2019 Annual Report

From the President

Carl Gershman

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.

Carl Gershman

President’s Letter cover image: Carl Gershman is shown speaking at a NED event.

Annual Report front cover image:  Students participant 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 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 2019.

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 2019.

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 2019 class.

The National Endowment of Democracy thanks its grantees and supporters all over the world for its support in 2019, and invites you to read on to learn more about our work during this eventful past year.

Cover image: Participants applaud during the 20th anniversary celebration of the World Movement for Democracy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

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2019 NED Democracy Award - Presented to ChinaAid, the Tibet Action Institute (TAI), and the World Uyghur Congress (WUC).

2019 NED Democracy Award - Presented to ChinaAid, the Tibet Action Institute (TAI), and the World Uyghur Congress (WUC).



Board of Directors


  • Chairman

    Andrew Card

  • Secretary

    Marylin Carlson Nelson

  • Vice Chairman

    David Skaggs

  • Treasurer

    Robert Tuttle

  • President

    Carl Gershman


  • 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

Democracy in Africa 2019 made dramatic progress in Ethiopia and Sudan, but suffered setbacks in the Sahel region, Tanzania, and Burundi, among other nations. In the face of ethnic conflict and an autocratic legacy, Ethiopia sought to consolidate the democratic reforms initiated by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. 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 was proud to support the Peace and Development Committee (PDC), which held a 2019 conference in Addis for stakeholders to assess the challenges for democratic advancement and human rights, as well as to explore potential remedies. The event included remarks by NED’s president, Carl Gershman.

Sudan’s democratic revolution of December 2018 ended the 30-year dictatorship of Omar al-Bashir, leading to massive peaceful protests across the country into 2019 as well as the formation of a transitional government which will lead until democratic elections in 2022. Building on its long-standing 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. They include Gisa Group, the Regional Centre, Nuba Women for Education and Development, Justice Africa, the Darfur Bar Association, and Sudia all contributing to the training, communications, and mobilization of the democratic movement. These organizations will assist Sudan’s ongoing quest for freedom, justice, and peace.

Elsewhere, trends were less encouraging. Across the Sahel region, terrorist violence, fueled by poor governance and local grievances, generated hundreds of deaths and thousands  of refugees. The National Democratic Institute linked 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, even as terrorist and other forms of violence grew, and 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 its fight for greater inclusion and accountability, with the Endowment supporting human rights activists in Guinea and Togo. NED also extended support in Burundi, where abuses escalated during the run-up to the 2019 elections. While the gerontocratic autocracy of Cameroon was buffeted by jihadists and Anglophone separatists, NED partners promoted dialogue and human rights.

In Tanzania, Zambia, and Malawi, governments once regarded as democratic were repressing civil society, media and political opposition. NED expanded its programs in these countries to help partners restore democratic norms. In Zimbabwe and Uganda, governments known for being repressive became even more so, but 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 Zimbabwe; while the Open Space Center and Human Rights Network for Journalists trained political youth and defended freedom of the press in Uganda. A new government in the Democratic Republic of the Congo proved weak and ineffectual in countering the kleptocratic power of its predecessor, and in stopping the ongoing violence and human rights abuses in the east of the country. NED’s 30 partners there continued to press for greater accountability throughout the country, and in the east, groups such as Solidarité sans Frontierès intervened to halt the killing and other abuses.

Cover image: Participants of the 2019 Tanzania Bora youth initiative event pose for a photo together.

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

2019 NED Grants in Africa

A Somali woman is interviewed by NED grantee Radio Daljir.

Africa At a Glance

A visual essay showing the 2019 work of NED’s remarkable partners throughout Africa.

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In Focus: Sudan

NED was proud to support the work of Gisa Group in 2019 as it continued reporting on human rights abuses and fostering civic engagement among Sudanese youth.

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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 of particular concern. In China, Xi Jinping continued his crackdown on Chinese civil society and his 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 has 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 with promises of reform.  Although prospects for democratic development seem bleak in all five countries, there continue to be opportunities to advance key democratic objectives.

In the past few years, the Endowment has engaged in a 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. With a growing recognition of the need to protect and uphold democratic values, rule of law, and rules-based institutions and push back against the growing illiberal trends, stakeholders in Asia, from civil society to think tanks to governments, are beginning to address these challenges. To encourage and support these initiatives, the NED and the core institutes sought to strengthen intellectual and policy frameworks in 2019 and build support among key stakeholders in each country to ensure that these efforts are deeply rooted, locally driven and broad in scope.

