2018 Annual Report

From the President

Carl Gershman

In recent years, the NED and other organizations working to advance democracy have been challenged by what is commonly called a democratic recession. The term refers to a global crisis of democracy that has a number of different dimensions: the rising power of authoritarian countries such as China and Russia, the backsliding of many new democracies like Hungary and the Philippines, the closing space for independent civic organizations, and a crisis of pluralism in many long established Western democracies. According to Freedom House, civil and political rights in the world have declined for twelve consecutive years.

While these trends continued during 2018, democratic observers also witnessed a surprising and potentially significant counter-trend consisting of popular uprisings against corrupt and abusive autocratic regimes. These uprisings took place in Ethiopia, Armenia, Malaysia, and other countries, and they appear to be part of a larger movement, with one study noting that there have been corruption-driven leadership changes in more than 10 percent of the world’s governments over the past five years.

Yet these revolts, frequent as they have been, will have no lasting political significance – and will do little to reverse the democratic recession – unless they lead to real reforms that respond to the needs and aspirations of the people. For that to happen, new democratic institutions will have to be developed that will enable citizens to hold political leaders and economic elites accountable, foster economic growth and opportunity, protect the rights of ordinary people, and enable society to resolve ethnic and other divisions in a peaceful way. NED has no higher priority than to help these countries build such institutions so that they can become inclusive and stable democracies.

NED was in a position to respond rapidly to the changing circumstances in Ethiopia, Armenia, and Malaysia because it was already engaged in these countries by supporting human rights activists, lawyers, journalists and others fighting for an end to autocratic rule. Supporting democracy activists in authoritarian countries who are fighting for basic rights is part of NED’s core mission. It has the practical advantage of positioning NED to act quickly and with known partners when a country unexpectedly opens up and a democratic transition suddenly becomes possible.

The Ethiopian transition is particularly noteworthy as it involves a country of 105 million people with more than 80 different ethnic groups. In a world divided by ethnic and religious conflicts, Ethiopia’s example will resonate far beyond the country’s borders if it can succeed in building an inclusive, multi-ethnic democracy. It faces formidable challenges, including an economic crisis fueled by high levels of inflation, foreign debt and rising ethnic tensions. Over 1.4 million people have been forced to flee their homes.

Such problems have added urgency to NED grants that are promoting legal reform and ethnic dialogue, building the capacity of journalists and civil society activists, engaging youth in the political process, connecting party leaders in the capital of Addis Ababa to citizens throughout the country, fostering a public-private dialogue between the government and the private sector, and tapping the potential of the multi-ethnic labor movement to advance pluralism and economic inclusion.

Nothing better illustrates the potential for change in Ethiopia than the fact that Birtukan Mideksa, an admired judge and opposition leader who came to NED in 2010 as an emergency Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow after spending almost four years in prison, has just returned home to head the country’s National Electoral Board. The challenges ahead are indeed difficult, but Ethiopia is on the right path forward.

So is Armenia, which was selected by The Economist magazine as the Country of the Year in 2018, meaning that it has improved more in the past 12 months than any other country. NED’s many grantees in Armenia were in the forefront of the “Velvet Revolution” last spring that swept from office a corrupt and autocratic president who wanted to manipulate the constitution to retain power. In subsequent elections held in December, the party alliance of the new Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan won 70 percent of the vote, setting the stage for building accountable and effective government ministries, reforming the judicial system, and strengthening the media as a critical watchdog over government performance.  Many reform-oriented but inexperienced people are now entering parliament and the government ministries, and they will need the assistance and expertise of NGOs and think tanks if they are to develop effective policies. Civil society organizations also will need help in revamping their strategies to address the new challenges. Supporting such groups will be a key NED priority in the period ahead.

In Malaysia, the change came about as the result of an electoral revolution that ousted a kleptocratic prime minister and his entrenched ruling party. Just a year earlier, NED had presented its Democracy Award to Cynthia Gabriel, a grantee who was a leader of the anti-corruption movement in Malaysia.  Immediately following the election, she was appointed to a high-level committee tasked with investigating the massive 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) embezzlement scandal that had sparked public outrage. NED grants are now strengthening the capacity of civic organizations to hold the new government accountable as well as providing public officials with the skills they will need to govern effectively.

The election in Malaysia on May 9 coincided with the conclusion of the Ninth Assembly of the World Movement for Democracy (WMD), held in Dakar, Senegal. To highlight the importance of the transition underway in Malaysia, the Steering Committee of the WMD has decided to hold its next meeting in Kuala Lumpur in conjunction with a public conference of democratic solidarity that will also commemorate the WMD’s twentieth anniversary.

The Dakar Assembly also coincided with the local elections in Tunisia that Rached Ghannouchi, in his keynote address to the assembly, called “a landmark moment in Tunisia’s history and the realization of the promise of the Arab Spring.” Since the elections prevented Ghannouchi from attending the assembly, the address was read by his adviser Radwan Masmoudi, who is a member of the World Movement’s Steering Committee. In another gesture of solidarity, the Steering Committee decided that Tunisia would be the venue for its Tenth Global Assembly in 2020.

In Tunisia, yet another corrupt dictatorship was overthrown by a popular uprising. The transition that has followed the 2011 Jasmine Revolution still faces formidable challenges, but it is progressing, and Tunisia holds the distinction of being the Arab World’s first democracy. If Tunisia continues to progress, and if its transition is accompanied by similar transitions in Ethiopia, Armenia, Malaysia, and other post-kleptocracy countries, we may begin to see the end of the democratic recession.

NED and its four party, labor, and business core institutes face a moment of unusual opportunity. With dedicated and brave partners on the ground in each of the transitional countries, we are positioned to provide practical assistance across a broad range of political, social, and economic institutions. With more than three decades of experience behind us, and with access to the most skilled practitioners and thinkers on democracy, we can feel confident that the help we give will meet the highest standards of professionalism and proficiency. We have the capacity to help by building local, national, and international networks of cooperation; giving activists the resources needed to construct platforms for communicating their messages; and convening actions of international solidarity to reassure those on the frontlines of struggle that they are not alone. We can do this as a family of democracy-support institutions united by shared values and a common vision of democratic possibility and human dignity.

The work will nonetheless be difficult and the outcome uncertain – but the opportunity for real democratic progress now exists, and the stakes are very high. It is now our task to rise to the occasion.

Cover image: NED President Carl Gershman speaks at a 2018 event.

Annual Report front cover image: Representatives from NED’s grantee, the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, displaying a memory quilt honoring disappeared citizens in Western Nepal.

Year In Review

The National Endowment for Democracy’s (NED) grant-making was stronger than ever in 2018, funding 1,631 projects in 94 countries. The Endowment complemented this robust program with an exciting array of events and activities that leveraged and enhanced the work of NED grantees. Through public events, publications, fellowships, and networking opportunities, NED made the most of its resources to advance democracy on multiple fronts.

Highlights of the year included the annual Democracy Awards honoring the Movement for Human Rights and Freedom in North Korea, the ninth global assembly of the World Movement for Democracy in Dakar, Senegal, the presentation of the Democracy Service Medal to Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev, and the 2108 Lipset Lecture delivered by Malaysia’s Anwar Ibrahim.

NED’s International Forum for Democratic Studies provided incisive research and analysis on the many questions and challenges of democratic development and progress through the publication of the quarterly Journal of Democracy, independent research papers and books, and a wide range of colloquia bringing together experts and activists to explore critical democratic issues. The Forum welcomed activists, journalists, and scholars from around the world as Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows, who spend five months at NED conducting independent research and outreach on democratic issues and prospects worldwide. Learn more about the International Forum’s work in 2018.

NED’s Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) continued to provide thought leadership to strengthen media systems and bolster the essential role that they play in sustaining democracy. CIMA provides knowledge and a platform for discussion needed to improve the effectiveness of support for media development. The Center conducts policy-relevant research on the major issues affecting global media today – in markets, politics, and society – and convenes donors, implementers, academics, journalists, and other stakeholders in the media development community to help them act and collaborate strategically. Learn more about CIMA’s work in 2018.

NED’s Penn Kemble Democracy Forum connected dozens of rising foreign policy professionals with the work of NED and an provided an opportunity for bipartisan conversation with a broad range of experts and activists on the role of democracy and human rights within the context of a broad range of policy questions. Learn more about the Penn Kemble Forum’s 2018 class.

On June 13, NED used the presentation of its annual Democracy Award to recognize the Movement for Human Rights and Freedom in North Korea, honoring four Korean organizations working to document human rights abuses, empower defectors, and ensure the free flow of information in North Korea. The honorees were The Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights (represented by Bum-Jin Park and Sungju Lee); NAUH – Now, Action & Unity for Human Rights (represented by Seong-ho Ji and Shi-Woo Choi); The Transitional Justice Working Group (represented by Hubert Youngwhan Lee and Sehyek Oh); and the Unification Media Group (Represented by Kwang Baek Lee and Sang Yong Lee).

