africa.

Yet the overall picture was distinctly positive. As a result of these developments, it the end of 2005, there were 89 Free countries, in which there is broad scope for open political competition, a climate of respect for civil liberties, significant independent civic life, and independent media. This represents 46 percent of the world's 192 countries and 2.969 billion people—45.97 percent of the global population. The number of Free countries did not change from Freedom in the World ratings for the year 2004. There were 58 Partly Free countries (30 percent of the total), in which there is limited respect for political rights and civil liberties: an increase of four from the previous year. These states frequently suffer from an environment of corruption, weak rule of law, ethnic and religious strife, and often a setting in which a single political party enjoys dominance despite the façade of limited pluralism. Approximately 17.93 percent of the world's population, 1.158 billion persons, lived in such Partly Free societies. There were 2.331 billion people (36.10 percent of the global population) living in 45 Not Free countries (24 percent), where basic political rights are absent and fundamental civil liberties were widely and systematically denied: four fewer than the previous year.

The global picture thus suggests that 2005 was one of the most successful years for freedom since Freedom House began measuring world freedom in 1972. Not since 1992, the year following the collapse of the Soviet Union, has the percentage of Not Free countries been as low as in 2005. That year, 38 countries were assessed as Not Free: 21 percent of the global total.

This year saw an increase from 119 to 123 in the number of countries categorized as electoral democracies. This represented 64 percent of the world's countries—the highest number in the survey's 33-year history. The three additions were all from sub-Saharan Africa: Burundi, Central Africa Republic, and Liberia. While some electoral democracies had poor human rights records and weak democratic institutions, such states afforded considerable space for political opposition movements, provided opposition parties access to the media to express their viewpoints, and met the minimum standard of a fair vote count in conditions of ballot secrecy and relatively open election campaigning.

In addition to the countries that registered a status improvement in 2005, 19 countries showed gains in freedom that, while significant, did not produce a change in their overall freedom designation: Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Colombia, Georgia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Iraq, Israel, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Namibia, Romania, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

Meanwhile, six counties experienced a decline that likewise did not merit a status change: Congo (Brazzaville), Gabon, Gambia, Suriname, Uzbekistan, and Venezuela.

The Global Trend
Successive figures
are for Year, Free, Partly Free, Not Free

1975 40 53 65
1985 56 56 55
1995 76 62 53
2005 89 58 45

Tracking Electoral Democracy
Year, Number of Electoral Democracies

1995 117
2000 120
2005 123


Worst of the Worst: The World's Most Repressive Societies 2006

Freedom House, Special Report

A special report detailing the world's most repressive societies, drawn from Freedom in the World 2006, Freedom House's annual global survey on political rights and civil liberties.

September 6, 2006



Table of Independent Countries

Table of Related and Disputed Territories



Chechnya (Russia)



Equatorial Guinea





North Korea

Saudi Arabia




Tibet (China)



Western Sahara (Morocco)



Some related posts:

- Freedom in the World 2005, Global Survey 2006: Middle East Progress Amid Global Gains in Freedom.

- Human Rights in the Middle East 2005

- The Realities of Promoting Democracy


Nassim Yaziji's Neo-Internationalism

Nassim Yaziji's perspective