NED also continued to address the alarming rise of attacks on religious and ethnic minorities, which threaten not only the targeted minority, but also fuel the rise of illiberal and intolerant political movements.  With China’s mass warehousing of Uyghurs and repression in Tibet, to Burma’s expulsion of Rohingya to wars against the Kachin and Shan, to the attacks on religious minorities in Vietnam, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan, the challenges continued to prove formidable. To address them, the Endowment supported a wide variety of efforts focused on documenting the ongoing human rights abuses, advocating for an end to the abuses on 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, such as 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 newly-formed democratic space. These exciting operations 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 to work to reinvigorate and mobilize pro-democracy forces, bolstered by NED resources.

NED’s Asia program also developed a new network of strategic partnerships in other regions across the globe to better understand and respond to Chinese efforts to erode democratic norms and values, as well as their ripple effects in Latin America, Africa, and East and Central Europe.

Cover image: 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.

2019 NED Grants in Asia

In Focus: North Korea

NED was extremely proud to support organizations working to empower North Korean defectors in 2019, including several where defectors played a leading role in North Korean human rights through educational programs on democratic institutions and values.

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Tibet Action Institute photo

In Focus: Tibet

NED’s 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.

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Central and Eastern Europe:

A Year in Review

Central and Eastern Europe Regional Overview

In 2019, Europe marked the thirty-year anniversary of the collapse of the communist bloc. It also saw, in the eyes of international observers and democracy-centered organizations like The Endowment, 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. While some have been able to deliver economic growth, most economies have remained weak, incomes flat, and unemployment high. The centralization of power by populists and nationalists has led to a growing political, social and ethnic polarization, rise in autocratic tendencies, and 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 throughout the year. A decline in public confidence in democratic institutions and political establishment rapidly weakened traditional political parties. Traditional appeals to liberal democratic ideals, values, and principles have faltered in the face of political movements and parties that exploit deep-seated emotions, fears, and resentments. Throughout the region, citizens – especially younger generations – expressed disillusionment with electoral politics and pessimism about their quality of life. The result is that significant parts of the population continued to emigrate to Western Europe and those that remained were increasingly frustrated and taking to the streets. From abroad, authoritarian governments continued to employ disinformation and other malign influence to stoke discontent and exacerbated social and political divisions.

In response, the Endowment’s primary strategy in 2019 was to promote political accountability and good governance. With the region’s democratic deficit and public protests growing, NED directed support for civil society and independent media organizations that hold officials, political parties, and governments responsible for their promises and performance. These organizations assisted politicians and governments committed to reforms but challenged those that were backsliding. A priority of NED’s accountability programs was the fight against pervasive corruption that plagues every state in the region. 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, which undermined the region’s democratic transitions, European integration, and Trans-Atlantic partnership. NED particularly invested in technology tools that help democrats to investigate abuses of power, combat corruption, and counter disinformation. To mitigate cleavages in the region’s societies, NED and its core institutes supported political party cooperation and historical reconciliation programs.

Given its size and importance for the Europe region, Ukraine remained the top country priority in 2019. NED continued to focus on countries whose transitions initially showed promise but are now uncertain, such as Moldova, and those presenting new political openings, like North Macedonia and Kosovo. Countries with repressive or dysfunctional governments, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belarus and Serbia, remained a priority. NED continued its reengagement in Central Europe, increasing regional programs and trans-regional initiatives that included a European component.

Though the threats to democracy in the region are deep-seated and constantly increasing in the sophistication of its efforts to obstruct progress, NED was overjoyed and proud to observe the progress and signs of hope offered by its grantees throughout Central and Eastern Europe. Please read on to learn about some of their work and its impact in 2019.

Cover image: Viewers gather for a debate watch party and discussion at the Temple Misto flagship restaurant in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine.

2019 NED Grants in Central and Eastern Europe

Temple Misto staff are pictured in the organization's cooperative restaurant, Urban Space 100.

In Focus: Temple Misto

Founded in the wake of the Euromaidan, Teple Misto (Warm City) has pioneered sustainable activism in the Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine and turned the city into an internationally recognized success story of democratic reform.