The four honorees were recognized at a Capitol Hill featuring remarks by Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ed Royce (R-CA), and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. Members of Congress Michael McCaul (R-TX), Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), and Peter Roskam (R-IL) presented the awards and NED Chairman Andrew H. Card, Jr. presided.

NED President Carl Gershman commented on the impact of the honorees’ work saying, “Twenty years ago, NED made its first small grants to groups working to pry open one of the most repressive and closed societies on earth – North Korea. That work has grown and multiplied, becoming a powerful movement that dramatically changed what the world knows and understands about life inside North Korea, and what North Koreans know about the world beyond their borders. These innovative and courageous activists give the world hope that human dignity and freedom will someday be restored to the entire Korean peninsula.”

Exploring the struggle for freedom in North Korea further, NED hosted a June 13 conference entitled “Beyond Pyongyang: Connecting with the People of North Korea.” The event featured opening remarks by U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback  and U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Asia Subcommittee. Two panels featured expert analysis about recent developments with North Korea and the implications for the country’s human rights situation. The first panel included former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Mark LippertJung Pak of the Brookings Instutition, Mike Green of CSIS and Georgetown University, and moderator Roberta Cohen of the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea. A second panel moderated byWashington Post columnist Josh Rogin  featured a conversation with the four honorees about their work to engage directly with the people of North Korea, what that work has yielded, and its potential to continue changing North Korea from within. Among the panelists were honorees Seong-ho Ji, who was praised by President Donald Trump in his 2018 State of the Union address, Sungju Lee of Citizens’ Alliance, Kwang Baek Lee of UMG, and Hubert Younghwan Lee of TJWG.

NED awarded the Democracy Service Medal to the revered Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev in recognition of his lifelong struggle to defend the rights of the Crimean Tatars.  NED president Carl Gershman presented the medal at an event on May 24, 2018 at NED’s Washington DC headquarters.

Dzhemilev, a renowned human rights activist and Soviet dissident, campaigned for the right of return of the Crimean Tatars following their deportation under Stalin. As a result, he spent 15 years in prison camps in the USSR and undertook what remains the longest hunger strike on record – 300 days. Since 2014, Dzhemilev has served as Commissioner of the President of Ukraine for the Affairs of Crimean Tatars.

“I believe that this medal belongs to the entire Crimean Tatar nation, a nation which is very courageous and brave, which managed for decades to resist such a strong superpower, and which now is also resisting this audacious, vile, cruel aggressor,” said Dzhemilev, referencing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. “Our country, our people, badly needs solidarity and support these days…Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

The World Movement for Democracy, a global network of democratic activists, practitioners, and scholars, convened its Ninth Global Assembly from May 6-9, 2018 in Dakar, Senegal under the theme, “Building Strategic Partnerships for Democratic Renewal.” More than 400 participants took part in dozens of featured discussions on how to enhance or defend different facets of democracy, from combating disinformation through digital innovation to encouraging broader dialogue through art activism. The Assembly was an important forum to both analyze and confront the major challenges to democracy around the world today, and to collaborate on strategies to overcome obstacles shared by activists, donors, government representatives, and other democrats.  Read about the discussions that took place in high-level plenary sessions and breakout workshops led by grassroots organizations, and watch highlights of the conversations in the World Movement’s interactive Ninth Assembly Report.

What lessons does Malaysia’s transition hold for confronting authoritarianism? This question was addressed by Anwar Ibrahim on February 11 when he delivered the fifteenth annual Seymour Martin Lipset Lecture on Democracy in the World at the Embassy of Canada in Washington, D.C. An edited version of Ibrahim’s address was published in the April 2018 issue of the Journal of Democracy.

The National Endowment of Democracy thanks its grantees and supporters all over the world for its support in 2018, and invites you to read on to learn more about our work during this eventful past year.

Cover image: Clement Voule and NED staff are shown at the World Movement’s Ninth Global Assembly in May 2018.

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2018 NED Democracy Award - Presented to The Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights (NKHR), Now Action & Unity for Human Rights (NAUH), the Transitional Justice Working Group (TJWG), and Unification Media Group (UMG)

2018 NED Democracy Award - Presented to The Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights (NKHR), Now Action & Unity for Human Rights (NAUH), the Transitional Justice Working Group (TJWG), and Unification Media Group (UMG)



Board of Directors


  • Chairman

    Andrew Card

  • Secretary

    Marilyn Carlson Nelson

  • Treasurer

    Robert Tuttle

  • Vice Chairman

    David Skaggs

  • President

    Carl Gershman


  • Anne Applebaum
  • Karen Bass
  • James Boland
  • William Burns
  • Marlene Colucci
  • Eileen Donahoe
  • Michele Dunne
  • Daniel Fried
  • Francis Fukuyama
  • Barry Jackson
  • Jayne Kurzman
  • Mel Martinez
  • Andrew Nathan
  • Victoria Nuland
  • Dayton Ogden
  • Fred Redmond
  • Peter Roskam
  • David Skaggs
  • Linda Thomas-Greenfield
  • Richard Verma
  • Melanne Verveer
  • George Weigel
  • Elliott Abrams


  • Dante Fascell (1917-1998)
  • John Richardson (1921-2014)
  • William Brock
  • Winston Lord
  • John Brademas (1927-2016)
  • Vin Weber
  • Richard Gephardt
  • Martin Frost
  • Judith Shelton


A Year in Review

Africa Regional Overview

The NED Africa program supported an array of democratic opportunities that emerged in 2018 – some long anticipated, and others that were a surprise – while simultaneously resisting instances of democratic backsliding, persistent authoritarianism, and human rights abuses.

A highlight of the year for the Africa program was the World Movement for Democracy’s international assembly held in Dakar, Senegal, in May. The event celebrated the steady progress of democracy in West Africa, despite the continuing challenges of insecurity, corruption, and underdevelopment.  The NED program provided ongoing support to the Gambia’s democratic breakthrough; CIPE held a major conference in Burkina Faso in January that brought together private sector, government, and civil society leaders from across West Africa; and NED partners endeavored to strengthen the elections held in Mali.

Meanwhile, another dramatic democratic breakthrough was occurring in the Horn of Africa that captured the eyes of the world. On April 2, 2018, Abiy Ahmed became prime minister of Ethiopia.  He rapidly initiated a series of reforms, including releasing political prisoners, revising repressive legislation, appointing an unprecedented number of women to key posts, welcoming the return of political dissidents, and opening up the media. After struggling for many years in the relatively closed Ethiopian political environment, NED’s 10 Ethiopian partners quickly pivoted to support these exciting reforms. Among them, the Debebe Hailegabriel Law Office led the effort to change the repressive Charities and Societies Proclamation; the Addis Standard provided critical independent news of events online; and the Solidarity Center strengthened the independence of the Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Unions.

Likewise, the departure of Eduardo dos Santos and the ascendance of Joao Laurenco as president of Angola has precipitated tentative reforms. Once-persecuted NED partners, such as MakaAngola and Maos Livres, found new freedom to fight corruption and promote human rights.

The fall of Robert Mugabe after 37 years as president of Zimbabwe led to elections on July 30, 2018 won by Emmerson Mnangagwa of ZANU-PF, the ruling party, who beat Nelson Chamisa of the Movement for Democratic Change party. NDI, IRI, CIPE and the Solidarity Center, as well as 15 local partners, all contributed to making these the best elections Zimbabwe has ever held – though violence during the announcement of results marred this historic moment. NED supported a southern African observer mission organized by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network and the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.

After a two-year delay, elections finally took place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in December 2018, though the outcome was disputed. President Joseph Kabila stepped down, and the Congolese electoral commission pronounced opposition leader Felix Tshesikedi to be the winner. Yet another opposition candidate, Martin Fayulu, appeared to be the true winner according credible domestic election observers, and Kabila’s political alliance managed to retain control over the parliament and most provincial governments. NED’s 35 Congolese partners nevertheless helped to ensure that an alternation of power did in fact occur, contributing to an informed citizenry and peaceful process throughout the country.

A precipitous decline in political, civil society, and media freedom in Tanzania motivated the NED Africa program to mount a new effort to protect that country’s democracy. Similarly, in Zambia, the unprecedented threat to the political space spurred NED to buttress key partners in their defense of the country’s long tradition of democratic rights.  NED expanded its program in Cameroon in the context of elections, growing insecurity, and conflict between Anglophone and Francophone regions of the country.

As the year closed, protests in Sudan served notice of the population’s impatience with 30 years of authoritarian rule. NED’s long-time support of women’s organizations, youth programs, legal aid, and conflict resolution has helped Sudan’s movement for peaceful, democratic change, setting the stage for yet another breakthrough.

Cover image: A jubilant crowd attends the first annual National Citizens’ Convention; Harare, Zimbabwe, 2018.

