2019 Annual Report
From the President
The past year, like the entire dispiriting decade that has now ended, was a time of deep concern for the future of democracy. Political rights and civil liberties declined for the 14th consecutive year, according to latest Freedom House survey, and the negative global trends that have accounted for the current democratic recession showed no signs of abating. These trends have included the increased belligerence and internal repressiveness of authoritarian regimes in China, Russia, and other countries; the illiberal backsliding in formerly democratic countries like the Philippines, Hungary, and Venezuela; and the crisis of democracy in many Western countries that are beset by the rise of populist and nationalist movements, sharp political polarization, and declining trust in the efficacy of democratic government.
Discouraging as these trends have been, they tell only part of the story. Since the spring of 2018, when authoritarian regimes unexpectedly fell in Ethiopia, Armenia, and Malaysia, grassroots movements of protest against corrupt and unaccountable autocratic governments have swept through many countries. The protests that erupted in Hong Kong and Moscow in the summer of 2019 have received the most attention, but mass protest movements have also broken out in other authoritarian countries such as Iran and Algeria. In Sudan and Bolivia, they have even opened the way to a hopeful, albeit very uncertain, process of democratic transition.
We have therefore entered a period marked by a tension between the global democratic recession and democracy’s surprising resilience. In this new period, we can expect authoritarian regimes to do everything they can to resist pressures for democratic change that they believe threaten their very existence. Since the world’s leading democracies are too preoccupied with their own problems of political division to respond forcefully to the new authoritarian challenge, the NED and its core institutes have an especially vital role to play in defending democratic movements on the frontlines of political change.
In 2019, NED mounted a multi-faceted response to the difficult challenges to democracy in this new period. It has provided a lifeline of support to civil-society activists and independent journalists who are bravely battling to defend human rights and expose official corruption in authoritarian systems in Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and Eurasia. NED has also rushed assistance to political and social groups in newly transitioning countries like Sudan and Ethiopia, even as it has also continued its on-going efforts to support the inevitably protracted process of reform and institution building in other emerging democracies that are trying deliver on the promise of democratic government.
The newest and most complex challenge the NED faces is the battle of technology and information that has become a critical arena of contestation between democracy and authoritarianism. From disinformation and fake news to surveillance and the “end of privacy,” the technology era is unleashing new threats to democracy. Authoritarian regimes understand the power of modern technology, and they are using it to great effect to manipulate and control the information space. Since this same technology also offers a means for underdog civil-society groups to effectively challenge imperious regimes and repressive state institutions, NED’s support for their work will remain a critical priority in the period ahead.
China, Russia, and other authoritarian countries are increasingly collaborating in opposing democracy and constitute what amounts to a de facto authoritarian international. NED and its institutes will need to counter this growing threat by building a stronger international coalition for democracy that is committed to effectively waging the battle of ideas.
This is what President Ronald Reagan called for in his famed Westminster Address, his speech to the British Parliament in 1982 that led to the creation of the NED a year later. One of the most memorable passages in the speech emphasizes the centrality of defending democratic values in promoting democracy. “Our military strength is a prerequisite to peace,” Reagan said, “but let it be clear we maintain this strength in the hope it will never be used, for the ultimate determinant in the struggle that’s now going on in the world will not be bombs and rockets, but a test of wills and ideas, a trial of spiritual resolve, the values we hold, the beliefs we cherish, the ideals to which we are dedicated.”
Many people believe that this competition did not survive the collapse of the Soviet Union, which brought an end to the Cold War – yet the ideological struggle between liberal democracy and authoritarianism did not begin with the Cold War, nor did it end with the collapse of communism. The United States was seen as a champion of liberal values and an opponent of authoritarianism from the moment it rebelled against Great Britain in 1776. It was a beacon of hope for 19th Century European liberals, and it has continued to represent liberal values even after the fall of communism, as people fighting against the world’s many remaining authoritarian regimes have looked to this country for political support and moral solidarity.
The recent global backlash against liberal democracy underlines the continuing importance of NED’s work to the future of freedom in the world. While democracy faces greater dangers than at any time since NED was established more than three decades ago, its continuing resilience shows that these dangers can be addressed and overcome.
The world has reached a fateful juncture. The retreat of democracy could lead to a new era of turmoil and tyranny. Yet democratic renewal is also possible, though it is hard to see how that can happen without the recovery of political will, purpose, and self-confidence in the world’s leading democracies. NED cannot single-handedly determine the outcome of the historic contest that is now underway between democracy and authoritarianism, but it can influence the course of events by empowering frontline democrats and amplifying their voice and impact. This is NED’s mission – supporting the universal aspiration for freedom that both advances America’s national interest and fulfills its highest political ideals. It has never been more important than it is today.
President’s Letter Photo: NED President Carl Gershman speaks with audience members during the 2019 Democracy Awards.
Annual Report Cover Photo: Students participate in an activity at a Democracy Summer Camp run by Nigerian grantee Yiaga Africa in April, 2019. Funded by a NED grant, summer camps held in three Nigerian states focused on preventing youth radicalization and conflict resolution.
Year in Review
In 2019, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) awarded a record 1,684 grants in 97 countries. NED 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 defenders of human and religious rights in China, a celebration of the 30-year anniversary of 1989’s democratic breakthroughs featuring a tribute to Lech Wałęsa, the presentation of the Democracy Service Medal to the late Senator John McCain, and the 2019 Lipset Lecture delivered by Alina Mungiu-Pippidi.
