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

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(L-R) NED Chairman Andrew Card, Dolkun Isa of the World Uyghur Congress, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Lhadon Tethong of the Tibetan Action Institute, NED President Carl Gershman, and Bob Fu from ChinaAid.

(L-R) NED Chairman Andrew Card, Dolkun Isa of the World Uyghur Congress, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Lhadon Tethong of the Tibetan Action Institute, NED President Carl Gershman, and Bob Fu from ChinaAid.



Board of Directors


  • Chairman

    Andrew Card

  • Secretary

    Marylin Carlson Nelson

  • Vice Chairman

    Martin Frost

  • Treasurer

    Robert Tuttle

  • Vice Chairman

    Vin Weber

  • 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


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


A Year in Review

Africa Regional Overview

In 2017, citizens across Africa took to the streets to demand democracy and an end to the corruption, poor governance, and repression that have robbed them of their rights and left them impoverished.

Elections in Kenya, South Africa, the Gambia, the Central African Republic, Tanzania, Malawi and Ghana all demanded change. Afrobarometer confirms that a formidable majority of Africans desire democracy and reject authoritarian rule, while advances such as social media and economic reform have increased citizens’ power. Yet ongoing challenges in countries such as South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the DRC, Eritrea, Equatorial Guinea, Chad, Niger, and Mozambique remain troubling. Likewise, the fragility of democracy, the threat of poverty, corruption and insecurity, and the enormous task of democratic consolidation has become increasingly apparent in countries such as Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, and Burkina Faso, as well as Liberia, Kenya, and South Africa.

These contending trends, the aspiration for democracy versus its many impediments, characterized the NED program this past year in more than 30 sub-Saharan African countries. NED supported its partners struggling for freedom of expression in Ethiopia; respect for human rights in Sudan; and democratic transition in Zimbabwe. Others helped consolidate a democratic victory in the Gambia, and increase the political participation of women and youth in Nigeria. Citizens of Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire mobilized for peaceful elections. In Rwanda and Uganda, they pressed to expand political space. They confronted corruption in Angola, human rights abuses in Burundi, and conflict in Mali, Somalia, Niger, the Central African Republic and South Sudan. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, nearly 50 NED civil society partners conducted training and civic education on respect for the constitution and free and fair elections. National Democratic Institute (NDI), International Republican Institute (IRI), Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and the Solidarity Center, along with NED’s local partners all came together to engage with the political process in Kenya, where an independent judiciary mediated contested elections.

On a pan-African level, NED supported sub-regional and regional initiatives promoting democratic norms with ECOWAS, SADC, IGAD and the African Union.

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


2019 NED Grants in Africa

In Focus: Sudan

Though Sudan remains one of NED’s most challenging partner countries, the extraordinary work of its grantees in 2017 is a powerful testament to how ordinary citizens can mobilize and bring about meaningful change, even in the most embattled democracies.

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Media Focus on Africa encourages women to run for office; a candidate is pictured at a 2017 event in Kenya.

Media Focus on Africa encourages women to run for office; a candidate is pictured at a 2017 event in Kenya.

In Focus: Kenya

In 2017, Kenya’s national elections tested the nation’s rule of law and electoral management. Concerned citizens and NGOs have successfully resisted government efforts to curb civil society and media rights, but remain on the defensive. NED supported eight civil society organizations whose work reinforced the protection of civil society and media space, in addition to promoting the rule of law and the rights of youth and vulnerable populations.

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Friends of Angola, “Know and Demand Your Rights” launch in Luanda, showing human rights training materials.

Friends of Angola, “Know and Demand Your Rights” launch in Luanda, showing human rights training materials.

In Focus: Angola

NED supported Luanda’s National Counseling Center (NCC) in bringing newly elected members of parliament closer to their constituents, monitoring parliamentary plenaries and holding public debates to make MPs more accountable to citizens. Washington-based Friends of Angola (pictured left) produced radio programs on the 2017 national elections, and released a mobile app to mobilize a maximum of young voters. Perhaps most notably, Angolan journalist and human rights advocate Rafael Marques de Morais received NED’s Democracy Award in 2017.