To learn more and to see a detailed list of our grantees, please visit the NED website.

2018 NED Grants in Africa

Kofi Annan addresses the first annual National Citizens' Convention in Harare, co-organized by the Magamba Network, a NED grantee.

In Focus: Zimbabwe

Though Zimbabwe’s new leader, Emmerson Mnangagwa, showed a willingness to continue in the ruthless footsteps of his predecessor Robert Mugabe, NED’s grantees in Zimbabwe are working tirelessly to organize and empower the electorate.

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Congo Peace Network organized this youth rally to advocate for election integrity in 2018.

In Focus: Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

During the historic presidential, legislative and provincial 2018 elections in the DRC, NED sought to empower grantee organizations’ work in voter mobilization and electoral conflict prevention; their capacity to monitor human rights and civil liberties throughout the electoral process; and the ability to promote freedom of information.

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A Year in Review

In 2018, the Endowment prioritized countries in Asia that faced the greatest democratic deficits and in which the NED was able to have the greatest impact. Building upon our strategy from previous years, the NED continued to concentrate on key countries within each sub-region that faced significant and systemic challenges to democratization – China, including Tibet, and North Korea in East Asia, Burma in Southeast Asia, and Pakistan in South Asia.  Democratic challenges in each of these countries were different, and the NED’s responses varied accordingly.

In China, the Endowment was one of few international organizations willing to work on democracy and human rights issues in the region, despite the new foreign NGO law that went into effect in 2017.

North Korea remained the most closed country in the world.  NED focused on programs that took indirect approaches to support human rights and bolster democratic values, including providing news and information through radio and digital media, strengthening understanding of human rights and democracy among North Koreans traveling outside of the country through training and other engagement, and empowering defectors to play a leading role in advancing North Korean human rights.

The priorities for NED’s Burma program were to address the structural, economic, cultural, religious, and political divisions that undermine national cohesiveness by supporting human rights, women’s rights, and ethnic nationality rights. Additionally, the program helped to enable civil society and a new cadre of leaders to develop and expand the level of civic engagement in the country by connecting civil society organizations, government institutions, and the Burmese people.

In Pakistan, space for civil society shrank over the past year and international donors retreated as their work became more difficult. In this challenging environment, NED’s support became even more important as a lifeline to those working to consolidate Pakistan’s democracy during another key transition. This support included strengthening democratic governance and public accountability at the provincial and local levels, ensuring active civic and electoral participation, and strengthening social and cultural movements that counter militant discourse and ideology.

Also, the Endowment continued to shift significant resources towards countries facing acute political crises, namely Thailand and the Philippines, as well as countries where new developments presented opportunities for democratic gains, such as Sri Lanka. These seven countries represented nearly 80% of planned spending in Asia in 2018. The NED also maintained targeted programs in other countries in the region, providing support for democratic development and advocacy in Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Nepal, and elsewhere.  The Endowment also looked to engage in a more sustained effort in Bangladesh, where political dysfunction, rising security threats, and limited space for independent civil society and media poses a serious challenge to democratic governance.

Although no single political narrative defined the Asia region in 2018, there were a number of cross-cutting issues and developments that the Endowment sought to address. These included the growth of intolerant, chauvinistic and extremist forces that sought to erode democratic norms; a reordering of political alliances; tightening political space for civil society; dominant militaries and weak civilian governments; massive state corruption; and dominant- or one-party states. In virtually every country in the region, these developments were taking place within the context of rapid urbanization, economic development and integration, and expansion of access to information communication technology.

Cover image: Malaysian women participate in a discussion of human rights in their country during a meeting with National Endowment for Democracy staff members.

To learn more and to see a detailed list of our grantees, please visit the NED website.

2018 NED Grants in Asia

Around 1,000 people attended the WUC led protests in Geneva, including Uyghurs, Tibetans, Southern Mongolians, Taiwanese, Chinese Christians, Vietnamese, and international human rights NGOs.

In Focus: Uyghurs

Since coming to power in 2012, Xi Jinping and his government have returned China to a level of political repression unseen since Mao Zedong’s death in 1977. Although this repression is widespread, ethnic and religious groups – particularly the Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in East Turkistan/Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region – have suffered the most brutal crackdown. With support from NED, the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) is playing a leading role in raising global awareness about the repression of Uyghur people by the Chinese government.

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Malaysian women participate in a discussion of human rights in their country during a meeting with National Endowment for Democracy staff members.

In Focus: Malayasia

One of NED’s great advantages as an independent and nongovernmental organization is its capacity to react quickly when unanticipated events present new opportunities to advance democratic change. This was the case recently when Malaysia’s politics took an unexpected turn and NED, working with its core grantees NDI and IRI, utilized its contingency funds to provide crucial resources for rapid political reform.

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Central and Eastern Europe

A Year in Review

Central and Eastern Europe Regional Overview

In 2018, the Endowment expanded the size and scope of its support to strengthen civil society in Europe, including political parties, trade unions, and business groups, as well as independent media which are on the front lines of the struggle against deepening authoritarianism in Europe.

Across Europe, populist and extremist politicians continued to grow in popularity throughout the year. The European Union and its eastern neighborhood witnessed an increasing disillusionment with democratic processes due to poor governance and ineffective economies. The political, economic and social divide between western, central, and eastern Europe widened. In the new democracies of Central Europe, far-right movements, nationalism and intolerance increased. The Eastern Partnership states that inked EU Association Agreements did little to enact needed reforms, promoting political instability and public dissatisfaction. In the EU aspirant countries of southeastern Europe, most democratic transitions stagnated or regressed.

Compounding the region’s specific post-communist and post-conflict challenges were other issues of systemic corruption, weak institutions, political polarization, and social, cultural, and ethnic divisions. Central and eastern Europe experienced a growing centralization of power. Illiberal governments proposed or enacted legislation to curb civil society and capture media. Exploiting these difficulties, Russia increased its sharp power efforts to divide the United States and Europe, destabilize democracies, and forestall European integration. China and other authoritarian states also sought to increase their geostrategic influence and challenge democratic norms and standards in the region.

The Endowment’s primary focus in Europe remained the promotion of accountability of governments, elected officials, and political parties. NED assisted civil society organizations pushing for reforms and better governance, holding governments and politicians responsible for their promises and performance, fighting corruption and foreign malign influence, upholding democratic norms, and supporting their societies’ European choice. To foster greater accountability as well as counter a polluted and closing space for public debate, the Endowment stepped up support to independent media and investigative journalism groups. A second aspect of this focus on defending the integrity of the information space was increased assistance for initiatives that counter Russian disinformation. To oppose autocratic governments’ attempts to restrict space for civil society, NED support bolstered the resiliency of NGOs.

The Endowment’s country priorities for the Europe region in 2018 were those whose democratic transitions initially showed promise but are now imperiled, such as Ukraine and Moldova; those whose governments that are increasingly repressive or dysfunctional – Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia; and those presenting new political openings – Belarus and Macedonia. As the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall approached, NED further reengaged in central Europe to defend the gains made in the New Member States of the EU. Given the depth and breadth of the democratic decline across central and eastern Europe, the Endowment also increased its support for regional programs.

Cover image: A child visits the War Childhood Museum in Sarajevo.

To learn more and to see a detailed list of our grantees, please visit the NED website.

2018 NED Grants in Central and Eastern Europe

An exhibit from Sarajevo's War Childhood Museum.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

NED was proud to support the work of Sarajevo-based War Childhood Museum in 2018, which features a powerful multimedia archive of personal stories about wartime experiences among youth in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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A 2018 youth engagement forum hosted by MEMO 98.


MEMO 98, a Slovakia-based NED grantee and one of the world’s leading organizations monitoring media around elections, celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2018.

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A Year in Review

Eurasia Regional Overview

Although the Eurasia region continued to struggle in 2018 with powerful authoritarian trends, significant new opportunities, and signs of hope appeared for democratic progress in key countries. Civil society continued its extraordinary fight against the crackdown, while also helping to spark and shape political developments throughout the region.

Russia remained NED’s top priority for the region, as President Putin used Russia’s March 2018 presidential elections to formally extend his rule through at least 2024. Yet as the government faced a crisis of legitimacy over its inability to address socio-economic problems, a growing network of grassroots movements pushed back against the regime’s agenda. Their campaigns – focused on topics ranging from pension reform to corruption to environmental issues – showed that the Kremlin remains wary of public pressure.

The Endowment prioritized support for programs channeling this new grassroots energy into sustainable civic organization. Despite clumsy attempts to regulate the Internet, the digital space largely remains free and thus continued to serve as an important platform for civic mobilization and access to independent information.

Armenia presented the best opportunity for democratic progress in Eurasia following the peaceful transition of power in the spring and the subsequent parliamentary elections which swept away much of the former ruling elite. Having secured a majority in parliament, the new government – composed of democratically minded but inexperienced legislators – needed help to consolidate their democratic gains and build new systems for accountability and rule of law. The crucial programming of NED’s core institutes built government capacity, and helped to reform critical sectors such as business and political parties.