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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 in dealing with the past and the protection of human rights. YIHR has organized dozens of regional exchanges between journalists, artists, activists, and youth, in addition to supporting war victims throughout the former Yugoslavia in their quest for justice.

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A Year in Review

Eurasia Regional Overview

Although the Eurasia region continued to struggle with powerful authoritarian trends emerging in recent years, 2019 also saw significant new opportunities for democratic progress in key countries. Despite crackdowns placing constant strain on activists working for democratic advancement, NED was thrilled to support many incredible civil society organizations that succeeded in shaping positive political developments throughout the region.

Russia remained NED’s top priority. As the Russian 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. Campaigns addressing topics as diverse as pension reform, corruption and environmental issues showed the Kremlins’ responsiveness (however tentative) to public pressure. The Endowment prioritized support for programs that channeled this new grassroots energy into sustained civic organization.

Despite clumsy attempts to regulate the Internet, the digital space largely remained free and thus was able to serve as an important platform for civic mobilization and access to independent information. The Endowment supported initiatives that 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 analyze and shine light on the kleptocratic practices of Russia’s ruling class and the connections between corruption and human rights abuses, and to support the internationalization of efforts to combat kleptocratic systems.

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. Endowment resources also supported civil society’s efforts to promote the democratic development of the Kyrgyz Republic. NED resources supported activities including public policy debates, civil society oversight of government institutions, and the continued development of political pluralism in the country.

NED also 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.

Cover image: Bridge of Peace in Tbilisi, Georgia.

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

2019 NED Grants in Eurasia
The Armenian Institute of International and Security Affairs - AIISA

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. As the country’s new parliament is increasingly empowered, NED grantee the Armenian Institute of International and Security Affairs served to strengthen ties between government and civil society.

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In Focus: The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy

The push for reform in Georgia gained new momentum following widespread protests in 2019.  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.

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Latin America and Caribbean:

A Year in Review

Latin America & Caribbean Regional Overview

2019 dawned on a rapidly changing political environment in Latin America. Two of the region’s largest countries, Brazil and Mexico, elected new presidents in 2018. Both presidents’ policy changes began to show their influence in 2019. In Mexico, the left-leaning Andres Manuel López Obrador swept through presidential, legislative, and gubernatorial elections. In Brazil, the right-wing candidate Jair Bolsonaro won in an upset. The electorates in both countries expressed dissatisfaction with traditional parties and elites and frustration with pervasive and high-level corruption. While the more stable democracies faced new challenges, Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua further entrenched authoritarian rule.

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 a culture of 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 neighboring countries, especially Mexico. Recognizing the outsize impact of these fragile democracies, 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 hemisphere: Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua. In Cuba, President Miguel Díaz-Canel, Castro’s hand-picked successor, advanced a “new” constitution that further entrenched one-party control (poorly concealed behind a veneer of reform), recognized socialism as the only legitimate form of government, and severely restricted any form of independent organizing. In Venezuela, even the most conservative estimates calculated 1 million percent inflation for 2018, amid a humanitarian crisis that has already pushed more than 3 million Venezuelans to leave the country. In Nicaragua, swift and severe repression against pro-democracy protesters and civil society activists have resulted in over 400 people killed and more than 600 political prisoners. In all three countries, NED supported programs to sustain civil society, monitor and denounce human rights violations, and increase international attention to the regimes. Support was prioritized for organizations working to overcome media censorship, to promote collaboration across sectors and actors, and gaining access to international human rights mechanisms.

Bolivia held a critical presidential election in late 2019 in an atmosphere of uncertainty and contention. President Evo Morales sought a fourth term, despite a constitutional prohibition and losing a popular referendum to enable reelection, though was ultimately pressured to resign after losing the support of the country’s military and law enforcement. Because of this fraught election and the civil unrest it sparked, 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.

Cover image: A training on the Organization of American States for members of NED’s 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.

2019 NED Grants in Latin America and Caribbean

Countering Violence Against Women in Mexico

As Mexico continued to battle a grim epidemic of violence against women throughout 2019, NED was proud to support Comunicación e Información de la Mujer, Asociacion Civil (English: Communication and Information for Women). This civil society organization made great strides in bringing gender-balanced perspectives to media and elevating women’s voices.

