World Freedom: Growing but Fragile

The World and I, May 1997 | Go to article overview

World Freedom: Growing but Fragile


As 1997 began, more people were living in democratic societies than at any time in history.

Yet in one-third of the world's democratic countries, a weak rule of law, corruption, ethnic conflict, and other internal pressures continued to erode basic civil-liberties protections. Moreover, fundamental freedoms are denied in more than one-fourth of all countries.

Most analysts believe that the United States has both humanitarian and practical interests in (1) promoting freedom in nations that are still under authoritarian rule, and (2) consolidating democratic gains in transitional countries.

The nurturing of societies that protect basic rights and liberties is important both for humanitarianism's sake and for advancing America's economic and security interests by creating better trading partners and more reliable allies.

Today nearly all governments, political leaders, and opposition movements profess respect for democratic norms. But this rhetoric often cynically manipulates and debases the concept of democracy for political ends.

Therefore, a comparative analysis that assesses the status of real-world political rights and civil liberties in every country and territory throughout the world according to a single, universal standard is required.

Freedom House puts out such an analysis in the form of its annual Freedom in the World comparative survey. By assessing every country and territory, the study, issued since 1971, also underscores the universality of human rights--the idea that all people are inherently entitled to enjoy certain basic rights regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, cultural background, or economic or social class.

FREEDOM IN THE WORLD

The 1996-97 Freedom House survey rated 79 of the world's 191 countries as free, an increase of 3 from 1995 and the highest number ever.

Fifty-nine countries were rated partly free, typically because of significant limits on expression, religious practice, association, and other freedoms.

Fifty-three countries--comprising nearly 2.3 billion people (39.2 percent of the world's population)--live in "not free" countries, where repressive governments, severe civil conflict or insurgencies, or other extreme conditions deny their citizens most of the basic rights.

Of these "not free" countries, 17, with a combined population of 1.5 billion people, received the lowest rating for both political rights and civil liberties. Among them are Afghanistan, Bhutan, Burma, China, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Iraq, North Korea, and Sudan.

By the end of 1996, there were 118 formal democracies--an increase from 91 five years ago--with a combined population of nearly 3.2 billion people. In these countries, at a minimum citizens choose their authoritative leaders reasonably freely from among competing groups and individuals who were not chosen by the government. In 1996 Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Taiwan held generally free and fair elections and became the newest democracies.

But democracy in its most genuine form also includes a firm rule of law and a respect for basic rights. Thirty-nine democracies are among the "partly free" states, indicating that corruption, ethnic and civil conflict, restrictions on the independent media and opposition parties, drug trafficking, and violence and other abuses against women, children, and ethnic minorities are undermining civil-liberties protections and democratic institutions.

In 1996 Niger, where a military coup in January toppled an elected government, and Zambia, which experienced presidential balloting in November that was marred by irregularities, both dropped from the ranks of democratic states.

What accounts for the increase in the number of democracies and free societies? In countries in transition from authoritarian or communist regimes to democratic rule, or in long-standing democracies such as India where the rule of law is still weak, the strongest pressure for reform comes from indigenous non-governmental organizations (NGOs). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

World Freedom: Growing but Fragile
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.