Georgia remained relatively open and pluralistic, but continued to suffer from a highly polarized and personalized political system that lacks authentic checks and balances. NED prioritized support for initiatives that promoted the strengthening of new political parties, as well as local independent media and outreach to conservative and marginalized communities to build consensus around key democratic values.

In Central Asia, taking advantage of the opening in Uzbekistan remained the top priority for the Endowment. NED focused on programs aimed at developing a new generation of civic and political activists, monitoring and defending fundamental human rights, and strengthening the capacity of academic and policy experts to contribute to the democratic reform process. Endowment resources also supported civil society efforts to promote the democratic development of the Kyrgyz Republic. NED support helped promote public policy debates, civil society oversight of government institutions, and the continued development of political pluralism in the country.

NED maintained support for its partners in the most repressive countries in the region – Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan – particularly monitoring and documenting human rights abuses, supporting independent media, strengthening the ability of civil society to remain active and engaged, and raising international awareness of ongoing government repression.

Cover image: A woman participates in a #RejectSerzh demonstration in Armenia in 2018.

To learn more and to see a detailed list of our grantees, please visit the NED website.

2018 NED Grants in Eurasia

Armenia's "Velvet Revolution" was a democratic highlight of 2018.

Armenia's Independent Media

In 2018, Armenia’s “Velvet Revolution” triumphantly ended Prime Minister Sargsyan’s decade of autocratic rule and marked the beginning of the Pashinyan era. NED supported five exceptional Armenian independent online media outlets, which specialize  in breaking news coverage, analytical reporting, and investigative journalism that were invaluable throughout 2018’s historic events.

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A Georgian Young Lawyers' Association poster warns against voter intimidation.

Georgia's 2018 Elections

While Georgia has a history of genuinely competitive elections, the electoral process remains fraught. Robust domestic vote monitoring remains a key element of safeguarding the process, and NED was proud to support several grantees working to observe and report on Georgia’s 2018 elections.

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Latin America and Caribbean

A Year in Review

Regional Overview

Latin America & Caribbean

Democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean continued to face significant challenges in 2018. The influential Latinobarómetro survey reported a steady decline of support for democracy across the region, from 61 percent in 2010 to 48 percent in 2018. Citizens reported feeling that the region is not progressing, and consider the economy, citizen security, and corruption to be their greatest concerns. These negative indicators were consistent across the region. To address such challenges, NED deployed its resources to support programs that promote the exchange of best practices among countries and organizations, and that leverage the experiences and lessons learned from high-performing democracies.

Elections in Brazil and Mexico demonstrated voter dissatisfaction with the political status quo and corruption. Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua saw an alarming increase in authoritarian rule. The consequences of dire political and security circumstances in the Northern Triangle (Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador) were felt across the region. Recognizing the outsized impact of these fragile democracies, NED expanded its programs in the Northern Triangle to respond to these democratic challenges, and to strengthen political accountability and citizen oversight, especially of public security policies.

In Haiti, NED focused on rule of law, conflict resolution, and the advocacy and oversight capacity of incipient civil society groups. In Argentina, NED is working to strengthen judicial independence and encourage Argentina to champion democratic efforts throughout the region. In Colombia, NED focused on programs to implement peace in a post-accord era. In Ecuador, NED funded organizations that monitored human rights and freedom of expression as a political transition presented opportunities for growing democratic space.

NED’s regional programs worked to uphold inter-American standards and principles and prepare civil society groups to engage in discussions on emerging global challenges to democracy, including disinformation, the political inclusion of historically marginalized groups, China’s influence, and democratic de-consolidation. While democracy remains critically endangered in much of the region, there is reason for optimism, given that empowered and engaged citizens are demanding accountability and improved governance.

Cover image: Ashanti Peru holds a forum for indigenous, Afro-Peruvian, LGBTI, and disabled candidates for office in 2018.

To learn more and to see a detailed list of our grantees, please visit the NED website.

2018 NED Grants in Latin America and Caribbean

Connectas earned international accolades in 2018 for its "Petrofraude" expose about President Maduro's corrupt activities.

In Focus: Kleptocracy

Democracy in Latin America continued to be hindered by systemic corruption, crime, and violence in 2018. Unfortunately, inadequate media coverage and disinformation continue to enable authoritarian governments to flourish. NED was proud to continue supporting Connectas and its diligent efforts to bring substantive, contextual and compelling journalism into the mainstream.

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Young activists at a Guatemala Visible workshop in 2018.

Young Activists

As civil society’s confidence in democracy continues to erode at alarming levels throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, the persistent engagement and activism of its young people is cause for inspiration and hope. NED is proud to work with several outstanding organizations focused on, and powered by, young activists.

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Middle East and North Africa

A Year in Review

Regional Overview

Mounting turmoil, conflict, and terrorism devastated prospects for democratic progress and reform in most countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) throughout 2018. Security and stability became urgent needs, allowing governments to sideline discussion of political reform or liberalization in almost every country. Despite the instability and repressive environment, activists, civic movements and political leaders throughout the region continued to demonstrate a resounding resilience and commitment to reform. The Endowment’s priorities in the MENA region reflected broad and diverse support to civil society in countries with strong organizations that represented constituencies asserting demands for reform.

In Afghanistan and Iraq, civil and political activists worked for political reform, and challenged the idea that security and democracy are mutually exclusive. In countries marked by conflict, such as Libya, Syria, and Yemen, the focus remained on keeping democracy from being subsumed by other priorities. In those contexts, NED emphasized efforts to expand independent voices, represent critical constituencies for change, and strengthen the emerging next generations of civil and political leaders.

In countries with more constrained opportunities for civil society, including Algeria, Egypt, the Gulf States, Iran, and Turkey, the Endowment prioritized initiatives that offered a lifeline to activists engaged in promoting democratic ideas and values, expanding the space for dialogue and exchange, and serving as watchdogs in critical sectors such as labor and human rights.

Where political environments limited civil society’s ability to have much direct political influence, such as Mauritania and Jordan, NED supported civil society partners to respond constructively when greater engagement was possible.

In countries with greater civic space and an established civil society, as in Morocco and Tunisia, NED priorities included support for broad-based advocacy and accountability efforts, expanded independent media content, and strengthening civil society as a community. In addition, NED’s MENA regional programs strengthened emerging networks and built local and sectoral capacities in conflict zones; expanded support where democratic gains remained intact, including Tunisia’s transition; promoted dialogue, pluralism, and building bridges among communities threatened by division; supported human rights defenders; and addressed systemic good governance failure and weak local and national institutions.

To learn more and to see a detailed list of our grantees, please visit the NED website.

2018 NED Grants in Middle East and North Africa

An Afghan woman reads election information before voting in 2018's parliamentary elections; image courtesy of NED grantee Hash e Subh.

Independent Media in MENA

In the Arab world, state-owned, partisan, and Iran or Gulf-funded media outlets leave little room for genuine debate on key issues, investigative reporting, or responsible and professional journalism. NED enthusiastically supported independent media organizations in their courageous fight against disinformation, hate speech, and authoritarian propaganda.

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Grantee ACDNO holds a 2018 citizen participation event in the newly elected municipalities of rural Fernana and Beni Mtir.


Tunisia’s authoritarian government has worked aggressively to erase the democratic gains that inspired hope during the Arab Spring. In response, NED offered training and financial support to numerous Tunisian organizations fighting for good local governance, and for the inclusion of independent and progressive candidates for office during Tunisia’s historic 2018 elections.

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A Year in Review

Global Regional Overview

In 2018, democracy and human rights advocates throughout the world faced a complicated landscape of heartening advances and troubling setbacks. Advocates in newly-transitioned countries sought to extend the momentum of watershed elections and shifts away from authoritarian rule, as they worked to follow through on calls for reform, building a democratic system that responds to citizens’ demands for effective governance and accountability, and ensuring all processes related to these goals were inclusive and encouraged their participation.

Meanwhile, the backsliding of democratic norms and tightening of authoritarian governments’ power around the globe remained a concern. Those who called for democracy confronted a range of restrictions and efforts to silence their voices. Despite the risks, however, civic and political actors in these countries have been steadfast in their efforts to push back against the closing of political space and continued to adapt and work around the challenges that they faced.

Fortunately, those working on democracy’s frontlines across the world did not have to face these formidable challenges alone. The Endowment’s Global program supported efforts to bring these advocates together to reaffirm democratic values and norms, strengthen transparent institutions, share experiences, and explore innovative solutions to the challenges of democratic development. In the past year, the NED’s Global program focused on bolstering democracy advocates’ ability to leverage their work in multiple regions and to address crosscutting challenges.