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Members of a “young democrats” club in a high school in Bangui, the capital of CAR. Club members have been trained on notions of democracy, rights, and the constitution. (Youth on the Move for Development in the Central African Republic, Association Jeunesse en Marche pour le Développement en Centrafrique, AJEMADEC)

In Focus: CAR

In 2017, the Central African government struggled to restore the full authority of the state, even in the areas under its control.

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In Focus: Liberia

The eyes of the world were on Liberia in 2017 as it faced its first democratic transition of power in seven decades. Ten NED grantee organizations fought to ensure the election process was free, fair and democratic.

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In Review

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.

Please read on to learn about some of NED’s extraordinary grantee organizations in Asia, and the courageous and vital work they did in support of democracy in 2019.

BACKGROUND PHOTO: Provided by Tibet Action Institute with NED’s thanks.

NED support in MENA, at a glance.

NED support in MENA, at a glance.

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 play a leading role in North Korean human rights through educational programs on democratic institutions and values.

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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.

2019 NED Grants in Central and Eastern Europe


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

Young people are especially vulnerable to faltering democratic transitions and dire economic prospects in the Western Balkans. Coming of age during a period of war and long-term crisis, and under the impact of intense ethnonationalism from both political elites and government controlled media, youth in the former Yugoslavia have grown more intolerant of their peers from different backgrounds or beliefs.

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NED grantee BIRN organized candidates debates in Kosovo and Macedonia ahead of the 2017 elections, drawing nearly 5 million viewers.

Mayoral Debates

Although most governments in the Western Balkans are nominally committed to Euro-Atlantic integration, many are not undertaking the necessary democratic reforms in earnest.

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A man attends a People and Kilometers photo exhibit in Chișinău, Moldova.

In Focus: Moldova

Launched in 2016 by two female reporters who are graduates of the NED-supported School of Advanced Journalism in Chisinau, the Moldovan portal Oameni si Kilometri (People and Kilometers) shines a critical light on the human toll of government corruption in Europe’s poorest country.

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A photo from the GLOBSEC 2017 Forum in Bratislava, Slovakia.


Since its 2014 invasion of Ukraine, the Russian government has carried out an orchestrated campaign of disinformation and malign influence that seeks to divide the Transatlantic Alliance, undermine the EU, block European integration, and destabilize new democracies in the region.

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A Year in Review

Eurasia Regional Overview

In 2017, the negative trends of the last several years in the Eurasia region continued to intensify, making democracy support work increasingly difficult and dangerous; from the closure of political space to the aggressive spread of authoritarian and illiberal messages, the necessity of the work conducted by NED grantees is more vital than ever.

Many countries continued to experience serious economic problems, stemming partly from the low price of oil and partly from the ripple effects of Russia’s economic downturn. As the recession in Russia led to budget cuts and social discontent at home, the downturn also had regional implications. Almost everywhere in Eurasia, there was a pessimistic atmosphere, continued repression of civil society, and the possibility of civil unrest, or armed conflict. The Kyrgyz Republic’s democratic gains since 2010 were partly reversed; in Tajikistan, the government banned the only moderate Islamic political party in the post-Soviet space and labeled it an extremist terrorist organization, while simultaneously increasing pressure on civil society and independent media. Even in the Caucasus, Russian disinformation won support among some segments of the population, while recruitment for ISIS grew among others. In this environment, the work of civil society was more critical than ever as a bulwark against repression, radicalization, and instability.

The Endowment prioritized countries in Eurasia that faced the greatest democratic deficits and where NED was positioned to have the greatest impact. Building upon its strategy from previous years, NED continued to concentrate on key countries within each sub-region that faced significant and systemic challenges to democratization – Russia, Georgia in the South Caucasus, and the Kyrgyz Republic in Central Asia. Elsewhere, NED continued to support activists and organizations facing significant pressure and persecution, including in Russia, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. Finally, NED targeted resources in countries where new developments presented opportunities for democratic gains, such as Armenia and Uzbekistan.

While the environment for civil society remains very difficult throughout Eurasia, the Endowment’s priority is to sustain and support our partners through this critical period, allowing them to plan and prepare to take greatest advantage of any future openings.

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

2019 NED Grants in Eurasia

Radio Nor volunteers conduct live program on European integration taking calls from radio listeners and responding to questions

The State of Eurasian Media

For the Eurasia region, support for independent media and internet freedom remained a key priority in 2017. The Endowment supported 37 projects to produce accurate independent reporting on significant issues affecting the public and to protect an open and secure internet.