NED’s International Forum for Democratic Studies provided incisive research and analysis on democratic development and progress through the publication of the quarterly Journal of Democracy, independent research papers, and books. The Forum also hosted 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 and promoting democracy worldwide. Learn more about the International Forum’s work in 2019.
NED’s Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) worked to bolster the media’s essential role in sustaining democracy and improve the effectiveness of aid for media development. CIMA conducts research on the major issues affecting global media today, provides a platform for discussion on best practices in media development, and convenes donors, implementers, academics, journalists, and other stakeholders to help them collaborate and act strategically. Learn more about CIMA’s work in 2019.
NED’s Penn Kemble Democracy Forum connected dozens of rising foreign policy professionals with the work of NED and provided an opportunity for bipartisan conversation with experts and activists on the role of democracy and human rights and their connections to a range of policy issues. Learn more about the Penn Kemble Forum’s 2019 class.
The National Endowment of Democracy thanks its grantees and partners all over the world for their support in 2019. Read on to learn more about our work during this eventful year.
Photo: A young woman leads a discussion group in a working space created by NED grantee Teple Misto in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine.
Board of Directors
Marylin Carlson Nelson
- Anne Applebaum
- Karen Bass
- James Boland
- William J. Burns
- Marlene Colucci
- Eileen Donahoe
- Michele Dunne
- Daniel Fried
- Francis Fukuyama
- Barry Jackson
- Tim Kaine
- Jayne Kurzman
- Mel Martinez
- Victoria Nuland
- Dayton Ogden
- Fred Redmond
- Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
- Peter Roskam
- Ben Sasse
- Nadia Schadlow
- David Skaggs
- Elise Stefanik
- Linda Thomas-Greenfield
- Richard Verma
- Melanne Verveer
- George Weigel
- Ken Wollack
- Elliott Abrams (on leave)
- 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
In 2019, democracy made dramatic progress in Ethiopia and Sudan, but suffered setbacks in the Sahel region, Tanzania, and Burundi. Ethiopia sought to consolidate the democratic reforms initiated by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in the face of ethnic conflict. NED partners worked to change repressive laws, rebuild Ethiopia’s independent media and civil society, and increase respect for human rights, peace, and youth inclusion. NED grantee the Peace and Development Committee (PDC) held a 2019 conference in Addis to allow stakeholders to assess the challenges for democratic advancement and human rights in the country.
Sudan’s democratic revolution led to massive peaceful protests starting in December 2018 and continuing for months. Eventually, this movement ended the 30-year dictatorship of Omar al-Bashir and led to the formation of a transitional government that will remain in place until planned democratic elections in 2022. Building on its longstanding program in Sudan, NED deployed support to 17 new partner organizations working to strengthen reforms, carve out new space for civil society and the independent media, and reassert human rights.
Elsewhere, trends were less encouraging. Across the Sahel region, terrorist violence combined with poor governance led to hundreds of deaths and thousands of refugees. The National Democratic Institute convened civil society, think tanks, and governments to address the underlying causes of violence in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger.
Nigeria’s February elections were marred by violence and logistical failures, and across the country terrorist violence escalated while corruption, economic stagnation, and human rights abuses persisted. A post-election event at NED, co-sponsored by the Ford Foundation and moderated by NED board member Linda Thomas-Greenfield, warned of the increasing power of the military. NED’s 18 Nigerian partners continued the fight for greater inclusion and accountability. The Endowment also supported human rights activists in Guinea and Togo and extended its support in Burundi, where abuses escalated during the run-up to the 2019 elections. NED partners promoted dialogue and human rights in Cameroon, where the gerontocratic autocracy of Cameroon faced challenges from jihadists and Anglophone separatists.
In Tanzania, Zambia, and Malawi, governments once regarded as democratic repressed civil society, the media, and political opposition. NED expanded its programs in these countries to help partners restore democratic norms. In Zimbabwe, NED partners such as the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, Magamba Network, and the Information for Development Trust advocated for reform and freedom of expression. In Uganda, the Open Space Center and Human Rights Network for Journalists trained youth for political action and defended press freedom. A new government in the Democratic Republic of the Congo proved weak and ineffectual in stopping the ongoing violence and human rights abuses in the country. NED’s 30 partners in the country continued to press for greater accountability, and groups such as Solidarité sans Frontierès intervened to halt the killing and other abuses in the eastern part of the country.
Photo: Participants of the 2019 Tanzania Bora youth initiative
To learn more and to see a detailed list of our grantees, please visit the NED website.
Africa At a Glance
A visual essay showing the 2019 work of NED’s remarkable partners throughout Africa.
In Focus: Sudan
NED grantee Gisa Group reported on human rights abuses and fostered civic engagement among Sudanese youth during Sudan’s revolution.