The NED’s Global program provided support to initiatives that fostered collaboration to strengthen human rights, democratic governance, political processes and institutions, independent media, freedom of association, and market-oriented reform. NED-supported projects provided a platform for networking across different regions and countries and opened up opportunities for exchanges of lessons learned, capacity building, and joint action at a strategic level. Other initiatives took advantage of the rich and diverse experiences of partners by ensuring that their knowledge and skills could be shared with their peers through the development of new tools to strengthen work in different areas. Supported projects continued to engage a broad range of actors, including activists, independent media, workers, the private sector, lawyers, political parties, and various networks of women and youth.

Cover image: A memory quilt tells the stories of disappearances of Nepal with eight narratives shared through squares made by the families of disappeared from one of the severely affected districts in Western Nepal. The International Coalition of Sites of Conscience’s Asia Regional Network hosted two webinars with families of the missing in Sri Lanka and Nepal. Participants shared their experiences and lessons learned, touching on an array of issues from government accountability and education during conflict to the daily stresses that come with life in conflict and post-conflict zones.

To learn more and to see a detailed list of our grantees, please visit the NED website.

2018 Global Activities

Participants in the RFK Human Rights' strategic litigation workshop in Dakar, Senegal.

In Focus: RFK Center for Human Rights

NED was proud to support the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights in 2018, as it continued its work to foster collaboration and knowledge sharing among human rights defenders in Africa and Latin America.

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Photograph: Participants in WLP's Transnational Capacity Building Institute discussed the current global context for women’s rights and human rights, and research on family law and gender equality.

In Focus: Women's Learning Partnership

The NED grantee Women’s Learning Partnership for Rights, Development and Peace (WLP) is dedicated to advancing communication and cooperation among and between women across the world to protect human rights, facilitate sustainable development, and promote peace.

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A community in Zambia shows land damage from a copper mine, at an event held by the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre.

Global At A Glance

A visual essay showing more remarkable organizations from across the globe.

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International Forum for Democratic Studies

A Year In Review


Pictured Above: Ivan Krastev analyzed the failure of democracy in Russia and democratic backsliding in Central Europe at a November 2018 event.

The International Forum for Democratic Studies at the National Endowment for Democracy is a leading center for research, discussion, thought, and analysis on the theory and practice of democracy around the world. Established in 1994, the Forum strives to bridge the gap between academic research and the practice of democracy through several initiatives:

The Forum also supports and enhances the work of the Endowment’s grants program and the World Movement for Democracy.

The International Forum for Democratic Studies is directed by Shanthi Kalathil. Christopher Walker serves as the NED Vice President overseeing all aspects of the work of the Forum. The Forum’s programs benefit from the advice and involvement of a Research Council consisting of scholars and other specialists on democracy from around the world. Marc F. Plattner and Larry Diamond serve as co-chairs of the Research Council and coedit the Journal of Democracy.

Research and Conferences Program

The Forum’s research and analysis focus on issues of democratic transition and consolidation as well as the common challenges facing both new and established democracies. Each year the Forum convenes an extensive number of meetings ranging from international conferences to smaller seminars, lectures, and colloquia in Washington, D.C. Among its other efforts over the past year, the Forum held numerous panels, expert briefings and book launch events.

In December 2018, the Forum launched a new podcast tied to its Power 3.0 blog, focusing on  the ways in which modern authoritarianism takes advantage of the features once chiefly thought to empower democracies – the interconnected economic and financial systems, ubiquitous communication networks, international norms and institutions, and global media and culture. Key areas of authoritarian influence and democratic resilience explored by this series include culture and education; media/information/technology; norms/ideas/institutions; overseas assistance/trade/investment; and transnational kleptocracy.

Defending the Integrity of the Information Space: The Forum conducts research, conceives and organizes roundtables, and publishes work that explores the democratic response to illiberal forces adept in the manipulation and projection of media and information-based influence. As part of its larger efforts to examine these issues on a transnational and interdisciplinary basis, the Forum organized two major workshops in 2018. A February workshop in Accra, Ghana, explored the ways in which the Chinese party-state exerts influence over African media space, and an October meeting in Washington, D.C., examined comparative responses to the global disinformation challenge. The Forum also organized roundtable discussions on “Authoritarian Influence Operations: Their Evolution and Internationalization” and “Algorithms, Bots, and ‘Cyber Troops’: The ABCs of Computational Propaganda and the Illiberal Learning Curve.”

In 2018, the Forum published a Big Question on “How Will ‘Deepfakes’ and Emerging Technology Transform Disinformation?;” and Forum Q&As on “Civil Society, Artificial Intelligence, and the Future of Freedom of Expression” with Vidushi Marda, “The Commercial Drivers of Precision Propaganda” with Dipayan Ghosh, and “Digital Disinformation and Philippine Democracy in the Balance” with Maria Ressa; and Issue Briefs on “The ‘Demand Side’ of the Disinformation Crisis” and “How Disinformation Impacts Politics and Publics.”

Combatting Transnational Kleptocracy: The Forum conducts research, organizes workshops, and publishes materials on the emergence of transnational kleptocracy and its impact on democracy. As part of its ongoing efforts to explore these topics, the Forum organized two major interdisciplinary workshops. A February meeting in Accra, Ghana, examined how kleptocracy operates across the African continent and how civil society and investigative journalists can respond, and a September workshop in Washington, D.C., examined campaigns to expose kleptocracy. In addition, the Forum organized roundtables on “Venezuela’s Transnational Kleptocracy” and “João Lourenço’s First Year: Prospects for Reform in Angola.”

Network of Democracy Research Institutes: The Forum coordinates the Network of Democracy Research Institutes (NDRI), an international network of think tanks that study democracy, democratization, and related topics in comparative politics and international affairs. At the close of 2018, the Network consisted of 78 members, including independent institutions, university-based study centers, and research programs affiliated with other organizations. The Forum publishes Democracy Research News, an electronic newsletter that highlights new publications and conferences sponsored by NDRI members.


Fifteenth Annual Seymour Martin Lipset Lecture on Democracy in the World

Anwar Ibrahim, President of the People’s Justice Party of Malaysia, delivered the fifteenth annual Seymour Martin Lipset Lecture on Democracy in the World on the topic “Confronting Authoritarianism.” The lecture was held at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. on February 11, 2019. An article based on the lecture appeared in the April 2019 issue of the Journal of Democracy.


The International Forum for Democratic Studies colloquium series included a wide range of topics and speakers throughout 2018, including:

Is the Party Over? Youth, Political Parties, and Elections in Georgia” Vera Gogkhia, Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow, with comments by Miriam Lanskoy, Senior Director of Eurasia, NED (December 11).

Imitation and Its Discontents: Democratic Malaise in Post-Communist Europe” Ivan Krastev Chairman, Centre for Liberal Strategies (Sofia) and Permanent Fellow, Institute for Human Sciences (Vienna) (November 5).

The Difficult Road to Transparency in Latin America” María Baron, Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow, with comments by Nicolás Dassen, Senior Modernization of the State Specialist, Inter-American Development Bank (July 12).

Elections in Zimbabwe: Autocracy and Stasis, or Democracy and Change” Alex Magaisa, Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow, with comments by Alexander H. Noyes, Senior Associate, Africa Program, Center for Strategic & International Studies (July 10).

Why Women’s Political Participation Matters in the Congo” Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow Passy Mubalama, with comments by Rudy Massamba, Program Officer for Central and West Africa, NED (June 28).

Has Freedom of Expression Become a Self-Parody? Examples from Pakistan’s Social Media” Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow Nadeem F. Paracha (June 19).

The End of Peru’s Success Story?” Alberto Vergara, Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow (June 7).

Central and Eastern Europe: Power, Fairness, and the Future of Democracy” Dimitrina Petrova, Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow, with comments by Rodger Potocki, Senior Director for Europe, NED (May 30).

Russia as a Global Challenge” Lilia Shevtsova, Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow, with comments by Miriam Lanskoy, Senior Director for Eurasia, NED, and Christopher Walker, Vice President for Studies and Analysis, NED (April 17).

Populism, Liberalism, Democracy: A Book Launch Celebration” William A. Galston, Author, Anti-Pluralism: The Populist Threat to Liberal Democracy and Yascha Mounk, Author, The People vs. Democracy: Why Our Freedom Is in Danger & How to Save It (April 3).

The Roots of Illiberalism in Hungary and Central Europe” Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow Gabor Scheiring, with comments by Christopher Walker Vice President for Studies and Analysis, NED (February 14).

Decaying Institutions: How Corruption Undermines Democracy in Nigeria” Oludotun Babayem, Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow, with comments by Debra LaPrevotte, Senior Investigator, The Sentry (January 30).

Beyond Successful Elections: An Evaluation of Ghana’s ‘Shiny’ Democracy” Nana Ama Agyemang Astante, Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow, with comments by Dave Peterson, Senior Director for Africa, NED (January 17).