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In Focus: Somos CDC’s Fight for LGBTI Representation in Honduras

Investigative journalism is a critical tool for empowering a well-educated and engaged civil society. In Latin America, a region of the world that has been so deeply affected by a deeply entrenched tradition of corruption and criminality, the mandate for journalists is as urgent as it has ever been, which also means the risk to their lives for doing their jobs has seldom been greater.

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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 North Africa 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. Ineffective governance and the failure of states to deliver for their citizens contributed to conditions that fueled conflict and extremism while shaking public confidence in government institutions and policies.

In 2019, NED’s largest country programs in the region were Afghanistan and Iraq. Although both made progress on protecting civil liberties and developing democratic political institutions over the past decade, they continued to face challenges of ethnic and sectarian divisions, weak accountability and governance, ongoing violence, and growing lack of confidence in government institutions. Iraq and Afghanistan held elections in 2019 amid popular mistrust in the electoral process. To restore public confidence in democratic institutions and processes and alleviate inter-communal tensions, NED programs strengthened accountability and governance (including through independent media), and promoted pluralism to bridge differences between communities and include marginalized groups such as youth, women and minorities in policy and decision-making.  

Eight years after the uprisings, Tunisia remained the only Arab Spring country continuing to take steps towards democratization, although deteriorating economic conditions threaten to undermine support for the transition. The new Municipalities Law and local elections in 2018 paved the way for a decentralized approach to governance and economic development. NED partners were well-positioned in 2019 to facilitate and promote the development of inclusive policies and the implementation of participatory governance practices. Given Tunisia’s economic challenges, NED also explored efforts to support the economic reform agenda.

Egypt and Turkey continued to shift toward authoritarianism, yet continued to have resilient civil societies that adapted to a more restrictive environment. Both countries represent important regional powers that exert influence throughout the region, underscoring why it remains critical for NED to continue its support despite challenging operating environments. To that end, NED supported efforts to push back against increasing authoritarianism and protect civic space including freedom of association and independent media throughout 2019.

Iran and the Gulf States also remained hostile to assistance and highly repressive toward civil society. These countries are also key regional powers and influencers that often undermine democratic reform in the region. Though inhospitable for direct assistance, groups operating in exile, including a new generation of activists, demonstrated strong networks and links to democracy advocates within these countries. NED continued to support these human rights defenders and organizations producing or making accessible independent information that provides an alternative to or checks the facts of official state narratives.

As for countries engulfed in conflict, including Syria, Libya and Yemen, NED directed support to identify, strengthen, and position independent civic groups for future roles. This included developing independent media capacities, strengthening local government institutions in the absence of functioning national level government, and promoting pluralism among divided and polarized communities.

Finally, regional programs will strengthen emerging networks and build local and sectoral capacities in conflict zones; provide technical expertise on democratic reforms, including for Tunisia’s transition; promote pluralism and build bridges among communities threatened by divisions; support human rights defenders; and address weaknesses in governance and public institutions.

Cover image: Young women lead local policy debates organized by the General Union of Cultural Centers, a NED grantee, in Gaza City in 2019.

2019 NED Grants in Middle East and North Africa

Journalists are shown at an NAI Supporting Open Media in Afghanistan training event in 2019.

Safeguarding Democratic Gains in Afghanistan

Afghanistan’s nascent democracy remained fragile in 2019, facing challenges from weak governance institutions, declining international support, and the persistence and proliferation of local and regional terrorist groups and anti-democratic forces seeking to reverse the country’s democratic achievements. To address these obstacles, NED grantees in Afghanistan worked to strengthen civil society and elevate the voices of women and other repressed minorities.

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Participants are shown at a 2019 event held by the Arab Network for Democratic Elections.

In Focus: Tunisia

NED was proud to support extraordinary Tunisia-based organizations who worked tirelessly for freedom and fairness in the country’s historic 2019 legislative and presidential elections. Read on to learn about the work of two standouts, the  Chahed Observatory for Monitoring Elections and Supporting Democratic Reform and the Arab Network for Democratic Elections.