A Year in Review
Asia Regional Overview
Disturbing anti-democratic trends expanded in scope and severity in Asia during 2019, which spurred NED to concentrate over 80 percent of its resources in five key countries. In China, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) under Xi Jinping continued its crackdown on Chinese civil society and assault on Tibetans and Uyghurs while ratcheting up threats to Taiwan. Ethnic conflict, genocidal policy against the Rohingya, and attacks on the media and dissent have darkened the hope and optimism of the mid-2010s in Burma. In Thailand, five years of military rule have severely undermined civil and political rights. In Pakistan, despite a peaceful post-election transfer of power, space for civil society has been shrinking and international donors have been retreating as work becomes more difficult. North Korea remains the most closed country in the world, even as the United States and South Korea reengage with the North. Although prospects for democratic development seem bleak in all five countries, there opportunities to advance key democratic objectives continue to exist.
In the past few years, the Endowment has engaged in broad efforts to support democratic unity and cooperation throughout the region, working with partners in Asia’s strong democratic countries: India, Indonesia, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea. Stakeholders in Asia, from civil society to think tanks to governments, are increasingly recognizing the need to protect and uphold democratic values, rule of law, and rules-based institutions and push back against the growing illiberal trends. To encourage and support these initiatives, the NED and its core institutes sought to strengthen intellectual and policy frameworks in 2019 and build support among key stakeholders in each country to ensure that grantee efforts are deeply rooted, locally driven and broad in scope.
NED also addressed the alarming rise of attacks on religious and ethnic minorities, including China’s mass warehousing of Uyghurs and repression in Tibet, Burma’s expulsion of the Rohingya and wars against the Kachin and Shan, and attacks on religious minorities in Vietnam, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. These attacks not only threaten the targeted minorities, but also fuel the rise of illiberal and intolerant political movements. The Endowment supported a wide variety of efforts focused on documenting the ongoing human rights abuses, advocating for an end to the abuses at the domestic and international levels, promoting respect for basic rights and accountability for past atrocities, and encouraging constitutional reform and transitional justice.
The Endowment also emphasized support for countries where historic 2019 elections presented opportunities for democratic gains: Malaysia and the Maldives. In both countries, NED and its core institutes worked to capitalize on these openings and support long-standing partners’ work to solidify and expand the democratic space. These exciting projects included technical assistance for the new parliaments, efforts to expand decentralization, and initiatives to make both government officials and NGO representatives more inclusive and responsive to their constituents.
The Endowment also worked to deepen its engagement in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines, countries that were once among the more liberal and democratic in their respective sub-regions. Despite relentless efforts to undermine democratic institutions and norms, the strong and vibrant civil societies working in these countries – including parties, media organizations, business associations, and unions – continue working to reinvigorate and mobilize pro-democracy forces, bolstered by NED resources.
NED’s Asia program also developed a new network of strategic partnerships in regions across the globe to better understand and respond to Chinese efforts to erode democratic norms and values, which have had ripple effects in Latin America, Africa, and East and Central Europe.
Photo: Transitional Justice Working Group Executive Director Hubert Lee gives opening remarks at a launch event of its survey report, “Exploring Grassroots Transitional Justice: North Korean Escapee Views on Accountability for Human Rights Abuses,” on February 26, 2019, in Seoul, South Korea.
To learn more and to see a detailed list of our grantees in Asia, please visit the NED website.
In Focus: North Korea
NED grantees worked to empower North Korean defectors in 2019 who advocated for human rights in North Korea through educational programs on democratic institutions and values.
In Focus: Tibet
NED grantee the Tibet Action Institute (TAI) brought together Tibetan activists and technology experts to develop and implement programs to advance human rights in the region in 2019.
Central and Eastern Europe:
A Year in Review
Central and Eastern Europe Regional Overview
In 2019, Europe marked the 30th anniversary of the collapse of the communist bloc. It also saw, in the eyes of international observers , a tenth year of rapid democratic decline throughout Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe. Public dissatisfaction with the fairness, pace, and outcomes of the post-1989 changes has led to the election of populists and strongmen who promised change for the better but have largely failed to deliver. The centralization of power by populists and nationalists has led to growing political, social and ethnic polarization, a rise in autocratic tendencies, pervasive corruption, and weakened rule of law.
Governments and oligarchs have captured most mass media, while pressure on journalists and activists who challenged their illicit activities intensified. Public confidence in democratic institutions and the political establishment declined, weakening traditional political parties. Throughout the region, citizens – especially younger generations – expressed disillusionment with electoral politics and pessimism about their quality of life. As a result, many continued to emigrate to Western Europe while those that remained were more likely to take to the streets to express their frustration. Authoritarian governments continued to employ disinformation and other malign influence to stoke discontent and exacerbate social and political divisions.
With the region’s democratic deficit and public protests growing, NED supported civil society and independent media organizations that hold officials, political parties, and governments accountable for their promises and performance and fight against pervasive corruption. To push for greater accountability and counter a polarized and narrowing media space, NED continued to devote significant assistance to supporting independent media and investigative journalism groups.
NED expanded its support for initiatives that analyze, spotlight and counter foreign malign influence, particularly disinformation and corrosive capital. These factors previously undermined the region’s democratic transitions, European integration, and Trans-Atlantic partnership. NED invested in technology tools that help democrats investigate abuses of power, combat corruption, and counter disinformation. NED and its core institutes also supported political party cooperation and historical reconciliation programs.
Given its size and importance for the Europe region, Ukraine was the top priority for NED in 2019. NED also focused on countries where democratic transitions are uncertain, such as Moldova, and those with new political openings, including North Macedonia and Kosovo. Countries with repressive or dysfunctional governments, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belarus and Serbia, also remained a priority. NED continued its reengagement in Central Europe, increasing regional programs and trans-regional initiatives.