From Crisis to Governance: Reclaiming the Philippines’ Democracy Narrative” Maxine Tanya Hamada, Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow (January 10).


Center For Media Assistance

A Year in Review


CIMA holds a workshop on the state of independent media at NED headquarters in 2018.

As independent media continued to face unprecedented challenges across the globe throughout 2018, CIMA research, discussions, and partnerships supported the vital work to coordinate and overcome them — from the grassroots to the global scale. In early 2018, National Endowment for Democracy president Carl Gershman joined CIMA and other regional and media experts at Indiana University to discuss the myriad challenges facing today’s media environment, from democratic backsliding and media capture to disinformation and declining trust.

While CIMA research confirmed a daunting trend toward low trust in the media and dissatisfaction with democracies in Latin America, the Center works with global partners to rebuild the trust in and support for quality media. CIMA hosted Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and other activists, academics, and media experts for the Washington launch of RSF’s Journalism Trust Initiative, and continues to be actively involved in those discussions.

Highlighting the importance of local, national, and regional stakeholders, CIMA also continued to work with experts on the ground in building the demand side for trustworthy independent media and strong political support. 2018 welcomed the first year of the Open Internet for Democracy initiative, a CIMA collaboration with the National Democratic Institute and the Center for International Private Enterprise, and the continuation of regional discussions in West Africa alongside ECOWAS and other vital voices on the continent.

In overcoming these challenges, and given global declines in revenue for independent media, increasing coordinated, strategic international support is of vital importance. CIMA’s data-gathering efforts on funding trends in the field of media development expanded in 2018 to a research collaboration with AidData, providing a comprehensive analysis of aid flows toward defending independent media. This and continued conversations at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) prompted an extensive research and consultation process on the current status and possible future collaboration of donors working to support independent media. This research culminated in a meeting scheduled for early 2019 meeting of bilateral, multilateral, and private donors at the OECD, led by CIMA, moving toward a more strategic and collaborative approach to media development.


A leading voice in media development worldwide, CIMA conducts and commissions independent research on key topics in the field. Click here for all CIMA publications.

World Movement for Democracy

A Year in Review


Image: President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré of Burkina Faso welcomes guests to “Reinforcing the Role of Business in Supporting Democracy and Governance,” co-organized by WMD.

Initiated in 1999 by the National Endowment for Democracy, the World Movement for Democracy is a global network of democrats including activists, practitioners, scholars, policy makers, and funders who collaborate to promote democracy. The World Movement Secretariat at the NED facilitates information sharing, networking, and solidarity building to bolster democratic movements and leverage support provided by democracy assistance organizations such as the NED. In doing so, the World Movement supports three thematic pillars: defending democratic space, promoting inclusive governance, and strengthening democratic leadership. Learn more about the World Movement and its activities.

Defending Democratic Space

Civil society activists and everyday citizens increasingly face restrictions on their freedoms in both physical and digital spaces. Through its defending democratic space initiatives, the World Movement helps civil society understand their rights to peacefully assemble and associate, collaborates to reform repressive laws, and highlights the stories of activists targeted for their work.

Right to Receive Funding

The right to receive funding from international donors helps civil society organizations (CSOs) fulfill their missions and contributes to their sustainability, particularly in resource insecure communities. However, many authoritarian governments restrict civil society’s access to funding to impede its ability to hold leaders accountable. Through its Right to Receive Funding initiative, the World Movement has developed a resources hub with various advocacy tools to help civil society defend this right.

In November 2018, the World Movement brought civil society leaders from around the world together to develop advocacy strategies CSOs can employ to strengthen their right to receive funding. Advocacy strategies produced during the workshop were circulated among organizations facing restrictions on this right. Additionally, participants agreed to engage in joint advocacy in the coming year. Want to learn more about civil society’s internationally protected right to receive funding? Check out our resource hub.

Civic Space Initiative

Through the Civic Space Initiative—a collaboration with Article 19, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, and the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law—the World Movement supports civil society activists facing restrictions on their freedoms by connecting them with international and regional human rights mechanisms.

In March 2018, CSI welcomed the appointment of Clement Voule as United Nations Special Rapporteur (UNSR) on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, and in partnership with the Solidarity Center, coordinated one of his first civil society consultations. At the World Movement’s Ninth Global Assembly in May 2018, Voule also held a workshop to solicit input from global civil society on how best to serve the human rights community. Read more in the Ninth Global Assembly Report (page 16).

Image: Clement Voule and NED staff are shown at the World Movement’s Ninth Global Assembly in May 2018.

#SetThemFree Campaign

The World Movement’s Set Them Free campaign builds solidarity among individuals who are unjustly harassed, imprisoned, or otherwise targeted for promoting democracy and human rights throughout the world. The campaign raises awareness, mobilizes others, and engages stakeholders to advocate for imprisoned activists.

In 2018, the campaign produced a series of videos that highlight political prisoners in Azerbaijan. The videos feature interviews with their family members, who explain what life is like for activists and their families in repressive countries like Azerbaijan. The campaign also highlighted increasing political imprisonments in countries like Nicaragua, Venezuela, Egypt, and Cuba.

Promoting Inclusive Governance

The World Movement aims to strengthen inclusive democratic governance with an emphasis on empowering leaders who are committed to democratic principles. As part of this effort, the World Movement facilitates building effective partnerships between civil society, government, and the private sector, and also explores constructive ways to enhance political participation to influence policy-making and institutional reforms.

Strengthening the Voice of Business to Support Democratic Governance

In January 2018, the World Movement, Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Africa Business Center (USABC) jointly launched an initiative, which fosters collaboration among leaders from the private sector, government, and civil society to promote democratic governance.

The initiative held its inaugural conference in Ougadougou, Burkina Faso, where nearly 400 representatives of the three sectors identified areas of collaboration. At the conclusion of the event, participants issued the Ougadougou Declaration outlining principles for collaboration among the three sectors. During the year, the initiative held a series of meetings in Kenya, Mauritania, Nigeria, and Senegal. Read more about the event and the initiative here.

President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré of Burkina Faso welcomes guests to an event entitled “Reinforcing the Role of Business in Supporting Democracy and Governance.”


President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré of Burkina Faso presents the Ouagadougou Declaration alongside WMD and partner staff.

Strengthening Civic Engagement: Inspiration from South Korea and the Globe

Throughout 2018, the World Movement drew inspiration from the experience of South Korea’s Candlelight Movement of 2016-2017, during which citizens flooded the streets of Seoul to successfully call for greater government accountability. To respond to aspirations expressed by citizens during the movement, South Korean civil society, academics, youth, and parliamentarians have committed to initiating democratic reforms and rebuilding democratic citizenship.

As part of its Strengthening Civic Engagement project, the World Movement convened several meetings allowing civil society activists from around the world to engage with South Korean civil society and government representatives. During the meetings, participants explored how to revitalize democratic engagement by learning from South Korea’s experience. Read reflections of civil society leaders from the Philippines, Kenya, the United States, and Armenia on what they learned from South Korea’s experiences here.

South Korean civil society leaders, university students, and Members of Parliament discuss public trust in political institutions at WMD’s 2018 Seoul symposium.

Strengthening Democratic Leadership

The next generation of democratic leadership plays a crucial role in sustaining and advancing democracy. Through its fellowship program, the World Movement highlights the importance of inter-generational dialogue and facilitates the exchange of ideas and experiences between seasoned and emerging leaders.

Hurford Youth Fellowship

Supported by the Hurford Foundation, the Hurford Youth Fellowship empowers activists under 30 years old to develop their leadership capacity at the World Movement Secretariat in Washington, D.C. During their fellowship, activists deepen their understanding of challenges to democracy and connect with leaders of democracy movements around the world.

In 2018, Margarita Maira of Chile, Risham Waseem of Pakistan, and Anthony Esguerra of the Philippines participated in the fellowship. Margarita considered practical ways to make governance a topic of interest for younger generations and find opportunities to connect youth to democratic institutions. Risham produced videos about misconceptions of democracy to combat authoritarian narratives. Anthony explored strategies to counter disinformation and fake news through strengthening media and information literacy. Read more about the Hurford Youth Fellowship.

Hurford Youth Fellows Margarita Maira and Risham Waseem with NED staff.


Hurford Youth Fellow Anthony Esguerra with Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows during his first week at NED.


Risham Waseem discusses global media trends promoting populist and nationalistic narratives that discredit democracy, shrink civic space, and threaten youth political participation.

Global Assemblies

Every two years, the World Movement’s Global Assembly provides a unique opportunity for engagement and collaboration. Global Assemblies allow World Movement participants to share lessons of accomplishments they have made and consider challenges they confront. Assemblies function as a networking platform for mutual solidarity and support across borders, and feature a wide variety of workshops, panel discussions, and other activities.