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A Year in Review

Global Regional Overview

The challenges to democracy around the world both in 2019 and throughout history serve as a reminder that the global trajectory of democratic change is far from straightforward. The backsliding from democratic norms and the tightening of authoritarian governments’ power around the globe remain a concern. Democratic actors confront a range of restrictions that seek to discredit and criminalize their work. However, even as autocratic regimes maintain their control and expand their arsenal of strategies to curb opposition, there have been a few bright spots in the global struggle for democracy. For instance, in a number of transitioning countries, reform champions in government and civil society continue to build on the momentum of their democratic transitions by undertaking the difficult task of building democratic systems that respond to citizens’ demands for effective governance and accountability and ensuring that the processes to accomplish these objectives are inclusive.

Those working on democracy’s frontlines in the different regions of the world do not have to grapple with all of these varied and complex set of challenges alone. The struggle for democracy increasingly involves cross-border democratic movements and international efforts to reaffirm democratic values and norms, strengthen transparent institutions, and explore innovative responses to new challenges to democratic development.

The Global program supports initiatives that span multiple regions and complement the country-level work of democrats, providing them with opportunities to collaborate with allies to address cross-cutting issues that are best addressed by globalizing their efforts. The program connects activists to learn from one another, share technical expertise developed from country programs on a larger scale, foster solidarity, and collaborate on key areas of advocacy to strengthen democracy.

The Global team’s work aims to strengthen the impact of democracy advocates around the world by enabling them to share their lessons and insights across borders and beyond their regions. The program connects them to one another to learn and share technical expertise, provide solidarity, collaborate on key areas of advocacy, and foster the development and implementation of norms to strengthen democracy. 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.

Cover image: NED’s grantee, the Global Fund for Media Freedom (GFMD), held its 2019 Global Conference for Media Freedom in London. The organization’s Executive Director Milosevic, seated at center, 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

Throughout the world, governments and representative institutions often struggle in adapting to rapid technological change, both in adapting to a more open environment enabled by technology, and in harnessing technology to engage citizens using innovative methods.  Fundacja ePanstwo (EPF), based in Poland, receives Endowment support to strengthen coordination among network members and foster the development of new civic tech tools.

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Global Forum for Media Development

NED supports the Poland-based Global Forum for Media Development’s mission to enable coordination and exchange of information within a robust expert network to cultivate a strong, independent, and pluralistic media environment. Since its founding in 2005, GFMD has been facilitating the engagement of its members on key issues and debates, including those focused on journalism safety, women in media, local and community media, access to information, and best practices in media assistance.

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Center for International Media Assistance:

A Year in Review

Center for International Media Assistance

The world has reached a tipping point in the state of vibrant news media. Press freedom has fallen to its lowest point in over a decade, while the media system as a whole battles declines in revenue, audience trust, and the independence it relies upon. The Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) provides thought leadership to strengthen media systems and bolster the essential role that they play in sustaining democracy. To achieve this, 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.

Government crackdowns, declining revenue, and an environment flush with disinformation and distrust have made the last decade one of unprecedented challenges for independent media around the world. CIMA’s mission continues to be at the forefront of understanding and overcoming these obstacles, from the grassroots to the global stage.

In January, CIMA partnered with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency to convene a two-day meeting of multilateral, bilateral, and private donors to media development. There, 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, including a subsequent convening at the Global Conference for Media Freedom. CIMA further pressed for high level political support for independent media at the 2019 Open Government Partnership Global Summit, together with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.

Throughout, the heart of CIMA’s work called for demand-driven solutions, building exchange and coordination at the regional and national levels. Toward that end, CIMA held the fourth in a series of regional consultations in Beirut, Lebanon, working closely with local partners to gather 40 media experts and activists from across the MENA region to identify key priorities and opportunities for collaboration. The work of previous consultations continues to provide an example for multi-stakeholder efforts toward free and independent press, and the CIMA report on regional approaches in West Africa was strongly endorsed by the Economic Community of West African States.

As Ethiopia’s new government took strides toward greater press freedom and media reform, the sudden influx of international attention and funding highlighted the need for demand-driven priority setting and coordination. CIMA worked closely with NED staff and local partners to convene expert voices at this critical time, alongside discussions at UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day conference held in Addis Ababa. Ethiopia is one of several countries identified for CIMA’s ongoing research on media freedom and reform in times of political openings.