Photo: Viewers gather for a debate watch party and discussion at the Teple Misto flagship restaurant in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine.
To learn more and to see a detailed list of our grantees in Central and Eastern Europe, please visit the NED website.
In Focus: Teple Misto
Founded in the wake of the Euromaidan, Teple Misto (Warm City) has pioneered sustainable activism in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine and turned the city into an internationally recognized success story of democratic reform.
Youth Initiative for Human Rights
The Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR) is a network of five youth branches operating in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, and Serbia, with a mission to engage youth to work together to protect human rights and prevent the reemergence of ethnic conflict. YIHR supports war victims throughout the former Yugoslavia and has organized dozens of regional exchanges between journalists, artists, activists, and youth.
A Year in Review
Eurasia Regional Overview
In 2019, the Eurasia region continued to struggle with powerful authoritarian trends, but key countries saw opportunities for democratic progress. , Many incredible civil society organizations, including NED grantees, succeeded in shaping positive political developments throughout the region despite crackdowns that placed constant strain on activists
Russia remained NED’s top priority. A growing network of grassroots movements pushed back against the regime’s agenda, and the Russian government responded to public pressure with campaigns addressing topics as diverse as pension reform, corruption, and environmental issues. The Endowment prioritized support for programs that channeled this new grassroots energy into sustained civic organization.
Despite the Kremlin’s clumsy attempts to regulate the internet, the digital space remained largely free and served as an important platform for civic mobilization and access to independent information. The Endowment supported initiatives to promote a free and open internet, support innovative use of technology for investigative journalism, and use social media to deliver information. Endowment programs also supported efforts to shine a light on the kleptocratic practices of Russia’s ruling class.
In Central Asia, taking advantage of the opening in Uzbekistan remained a high priority for the Endowment. NED focused its resources on programs aimed at developing a new generation of civic and political activists, increasing support for the defense and monitoring of fundamental human rights, and strengthening the capacity of academic and policy experts to contribute to the democratic reform process. NED also supported civil society’s efforts to promote democratic development in the Kyrgyz Republic through 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 by monitoring and documenting human rights abuses, supporting the ability of civil society to remain active and engaged, and raising international awareness of ongoing government repression.
Photo: Bridge of Peace in Tbilisi, Georgia.
To learn more and to see a detailed list of our grantees, please visit the NED website.
In Focus: Armenia
Since the 2018 revolution in Armenia, NED grantees have shifted their focus from holding a corrupt regime accountable to supporting governance reform. The Armenian Institute of International and Security Affairs worked to strengthen ties between government and civil society.
In Focus: The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy
The push for reform in Georgia gained new momentum in 2019 following widespread protests. The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy, a longtime NED grantee, has been at the forefront of developing and advocating for change in the country’s electoral system.
Latin America and Caribbean:
A Year in Review
Latin America & Caribbean Regional Overview
The Latin America and Caribbean region saw a rapidly changing political environment in 2019. While the more stable democracies in the region faced new challenges, Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua further entrenched authoritarian rule. Two of the region’s largest countries, Brazil and Mexico, elected new presidents in 2018 who ushered in many policy changes in 2019. The electorates in both countries expressed dissatisfaction with traditional parties and elites and frustration with pervasive and high-level corruption.
Elsewhere in the region, countries continue to face pervasive corruption and impunity. Newly engaged and hyper-connected citizens made their voices heard in physical and digital space, demanding accountability, improved governance, and greater security. In response to new challenges in the hemisphere’s largest democracy, NED opened a portfolio in Brazil focused on promoting political dialogue and tolerance and strengthening civil society’s capacity to counter potential democratic backsliding.
The political and security situation in the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador continued to have an impact far beyond the sub-region. Violence, poverty, and impunity remained major drivers of migration, not only to the US but also to Mexico and other neighboring countries. NED expanded programs in the Northern Triangle to analyze and respond to shared democratic challenges and strengthen political accountability and citizen oversight, especially of public security policies.
NED continued to focus most of its resources on the most difficult cases in the region: Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua. In Cuba, President Miguel Díaz-Canel, Castro’s handpicked successor, advanced a constitution that had a veneer of reform but further entrenched one-party control, recognized socialism as the only legitimate form of government, and severely restricted any form of independent organizing. In Venezuela, inflation was over 9500 percent in 2019, and the humanitarian crisis that has already pushed more than 3 million Venezuelans to leave the country continued. In Nicaragua, the government repressed pro-democracy protesters and civil society activists swiftly and severely, resulting in more than 400 people killed and more than 600 jailed as political prisoners. In all three countries, NED supported programs to sustain civil society, monitor and denounce human rights violations, and bring international attention to these repressive regimes. NED prioritized support for organizations working to overcome media censorship, promote collaboration across sectors and actors, and gain access to international human rights mechanisms.
Bolivia held a presidential election in late 2019 in an uncertain, contentious atmosphere. President Evo Morales sought a fourth term despite a constitutional prohibition and losing a popular referendum to enable reelection, and was ultimately pressured to resign. Because of this fraught election and the resulting civil unrest, NED deployed support to promote citizen election monitoring in 2019.