The Ninth Global Assembly was held from May 6-9, 2018, in Dakar, Senegal under the theme, “Building Strategic Partnerships for Democratic Renewal.” At the Assembly, more than 400 democrats from over 100 countries contributed to discussions on defending and strengthening different facets of democracy, from combating disinformation to encouraging public dialogue through artistic activism.  Democracy Courage Tribute Awards were presented to human rights lawyers in China, photojournalists in the Philippines, and advocates for the rule of law in Africa. The award recognizes those working in particularly difficult circumstances outside of the spotlight of the world’s attention. View the interactive Assembly report here.

Ketevan Chachava, executive director of the Tbilisi-based Center for Development and Democracy and member of the World Movement Steering Committee, participates in the discussion at a networking exercise.


Assembly participants create a mural that represents global solidarity for democracy.
Thulisile Madonsela, former Public Protector of South Africa, accepts a Courage Tribute Award on behalf of advocates for the rule of law in Africa. Watch highlights from her acceptance speech in WMD’s interactive Assembly Report (page 9).
Daniel Milo, Senior Research Fellow at the GLOBSEC Policy Institute.

In a lightning talk on “Defending Digital Information Space,” Daniel Milo, Senior Research Fellow at the GLOBSEC Policy Institute discusses how GLOBSEC educated youth in Slovakia about disinformation by utilizing the expansive reach of two popular YouTube stars, rather than through traditional methods like releasing a report or hosting a conference. Read about his strategies in the Assembly Report (page 25).


Join the Network

World Movement participants engage with peers facing challenges to human rights and democracy, build solidarity within regional and global networks, and collaborate on innovative approaches to preserving freedom. We welcome any organization or individual who can contribute to and benefit from this network. Learn more about the many ways you can get involved by visiting our website.


Journal of Democracy

Since its first appearance in 1990, the Journal of Democracy has established itself as a leading voice in discussions of the problems and prospects of democracy around the world. The Journal explores in depth every aspect of the establishment, consolidation, and maintenance of democracy, including political institutions, parties and elections, civil society, ethnic conflict, economic reform, public opinion, the role of the media, federalism, and constitutionalism. It covers not only practical political matters but also questions of democratic theory and culture.

In addition to publishing articles on every inhabited region of the world, the Journal features reviews of important books on democracy, reports on recent elections, excerpts from speeches by leading democrats and democratic dissidents, and news about the activities of pro-democracy groups worldwide.

The Journal’s authors include eminent social scientists and historians, statesmen and leaders of democratic movements, and renowned intellectuals. It is written and edited for the general reader, while maintaining the highest scholarly standards. A truly global publication, the Journal attracts both authors and readers from all over the world. For more information, please visit our website at journalofdemocracy.org.

The Journal of Democracy is published quarterly by the Johns Hopkins University Press in January, April, July, and October. Subscriptions are $50 per year for individuals and $175 for institutions. For further pricing information, including online subscriptions, please visit our website at www.journalofdemocracy.org. To subscribe, visit https://www.journalofdemocracy.org/subscribe/.

2018 issues in brief

JANUARY: The January issue included a cluster on “The Rise of Kleptocracy,” with articles by Christopher Walker and Melissa Aten; Oliver Bullough; Alexander Cooley, John Heathershaw, and J.C. Sharman; Brett Carter; Cynthia Gabriel; Miriam Lanskoy and Dylan Myles-Primakoff; and Andrew Wedeman. Also in this issue, articles by Amichai Magen and by Geoffrey Macdonald and Luke Waggoner examined terrorism and democracy, and Zoltan Barany analyzed Aung San Suu Kyi’s missteps in Burma. Click here to read the January 2018 issue.

APRIL: Our April issue featured analysis of “China in Xi’s ‘New Era’” from Susan Shirk, Minxin Pei, Shanthi Kalathil, John Fitzgerald, Anne-Marie Brady, Donald Emmerson, Martin Hala, and Orville Schell. Other highlights in this issue included a report on Freedom House’s global survey for 2017 and articles on populism, liberalism and democracy by William Galston and by Yascha Mounk. Click here to read the April 2018 issue.

JULY: The July issue featured eight articles on “Explaining Eastern Europe” by Jacques Rupnik; Péter Krekó and Zsolt Enyedi; Wojciech Przybylski; Jiri Pehe; Grigorij Mesežnikov and Oľga Gyárfášová; Venelin Ganev; Alina Mungiu-Pippidi; and Ivan Krastev and Stephen Holmes. Also in this issue, Rached Ghannouchi, founder and president of the Ennahdha party in Tunisia, wrote on “Islam and Democracy in Tunisia” and Christopher Walker on “What is ‘Sharp Power’?” Click here to read the July 2018 issue.

OCTOBER: Our October issue looked at recent developments in six Latin American countries, with analysis from Kenneth Greene and Mariano Sánchez-Talanquer; Forrest Colburn and Arturo Cruz S.; Laura Gamboa; Alberto Vergara; Carlos de la Torre; Jean-Paul Faguet; and Steven Levitsky. Other articles highlights in this issue included Francis Fukuyama on “Why National Identity Matters” and Tom Ginsburg and Aziz Huq on democratic “near misses.” Click here to read the October 2018 issue.


Selected essays originally published in the Journal of Democracy have been collected into a series of books edited by Marc F. Plattner and Larry Diamond and published by the Johns Hopkins University Press. Journal of Democracy books and articles are used widely in university courses on political science, international affairs, and sociology. The Journal’s most recent publication, Authoritarian Goes Global (edited by Larry Diamond, Marc F. Plattner, and Christopher Walker), was released in 2016. For the complete list of Journal of Democracy books, please visit https://www.journalofdemocracy.org/books/.


Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows Program

A Year in Review

Named in honor of former president Ronald Reagan and the late U.S. congressman Dante Fascell (D-FL), whose bipartisan vision led to the creation of NED, the Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows Program offers practitioners, scholars, and journalists from around the world the opportunity to spend five months in residence at NED’s International Forum for Democratic Studies in order to undertake independent research and outreach on democratic prospects worldwide. Reagan-Fascell fellowships focus on the political, social, economic, legal, or cultural aspects of democratic development and culminate in a variety of project outcomes.

In cooperation with NED’s Democracy Resource Center, the Center for International Media Assistance, the World Movement for Democracy, and the NED family of core institutes, the Forum offers fellows a collegial environment in which to conduct research and writing, exchange ideas and experiences, and develop professional relationships within a global network of democracy advocates. In response to the closing of civic space around the world, the Reagan-Fascell program offers select fellowships to “democrats at risk” and seeks to strengthen support networks for them, in collaboration with counterpart institutions.


2018’s Spring Fellows were:

Ms. María Baron | Argentina
“Evaluating Government-CSO Partnerships in Promoting Democracy and Development in Latin America”

Ms. María Baron is an Argentine journalist and global executive director of Directorio Legislativo, an organization that promotes transparency in government, democratic consolidation, and enhanced access to public information throughout Latin America. She is also founding chair of the Latin American Network for Legislative Transparency, a group comprising 24 civil society organizations across 12 countries in the region. During her fellowship, Ms. Baron is analyzing the structures that allow for successful partnerships between government and civil society in promoting democratic development in Argentina.

Ms. Aya Hijazi | Egypt/United States
“The Average Citizen’s Role in Reshaping the World”

Ms. Aya Hijazi is an Egyptian-American children’s rights advocate who, along with her husband, Mohamed Hassanein, founded the Cairo-based Belady Foundation (My Country: An Island for Humanity) in 2013 to support Egyptian street children, steer them away from the street culture of violence, and reintegrate them into society through counseling, education, art, music, and skill building. During her fellowship, Ms. Hijazi is working to reestablish the Belady Foundation, and is focusing on civil society and the plight of political prisoners in Egypt.

Dr. Alex Magaisa | Zimbabwe/United Kingdom
“Making Rights Make Sense in Zimbabwe: A Citizen’s Manual on the Declaration of Rights”

Dr. Alex Magaisa is a prominent Zimbabwean lawyer and constitutional expert currently teaching law at the University of Kent Law School in England. He is also the author of a widely acclaimed blog offering in-depth analyses of law and politics in Zimbabwe. During his fellowship, Dr. Magaisa is writing a handbook on citizens’ fundamental rights and freedoms under the new constitution, a project aimed at enhancing a culture of constitutionalism and democratic citizenship in Zimbabwe.

Ms. Passy Mubalama | Democratic Republic of Congo
“Strengthening Political Participation of Women and Girls in the DRC: Overcoming Cultural Barriers”

Ms. Passy Mubalama is a pro-democracy and women’s rights activist with over 7 years of experience in promoting democracy, human rights, good governance and the rule of law in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). She is founder and executive director of Action and Development Initiative for the Protection of Women and Children (AIDPROFEN), a nonprofit organization that promotes women’s rights in the eastern region of the DRC. During her fellowship, Ms. Mubalama is working on a handbook of strategies for overcoming cultural barriers to women’s political participation in the country.