CIMA continues to be a critical knowledge hub in the field of media development, and in 2019 launched International Media Development: Historical Perspectives and New Frontiers, published by Peter Lang. The collection brings together researchers and practitioners to reflect on the field and 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 and convenings at the Internet Governance Forum strive to bolster experts from the Global South on an international stage. Throughout its research and convenings, CIMA works to grow media development expertise through new voices and strategic collaboration.

Cover image: 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.

Center for International Media Assistance 2019

Panelists speak at CIMA's 2019 event entitled "Surveillance for Sale: How China and Russia Export Repression Technology."

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 at CIMA’s website. Click below to read about some of 2019’s events.

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An infographic from a 2019 CIMA publication on media freedom.

CIMA's 2019 Publications

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, or click the button below for a summary of 2019 publication highlights.

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International Forum For Democratic Studies:

A Year in Review


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:

The Forum 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. Larry Diamond and Will Dobson coedit the Journal of Democracy.

Cover image: A panel discussion during Forum’s 2019 event entitled “The Struggle to Achieve Public Media Reform in Ukraine.” L-R: Kyrylo Loukerenko (Ukrainian journalist and 2019 Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow), Dean Jackson (NED staff), and Joanna Rohozinska (NED staff).

International Forum For Democratic Studies 2019

Alina Mungiu-Pippidi delivers the Sixteenth Annual Seymour Martin Lipset Lecture.

Forum's 2019 Research and Conferences Program

Each year the Forum convenes an extensive number of events comprising international conferences, small seminars, and its annual Lipset Lecture, with an eye toward bringing together leading activists and experts across geographic locations and thematic disciplines related to democracy and human rights.

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The Power 3.0 blog was the inspiration for the Forum's rapidly growing podcast.

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, focusing on the ways in which modern authoritarianism takes advantage of the features once chiefly thought to empower democracies.

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Journal of Democracy:

A Year in Review



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 prodemocracy groups worldwide.

The Journal’s authors include eminent social scientists and historians, political luminaries and leaders of democratic movements, and renowned intellectuals. While maintaining the highest scholarly standards, it is written and edited for the general reader as well. A truly global publication, the Journal attracts both authors and readers from all over the world. For more information and access to select full-text articles, please visit our website at journalofdemocracy.org.

In January 2020, the Journal named William “Will” J. Dobson as its new coeditor, succeeding founding coeditor Marc F. Plattner. Most recently NPR’s Chief International Editor, Mr. Dobson has also held senior editorial posts at Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, and Slate. He is the author of The Dictator’s Learning Curve: Inside the Global Battle for Democracy (2012).


January 2019 Issue

The January issue featured a cluster 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 the electoral irregularities and postelection violence that marred Zimbabwe’s first balloting following the ouster of dictator Robert Mugabe; and Marc F. Plattner examined “Illiberal Democracy and the Struggle on the Right.”

April 2019 Issue

APRIL: 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, among others. 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 to explain the rise of populism in Europe, and Milan W. Svolik investigated the perils of polarization.

October 2019 Issue

Our main cluster examined recent elections and rising illiberalism in Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines. Elsewhere in our October 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 by 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. The Journal’s most recent publication, Authoritarianism Goes Global: The Challenge to Democracy (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 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.

Editorial Board

Steven R. Levitsky and Lucan A. Way (Co-Chairs)

Anne Applebaum

Sheri Berman

Nancy Bermeo

Ladan Boroumand

Daniel Brumberg

Thomas Carothers

Yun-han Chu

Michele Dunne

Donald K. Emmerson

João Carlos Espada

Charles H. Fairbanks, Jr.

Abdou Filali-Ansary

Francis Fukuyama

Sumit Ganguly

Bruce Gilley


Donald L. Horowitz

Richard Joseph

Robert Kagan

Terry Lynn Karl

Ivan Krastev

Peter Lewis

Tarek Masoud

Cynthia McClintock

Michael McFaul

Pratap Bhanu Mehta

Leonardo Morlino

Alina Mungiu-Pippidi

Andrew J. Nathan

Ghia Nodia

Minxin Pei

Benjamin Reilly

Olivier Roy

Andreas Schedler

Lilia Shevtsova

Dan Slater

Vladimir Tismaneanu

Laurence Whitehead


International Advisory Committee

Shaul Bakhash

Hernando de Soto

Saad Eddin Ibrahim

Byung-Kook Kim

Martin C.M. Lee

Arend Lijphart

Adam Michnik

Ergun Özbudun

Condoleezza Rice

Julio María Sanguinetti

Philippe C. Schmitter

Natan Sharansky

Lourdes Sola

Hung-mao Tien


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.