Programming in Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and Paraguay focused on improving accountability and curbing corruption, especially through investigative journalism and increased civic engagement. In Ecuador, NED took advantage of a new political opening to support civil society oversight of institutional reforms. A reduced portfolio in Haiti will focus on promoting human rights and raising awareness about corruption.
Photo: A training on the Organization of American States for members of NED grantee the Network of Afro-Latina, Afro-Caribbean and Diaspora Women, in Cali, Colombia in 2019.
To learn more and to see a detailed list of our grantees, please visit the NED website.
In Focus: Countering Violence Against Women in Mexico
As Mexico continued to battle a grim epidemic of violence against women, NED grantee Comunicación e Información de la Mujer, Asociación Civil (Communication and Information for Women, or CIMAC) made great strides in bringing gender-balanced perspectives to media and elevating women’s voices.
In Focus: Somos CDC’s Fight for LGBTI Representation in Honduras
Centro para el Desarrollo y la Cooperación LGBTI (Center for LGBTI Development and Cooperation, or Somos CDC) continued its fight for inclusion and the respect of human rights of LGBTI people and other marginalized communities throughout Honduras.
Middle East and North Africa:
A Year in Review
Middle East and Northern Africa Regional Overview
The political, economic and security situation in the Middle East and Northern Africa region remained dire in 2019, and prospects for democratic progress and reform were challenged by ongoing conflict, violent extremism, and authoritarianism. The need for security and stability overshadowed discussions and efforts for political reform or liberalization in almost every country, while ineffective governance shook public confidence in democratic institutions and policies.
In 2019, NED’s invested significantly in programs in Afghanistan and Iraq. Both countries have made progress in developing democratic political institutions but continue to face myriad challenges, including ethnic and sectarian divisions, weak accountability and governance, and ongoing violence.. Both countries held elections in 2019, however there was widespread mistrust in the electoral process. NED partners worked to strengthen accountability and governance, support independent media, bridge differences between communities, and include marginalized groups decision making.
Tunisia was the only country that continued to take steps towards democratization eight years after the Arab Spring uprisings across the region. In 2019, NED partners worked to facilitate and promote the development of inclusive policies and participatory governance practices. In addition, because deteriorating economic conditions threaten to undermine support for the transition, NED also explored support for the economic reform agenda.
NED partnered with civil society organizations in key regional powers that often undermine democratic reforms in the region. Egypt and Turkey continued to shift toward authoritarianism, but the civil societies remained resilient, adapting to new restrictions . NED supported efforts to push back against increasing authoritarianism and protect civic space in both countries, including freedom of association and independent media. Iran and the Gulf States also remained highly repressive toward civil society in 2019. Though these countries are inhospitable for direct assistance, NED supported human rights defenders and organizations operating in exile that worked to provide alternatives to official state narratives.
In conflict-torn countries including Syria, Libya, and Yemen, NED directed support to identify and strengthen independent civic groups. This included developing independent media capacity, strengthening local government institutions in the absence of functioning national level government, and promoting pluralism among divided and polarized communities.
Finally, NED supported regional programs to strengthen emerging networks and build local and sectoral capacities in conflict zones, provide technical expertise on democratic reforms, build bridges between divided communities, support human rights defenders, and address weaknesses in governance and public institutions.
Photo: Young women lead local policy debates organized by the General Union of Cultural Centers, a NED grantee, in Gaza City in 2019.
Visit the NED website to read more and see a full list of grantees in the MENA region.
In Focus: Safeguarding Democratic Gains in Afghanistan
In 2019, as the US government held peace talks with the Taliban, civil society actors in Afghanistan redoubled their efforts to ensure that any agreement would preserve the country’s democratic gains and protect human rights for all Afghans. NED supports civil society organizations promoting women’s representation in the peace process and independent media organizations.
In Focus: Tunisia
NED grantees the Chahed Observatory for Monitoring Elections and Supporting Democratic Reform and the Arab Network for Democratic Elections worked tirelessly for freedom and fairness in Tunisia’s historic 2019 legislative and presidential elections.
A Year in Review
Global Regional Overview
Democratic actors confronted a range of complex challenges in 2019, and these challenges are not always confined to a single country or region. Advocates around the world are grappling with democratic backsliding and tightening authoritarian control. In countries transitioning to democracy, reform champions in government and civil society struggle to build on the momentum of their democratic transitions and create inclusive, responsive institutions for effective governance and accountability. The global struggle for democracy increasingly needs cross-border movements and international efforts to reaffirm democratic values and norms, build capacity in democratic movements, and explore innovative responses to new challenges.
The Global program at NED supports initiatives that span multiple regions and complement the country-level work of activists. The program leverages the work conducted in multiple regions to address crosscutting challenges and reinforce the work of partners to strengthen human rights, democratic governance, political processes, independent media, freedom of association, and market-oriented reform. The program enables activists to learn from one another, share technical expertise on a larger scale, foster solidarity, and collaborate on key areas of advocacy to strengthen democracy.
Photo: NED’s grantee, the Global Fund for Media Development (GFMD), held its 2019 Global Conference for Media Freedom in London. GFMD Executive Director Mira Milosevic leads a panel discussion with media experts.
To learn more and to see a detailed list of our grantees, please visit the NED website.
In Focus: Fundacja ePanstwo
Technology has created a more open environment and new platforms that can be harnessed to engage citizens in innovative ways. However, governments and representative institutions around the world often struggle to adapt to rapid technological change. NED supports the Poland-based Fundacja ePanstwo (EPF) and the Code for All network to foster the development of new civic tech tools.