Mr. Nadeem Paracha | Pakistan
“Reinvigorating Civic Nationalism in Pakistan”

Mr. Nadeem Paracha, or “NFP” as he is known, is a prominent Pakistani journalist and satirist, currently serving as head of ideas and creative strategy at Adcom Leo Burnett, an independent advertising agency. A widely read columnist who has commented on topics including religious extremism and democratic values in Pakistan, he is a frequent contributor to the Dawn, Pakistan’s most popular English daily. During his fellowship, Mr. Paracha is tracing the pluralistic and democratic roots of Muslim nationalism in Pakistan, a research project that will culminate in articles intended to serve as a counterpoint to the dominant extremist narrative in the country.

Mr. Khalil Parsa | Afghanistan
“Combating Corruption in Afghanistan”

Mr. Khalil Parsa is founding director of Supporting Organization for Afghanistan Civil Society, a NED grantee organization that builds the capacity of citizens and civil society organizations to report corruption. As head of the Herat Citizens Advocacy committee and as provincial director of Herat province’s Monitoring and Evaluation Committee, he has coordinated governmental and nongovernmental efforts in fighting against corruption in the region. During his fellowship, he is working on a policy memorandum delineating steps that the Afghan government, civil society, and international community may pursue in combating corruption in Afghanistan.

Dr. Dimitrina Petrova | Bulgaria/United Kingdom
“Reinventing the Human Rights Movement in Eastern Europe: A New Strategy for Civic Activism”

Dr. Dimitrina Petrova is a Bulgarian human rights activist and Program Director of SOS Children’s Villages. Following a career in Bulgarian politics after the collapse of communism, she has dedicated her work to defending the rights of East-Central Europe’s Roma minority through her role as director of the Human Rights Project and later, as founder and executive director of the European Roma Rights Centre in Budapest. During her fellowship, she is working to devise new strategies for civic activism in East-Central Europe that better suit current geopolitical realities and antidemocratic trends in the region.

Dr. Lilia Shevtsova | Russia/United States
“Russia as the Challenge: The Art of Survival by Undermining the Global Order”

Dr. Lilia Shevtsova is a prominent Russian political scientist currently based at Chatham House in London as an associate fellow. Over the course of her distinguished career, which has included stints at the Brookings Institution, Carnegie Moscow Center, Georgetown University, Sciences Po, University of California–Berkeley, Harvard University, St. Gallen, and Cornell University, she has conducted extensive research and writing on issues relating to postcommunist transformation, democratic transitions, and relations between Russia, the West, and Eastern Europe. During her fellowship, Dr. Shevtsova is studying the role of foreign policy in preserving Russia’s system of personalized power.

Dr. Alberto Vergara | Peru/United States
“Exploring Political Parties and Democracy through Fujimorismo in Peru”

Dr. Alberto Vergara is a professor at the Department of Social and Political Sciences at the Universidad del Pacífico (Lima, Peru). Dr. Vergara’s work focuses primarily on representation, accountability, and subnational politics. His research has appeared in numerous academic journals, and he is the author of several books including La Danza Hostil: Poderes subnacionales y Estado central en Bolivia y Perú (1952-2012) (The hostile dance: subnational powers and central state in Bolivia and Peru). During his fellowship, he is focusing on the Peruvian phenomenon of “Fujimorismo” as a way to rethink the relation between democracy and political parties.


2018’s Fall Fellows were:

Dr. Ladan Boroumand
(Iran/United States, October 2018-February 2019)
“Democracy and Secularization: An Iranian Perspective

Ms. Elsa Marie D’Silva
(India, March-July 2019)
“Technology’s Role in Addressing Gender-Based Violence”

Ms. Vera Gogokhia
(Georgia, October 2018-July 2019)
“Youth and Political Parties in Georgia: Bridging the Gap”

Mr. Ko Bo Kyi
(Burma, October 2018-February 2019)
“Prison Reform as a Pre-Requisite to Democratization in Burma”

Prof. Martin Krygier
(Australia, March-July 2019)
“Re-Imagining the Rule of Law”

Mr. Kyrylo Loukerenko
(Ukraine, October 2018-February 2019)
“The Role of Public Media in the Democratic Process: The Case of Ukraine”

Mr. Agon Maliqi
(Kosovo, March-July 2019)
“Building a Constituency for Liberal Democracy in the Western Balkans”

Mr. Joshua Olufemi
(Nigeria, March-July 2019)
“DataPhyte: A Data Journalism Website”

Mr. George Sarpong
(Ghana, October 2018-February 2019)
“Digital Migration and the Democratization of Africa’s Information Space: Threats and Opportunities”

Democracy Resource Center

Library: The Allen Overland Collection

Named in honor of the DRC’s founding librarian and director, the library’s Allen Overland Collection & Archives houses more than 20,000 books, journals, grantee reports, DVDs, and other publications on democracy. The DRC provides a unique collection of materials produced by leading human rights organization, and features works by many of the prominent thinkers within the field of democracy and democracy assistance.

Online Resources

Internet resources created and maintained by the DRC include:

  • Online Catalog: The DRC’s online catalog, WorldCat Discovery, is a single search that connects users to all of the library’s books, articles, DVDs, and more. WorldCat lets anyone build and share lists, contribute reviews, find library items on a mobile phone, or use WorldCat appsin Facebook. Through WorldCat the Democracy Resource Center is connected to a network of 72,000 libraries from 170 different countries and territories. Visit the catalog: ned.worldcat.org.
  • International Democratic Development Database: This database contains information on more than 100 philanthropic organizations that provide grants, fellowships, and awards for groups working in the area of international democratic development.
  • Democracy Research Guide: The guide includes suggested books, journals, websites and organizations on democracy promotion and related topics. The Democracy Research Guide also includes a three-step research tutorial for developing a structured research project.
  • NDRI Digital Library: The NDRI Digital Library on Democracy (DLD) features 4,000 full-text publications produced by Network of Democracy Research Institute (NDRI) member institutions. This online library provides scholars, activists, and others interested in democracy promotion and related issues with access to an online repository of materials, many produced by new think tanks in developing and transitional countries.

Report of the Independent Auditors

Report of the Independent Auditors

We have audited the accompanying financial statements of National Endowment for Democracy (the Endowment), which comprise the balance sheet as of September 30, 2018, and the related statements of activities and cash flows for the year then ended, and the related notes to the financial statements.

Management’s Responsibility for the Financial Statements

Management is responsible for the preparation and fair presentation of these financial statements in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America; this includes the design, implementation and maintenance of internal control relevant to the preparation and fair presentation of financial statements that are free from material misstatement, whether due to fraud or error.

Auditor’s Responsibility

Our responsibility is to express an opinion on these financial statements based on our audit. We conducted our audit in accordance with auditing standards generally accepted in the United States of America and the standards applicable to financial audits contained in Government Auditing Standards, issued by the Comptroller General of the United States. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements are free from material misstatement.

An audit involves performing procedures to obtain audit evidence about the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements. The procedures selected depend on the auditor’s judgment, including the assessment of the risks of material misstatement of the financial statements, whether due to fraud or error. In making those risk assessments, the auditor considers internal control relevant to the entity’s preparation and fair presentation of the financial statements in order to design audit procedures that are appropriate in the circumstances, but not for the purpose of expressing an opinion on the effectiveness of the entity’s internal control. Accordingly, we express no such opinion. An audit also includes evaluating the appropriateness of accounting policies used and the reasonableness of significant accounting estimates made by management, as well as evaluating the overall presentation of the financial statements.

We believe that the audit evidence we have obtained is sufficient and appropriate to provide a basis for our audit opinion.


In our opinion, the financial statements referred to above present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of National Endowment for Democracy as of September 30, 2018, and the changes in its net assets and its cash flows for the year then ended in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.

Report on Summarized Comparative Information

We have previously audited the Endowment’s 2017 financial statements, and we have expressed an unmodified opinion on those audited financial statements in our report dated January 12, 2018. In our opinion, the summarized comparative information presented herein as of and for the year ended September 30, 2017, is consistent, in all material respects, with the audited financial statements from which it has been derived.

Other Reporting Required by Government Auditing Standards

In accordance with Government Auditing Standards, we have also issued our report dated January 2019, on our consideration of the Endowment’s internal control over financial reporting and on our tests of its compliance with certain provisions of laws, regulations, contracts and grant agreements and other matters. The purpose of that report is to describe the scope of our testing of internal control over financial reporting and compliance and the results of that testing, and not to provide an opinion on internal control over financial reporting or on compliance. That report is an integral part of an audit performed in accordance with Government Auditing Standards in considering the Endowment’s internal control over financial reporting and compliance.


Washington, D.C.
February 13, 2019

Link to Balance Sheet