Top row, L-R: Dolgion Adar, Jamil Haslami, Catherine Kanabahita. Bottom row, L-R: Marvi Sirmed, Viktoria Tyuleneva, Pedro Villarreal. 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

Dolgion Aldar on Engaging Youth in Democracy | Event Teaser

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Dolgion Aldar on Engaging Youth in Democracy | Event Teaser

Dolgion Aldar on Engaging Youth in Democracy | Event Teaser

Featured Reagan-Fascell Fellowship Events

“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)

Watch the Event

“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)

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“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)

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“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)

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“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)

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“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)

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“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)

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“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)

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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.

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.

Visit the Democracy Resource Center’s Website for More

About the Democracy Resource Center

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About the Democracy Resource Center

About the Democracy Resource Center

World Movement for Democracy:

A Year in Review


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 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.

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, facilitate collaboration among civil society activists to reform repressive laws and practice, and highlights stories of activists at risk because of their work.

The World Movement worked closely with its participants around the world to strengthen freedom of association and assembly rights at the international and national levels. In March 2019, 25 World Movement participants jointly submitted input to the UN Human Rights Committee to inform a General Comment 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. General Comments are official UN interpretations of international human rights law that are binding upon signatories of the ICCPR treaty.

The World Movement and its partners coordinated consultations for the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association on these freedoms in the digital age with civil society, academia, and representatives of the world’s most powerful technology companies in Silicon Valley in January 2019. The consultation informed a groundbreaking report by the Special Rapporteur that was presented to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2019, and has guided further examination of related issues.

In October 2019, the World Movement connected local civil society organizations with international legal expertise to help Malaysia’s new parliament improve its complex legal regime governing associations. Also in October 2019, the World Movement helped participants in Sierra Leone coordinate advocacy against a proposed law that would give the state significant authority over the way civil society organizations operate and how programs are implemented in violation of countries international commitments.

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 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.

The statement “A Call for Democratic Renewal” issued by the World Movement Steering Committee in 2015, called upon the international community to provide greater support to civil society activists who assume government positions during and following political transitions. In 2019, the World Movement begin focusing on this phenomenon concertedly by launching the Crossover Initiative. 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/or 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 mainstream youth issues in its activities while helping establish spaces for youth to network with and learn from each other.

Youth Networks: 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. Among the activities conducted by AMD was the Breaking Barriers West Africa Campaign to enhancing young women’s political leadership by connecting politically aspiring young women in West Africa with veteran political actors to exchange experiences and ideas.  The campaign has empowered 2,300 young women, who are now interested in running for office. The AMD launched a civic-tech competition to engage five promising young civic-tech experts wishing to develop digital tools to support democracy.  In 2020, the competition winners will be assisted in creating mobile apps through the program. Finally, a working group of musicians and civil society leaders was established to facilitate cooperation to address challenges to democracy in the region. The working group produced a music album, Music as a Messenger of Democracy, on themes related to democracy to spark dialogue on these issues among the broader public. The project with the AMD is made possible by generous support from the Ford Foundation.

Cover image: Carl Gershman, President of the National Endowment for Democracy, introduces Anwar Ibrahim, Member of Parliament of Malaysia, at the World Movement’s 20th anniversary celebration on July 9, 2019.

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.

World Movement for Democracy 2019

Celebration of the World Movement’s 20th anniversary in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on July 9, 2019.

World Movement Celebrates its 20th Anniversary

To celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2019, the World Movement for Democracy held a public celebration and event series in Malaysia. Guests from all over the world attended panels and workshops exploring how transitioning countries can become resilient democracies.

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Lilian Lopez, wife of Venezuelan political prisoner Leopoldo Lopez, speaks about her husband's struggle and captivity. Lopez has been one of many political prisoners featured in the World Movement's #SetThemFree campaign.

#SetThemFree Campaign

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, mobilizes others, and engages stakeholders to advocate for imprisoned activists.

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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.

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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, 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.

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, 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.


Washington, D.C.
April 20, 2020

Link to Balance Sheet