Global Forum for Media Development
NED supports the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD), an international network with a mission to enable coordination and cultivate a strong, independent, and pluralistic media environment.
Center for International Media Assistance
A Year in Review
Center for International Media Assistance
2019 was a year of unprecedented challenges for independent news media around the world. Press freedom has fallen to its lowest point in over a decade, and the media system battles declining revenue, waning audience trust, disinformation and distrust, and government crackdowns. The Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) at NED works to bolster the essential role that the media plays in sustaining democracy. CIMA works with donors, implementers, and civil society actors to gather knowledge and discuss best practices to better assist media development around the world. Through its research and events, CIMA works to grow media development expertise by highlighting new voices and encouraging strategic collaboration.
In 2019, CIMA participated in several high level international conferences. In January, CIMA partnered with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency to convene a two-day meeting on media development with multilateral, bilateral, and private donors. Over fifty donor representatives and media experts analyzed current approaches to the media crisis and identified concrete steps for coordination and shared learning moving forward. The participants agreed to convene again at the Global Conference for Media Freedom in July. In May, CIMA pressed for high level political support for independent media at the 2019 Open Government Partnership Global Summit, together with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.
CIMA also worked at the regional and national levels to build opportunities for coordination and exchanges. CIMA held the fourth in a series of regional consultations in Beirut, Lebanon. Working closely with local partners, CIMA gathered 40 media experts and activists from across the MENA region to identify key priorities and opportunities for collaboration. In addition, a CIMA report on regional approaches in West Africa was strongly endorsed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Ethiopia is one of several countries identified for CIMA’s ongoing research on media freedom and reform in countries with political openings. As Ethiopia’s new government took strides toward greater press freedom and media reform, CIMA worked closely with NED staff and local partners to assist with priority setting, coordination and convening experts at UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day conference in Addis Ababa.
CIMA continues to serve as a critical knowledge hub in the field of media development. In 2019 CIMA launched a book called International Media Development: Historical Perspectives and New Frontiers. The collection brings together researchers and practitioners in the field of media development and focuses on how the international community can continue to support independent media as a key element of democracy and development. Additionally, CIMA-led initiatives like the Open Internet for Democracy strive to promote experts from the Global South on an international stage.
Photo: Louisa Chiang speaks at a NED event in 2019 on “China’s New Media Dilemma.” Ms. Chiang also published a 2019 CIMA Digital Report exploring this issue.
To learn more, please visit the CIMA website.
CIMA's 2019 Events
CIMA convenes panel discussions, working groups, and roundtables featuring practitioners and academics to investigate issues in media development. Event summaries, recordings, and upcoming public discussions can be found on CIMA’s website. Click below to read about some of 2019’s events.
International Forum For Democratic Studies
A Year in Review
International Forum for Democratic Studies Overview
The International Forum for Democratic Studies at the National Endowment for Democracy is a leading center for research, discussion, innovation, 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:
- Publishing the Journal of Democracy, the leading scholarly journal on democratization.
- Organizing fellowship programs for international democracy activists, journalists, and scholars.
- Hosting the Power 3.0 blog and podcast, which explores how savvy authoritarian governments survive and thrive in a globalized information age, and the ways that democracies are contending with this challenge.
- Engaging in research on authoritarian sharp power and democratic resilience as part of an initiative examining authoritarian influence in crucial arenas for the integrity and vibrancy of democratic systems.
- Producing resources on topics relating to transnational kleptocracy, defending the integrity of the information space, authoritarian influence, and democracy and civil society
- Coordinating the Network of Democracy Research Institutes (NDRI), a global think tank network.
The Forum supports and enhances the work of the Endowment’s grants program and the World Movement for Democracy.
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.
Photo: A panel discussion during Forum’s 2019 event entitled “The Struggle to Achieve Public Media Reform in Ukraine.”
Forum's 2019 Research and Conferences Program
Each year the Forum convenes a number of events including international conferences, small seminars, and its annual Lipset Lecture. Click below to read more about the Forum’s conferences and events in 2019.
Colloquium Series and Podcast
The International Forum for Democratic Studies held a 2019 colloquium series featuring topics including democratic resilience, the rule of law, youth engagement and digital freedom. The series accompanied the Forum’s podcasts tied to its Power 3.0 blog, which focused on the ways modern authoritarianism takes advantage of features of open societies.
Journal of Democracy
A Year in Review
The Journal of Democracy, established in 1990, is the world’s leading publication on the theory and practice of democracy, covering diverse topics such as political institutions, parties and elections, civil society, ethnic conflict, economic reform, public opinion, the role of the media, federalism, and constitutionalism.
Each issue includes clusters of essays on topical themes or countries, reviews of important books on democracy, reports on elections worldwide and excerpts from speeches by pro-democracy activists, civil society groups, political leaders and dissidents.
The Journal is written and edited to be understood by the general public while maintaining the highest scholarly standards. The publication attracts authors and readers from all over the world, including academics, statesmen, and leaders of democratic movements. For more information and access to select full-text articles, please visit our website at journalofdemocracy.org.
January 2019 Issue
The January issue featured a cluster of essays on “The Road to Digital Unfreedom,” with an introductory essay by Larry Diamond and contributions from Ronald Deibert on social media, Steven Feldstein on artificial intelligence, and Xiao Qiang on China’s surveillance state. Also in this issue: Wendy Hunter and Timothy J. Power analyzed Jair Bolsonaro’s victory in Brazil’s 2018 presidential election; former Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow Alex Magaisa discussed electoral irregularities and postelection violence in Zimbabwe following the ouster of dictator Robert Mugabe; and Marc F. Plattner examined “Illiberal Democracy and the Struggle on the Right.”
April 2019 Issue
A special set of articles reflected on the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, with contributions from Chinese dissident Wang Dan and Hong Kong activist and law professor Benny Tai. In the 2019 Seymour Martin Lipset Lecture on Democracy in the World, Malaysian parliamentarian and former political prisoner Anwar Ibrahim discussed confronting authoritarianism in Malaysia and beyond. Other highlights included articles by Edward Lemon on autocrats’ abuse of Interpol; NED’s Miriam Lanskoy and Elspeth Suthers on the “Velvet Revolution” in Armenia; and Nate Schenkkan and Sarah Repucci on Freedom House’s global survey for 2018.
July 2019 Issue
The July issue featured six articles analyzing trends in sub-Saharan Africa, with an overview by Peter M. Lewis and essays by E. Gyimah-Boadi on public opinion; Rachel Beatty Riedl and Ndongo Samba Sylla on Senegal; Ayo Obe on Nigeria; Pierre Englebert on the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and Jon Temin and Yoseph Badwaza on Ethiopia. In a pair of essays on Ukraine, NED’s Joanna Rohozinska and Vitaliy Shpak reflected on the presidential election that brought Volodymyr Zelensky to power, and Lucan Ahmad Way assessed challenges to freedom of speech. Also in this issue: Sheri Berman and Maria Snegovaya argued that social democracy’s decline helps explain the rise of populism in Europe, and Milan W. Svolik investigated the perils of polarization.
October 2019 Issue
The main set of articles examined recent elections and rising illiberalism in Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines. Elsewhere in the issue, Cas Mudde, Anna Grzymala-Busse, and Patrick Chamorel each explored aspects of European populism. Other highlights included Rod Alence and Anne Pitcher on South Africa’s successful resistance to state capture; Mai Hassan and Ahmed Kodouda on the Sudanese uprising that ousted longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir; and reflections by Ashutosh Varshney and Yamini Aiyar on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s consolidation of power in India.
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. For the complete list of Journal of Democracy books, please visit www.journalofdemocracy.org/books.
The Journal of Democracy is published quarterly by the Johns Hopkins University Press in January, April, July, and October. One-year print subscriptions are $50 for individuals and $190 for institutions; individual electronic subscriptions with full archive access are $60. For further information, please visit our website at www.journalofdemocracy.org. To subscribe, visit journalofdemocracy.org/subscribe.
Steven R. Levitsky and Lucan A. Way (Co-Chairs)
Donald K. Emmerson
João Carlos Espada
Charles H. Fairbanks, Jr.
Donald L. Horowitz
Terry Lynn Karl
Pratap Bhanu Mehta
Andrew J. Nathan
International Advisory Committee
Hernando de Soto
Saad Eddin Ibrahim
Martin C.M. Lee
Julio María Sanguinetti
Philippe C. Schmitter
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.
L-R: Pedro Villarreal, Jamil Hasanli, Dolgion Aldar, Viktoriya Tyuleneva, Marvi Sirmed, Catherine Kanabahita. Some members of the Reagan-Fascell 2019 class were not photographed to protect them from government retaliation.
Reagan-Fascell fellowships focus on the political, 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.
Click to View 2019 Fellows’ Bios
“Strengthening Human Rights Through Youth Engagement: Views from Mongolia, Uganda, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, and Colombia”
Dolgion Aldar, Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow; Catherine Kanabahita, Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow; Marvi Sirmed, Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow; Viktoriya Tyuleneva, Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow; Pedro V. Villarreal, Reagan-Fascell Democracy fellow (December 10)
“Creating a Resilient and Inclusive Democracy in India”
Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow Elsa D’Silva, with comments by Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Executive Director for the Georgetown Institute of Women, Peace, and Security (July 10)
“The Role of Open Data in Strengthening Nigerian Democracy”
Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow Joshua Olufemi, with comments by Christopher O’Connor, Senior Program Officer for Africa, NED (June 11)
“What’s the Point of the Rule of Law?”
Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow Martin Krygier, moderated by Marc F. Plattner, Co-Editor of the Journal of Democracy (May 22)
“Building Democratic Resilience in the Western Balkans”
Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow Agon Maliqi, with comments by Ivana Cvetkovic Bajrovic, NED; Molly Montgomery, Albright Stonebridge Group; and Jasmin Mujanovic, Author of Hunger & Fury: The Crisis of Democracy in the Balkans (May 2)
“A Crisis of Legitimacy in the Islamic Republic of Iran Forty Years after the Revolution”
Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow Ladan Boroumand, moderated by Marc F. Plattner, Journal of Democracy (February 26)
“Digital Migration and the Democratization of Africa’s Information Space”
Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow George Sarpong, with comments by Nicholas Benequista, Center for International Media Assistance (February 14)
“The Struggle to Achieve Public Media Reform in Ukraine”
Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow Kyrylo Loukerenko, with comments by Joanna Rohozinska, Senior Program Officer for Europe, NED (January 24)
Democracy Resource Center:
A Year in Review
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.
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.
Visit the Democracy Resource Center’s Website for More
World Movement for Democracy
A Year in Review
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 NED facilitates information sharing, networking, and solidarity building to bolster democratic movements and leverage support provided by democracy assistance organizations. The World Movement supports three thematic pillars: Defending democratic space, promoting inclusive governance, and strengthening democratic leadership.
Defending Democratic Space: Civil society activists and everyday citizens increasingly face restrictions on their freedoms to peacefully assemble and associate. Through its defending democratic space initiatives, the World Movement helps civil society understand their rights, facilitates collaboration among civil society activists to reform repressive laws and practices, and highlights stories of activists at risk because of their work.
The World Movement worked closely with activists around the world to strengthen freedom of association and assembly rights at the international and national levels. In March 2019, 25 World Movement participants submitted input to the UN Human Rights Committee to inform a General Comment, an official UN interpretation of international human rights law, on Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which protects the right to peaceful assembly. World Movement Secretariat staff continues to engage in the Committee’s process of drafting the General Comment, which will be binding on signatories of the ICCPR treaty
In January 2019, the World Movement and its partners coordinated consultations for the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in the digital age with civil society, academia, and representatives of the world’s most powerful technology companies in Silicon Valley. The consultation informed a groundbreaking report by the Special Rapporteur that was presented to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2019.
In October 2019, the World Movement connected local civil society organizations in Malaysia with international legal expertise to help the country’s new parliament reform its complex legal regime governing associations. The World Movement also helped participants in Sierra Leone coordinate advocacy against a proposed law that would give the state significant authority over the operations of civil society organizations and implementation of programs in violation of countries international commitments.
Promoting Inclusive Governance: The World Movement aims to strengthen inclusive democratic governance by empowering leaders committed to democratic principles. As part of this effort, the World Movement facilitates effective partnerships between civil society, government, and the private sector and explores constructive ways to enhance political participation to influence policy making and institutional reform.
In 2019, the World Movement launched the Crossover Initiative, focused on providing greater support to civil society activists who assume government positions during and after political transitions. The Crossover Initiative kicked off by surveying over 100 World Movement participants who had or were considering crossing over into government about their experiences and expectations. Results of the survey, resources collected, and dozens of personal stories about crossover experiences are available here.
Strengthening Democratic Leadership: The next generation of democratic leadership plays a crucial role in sustaining and advancing democracy. The World Movement seeks to enhance inter-generational engagement by helping establish spaces for youth to network and learn from each other.
Throughout the year, the World Movement worked closely with African Movement for Democracy (AMD) members, in particular the Gender Centre for Empowering Development (GENCED), Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA), and Democracy Tech Squad, to engage youth in political discussions in new and innovative ways. The AMD conducted the Breaking Barriers West Africa Campaign to enhance young women’s political leadership by connecting young women in West Africa with political aspirations with veteran political actors. The campaign has empowered 2,300 young women who are now interested in running for office. The AMD launched a civic-tech competition to assist five promising young civic-tech experts to develop digital tools and mobile apps to support democracy. Finally, AMD established a working group of musicians and civil society leaders to facilitate cooperation and address challenges to democracy in the region. The working group produced a music album, Music as a Messenger of Democracy, with themes related to democracy to spark public dialogue on these issues.
Photo: The homes of eight members of the #yovotono(#IVoteNo) campaign in Cuba were raided by government officials on February 11, 2019. The World Movement for Democracy supports democratic movements all over the world like #yovotono that reject authoritarian efforts to legitimize their regimes through referendums.
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. Learn more about the many ways you can get involved by visiting the World Movement website.
World Movement Celebrates its 20th Anniversary
The World Movement for Democracy celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2019 with a public celebration and series of events in Malaysia. Guests from all over the world attended panels and workshops exploring how transitioning countries can become resilient democracies.
The World Movement’s Set Them Free campaign builds solidarity among individuals who are unjustly imprisoned for promoting democracy and human rights throughout the world. The campaign raises awareness and mobilizes stakeholders to advocate for imprisoned activists.
Hurford Youth Fellowship
The Hurford Youth Fellowship program highlights the importance of inter-generational dialogue and facilitates the exchange of ideas and experiences between seasoned and emerging leaders.
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, 2019, 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.
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, 2019, 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 2018 financial statements, and we have expressed an unmodified opinion on those audited financial statements in our report dated February 13, 2019. In our opinion the summarized comparative information presented herein as of and for the year ended September 30, 2018, is consistent, in all material respects, with the audited financial statements from which it has been derived.
Emphasis of Matter
As disclosed in Note 1 to the financial statements, the Endowment retrospectively adopted the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issued Accounting Standards Update (ASU) 2016-14, Not-for-Profit Entities (Topic 958): Presentation of Financial Statements of Not-for-Profit Entities. The adoption of this standard resulted in the issuance of the statement of functional expenses and additional footnote disclosures. Our opinion is not modified with respect to this matter.
Other Reporting Required by Government Auditing Standards
In accordance with Government Auditing Standards, we have also issued our report dated April 20, 2020, 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.
RSM vs LLP
April 20, 2020