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Election Monitoring in Armenia

Armenia’s April 2017 parliamentary elections were marred by vote-buying, pressure on voters, and the abuse of administrative resources. NED grantees performed various roles during the 2017 parliamentary election season, including election monitoring, investigative reporting, news coverage, and human rights activism. Since 2013, the Endowment has been supporting Transparency International AntiCorruption Center (TIAC) to spearhead a coalition of organizations monitoring Armenian elections and reporting on the violations.

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Latin America and Caribbean

In Review

Regional Overview

Latin America & Caribbean

2019 dawned on a rapidly changing political environment in Latin America. Brazil and Mexico, two of the largest countries in Latin America, elected new presidents the previous year, whose 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 cucurbingrb 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.

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

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2019 NED Grants in Latin America and Caribbean

Microjusticia Guatemala promotes political participation in rural and indigenous communities; a 2017 community event is pictured.

In Focus: Guatemala

The nation of Guatemala has for years been plagued by government corruption and chaos, with international headlines everywhere reporting on mismanagement and sordid financial dealings by the nation’s leadership. Transparency International, an organization which ranks all nations by their level of corruption and lack of transparency, placed Guatemala at a dismal 123 out of 167 countries ranked. Most notably, in 2015, then-President Otto Perez Molina was pressured to resign after news broke of his arrest on corruption, illicit association, and bribery charges associated with a multi-million dollar customs scam.

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A Consejo de Redacción event in 2017.

Investigative Journalism

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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A Fundación Ciudadano Inteligente event in Chile in 2017.

Political Innovation

Political polarization, structural challenges such as inequality and low productivity, coupled with emerging challenges such as organized crime and widespread corruption are major threats to democratic governance in Latin America. As a result, it has been a huge challenge to get civil society, government leaders, policy thought leaders, and other relevant stakeholders to come together.

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Middle East and North Africa

A Year in Review

Regional Overview

In most countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), prospects for democratic progress and reform remained challenged by mounting turmoil, conflict, and terrorism. The need for security and stability dominated, sidelining discussions and efforts for political reform or liberalization in almost every country. Despite instability and increasingly repressive environments, civil society throughout MENA continued to demonstrate a resounding resilience and commitment to reform.

Afghanistan and Iraq remained high NED priorities as international support to civil society in those countries continued to diminish. NED supported groups working for reform and challenging the idea that security and democracy work at counter purposes. In countries with a degree of civic space and an established civil society such as Morocco and Tunisia, NED supported broad-based advocacy and accountability efforts, independent media, and efforts to strengthen civil society as a whole. Despite the rollback of democratic reforms in Turkey, NED supported independent media and accountability initiatives to guard against further backsliding. As violent conflicts progressed in Libya, Syria, and Yemen, NED prioritized keeping democracy from being subsumed by other priorities. In those contexts, NED emphasized efforts to expand independent voices, represent critical constituencies for change, and strengthen emerging generations of civil and political leaders. In Algeria, Egypt, the Gulf States, and Iran where civil society is constrained, the Endowment offered a lifeline to civic actors promoting democratic ideas and values, expanding the space for dialogue and exchange, and serving as watchdogs in critical sectors such as labor and human rights. Where political environments limited civil society’s ability to have much direct political influence, such as Jordan, Mauritania, and the West Bank and Gaza, NED support positioned civil society partners to respond constructively when greater engagement is possible.

In addition, NED’s MENA regional programs strengthened emerging networks and built sectoral expertise in various democracy-related issues across the region, expanded support to buttress democratic gains, including Tunisia’s transition, promoted dialogue, pluralism, and building bridges among communities threatened by divisions, supported human rights defenders, and addressed systemic good governance failures and weak local and national institutions.

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

Training hosted by the Palestinian Center for Democracy and Conflict Resolution to strengthen youth watchdog teams in assessing Ministry of Health performance

Training hosted by the Palestinian Center for Democracy and Conflict Resolution to strengthen youth watchdog teams in assessing Ministry of Health performance

2019 NED Grants in Middle East and North Africa

Promoting Accountability and Good Governance

Protests throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) during the Arab Spring of 2011 amplified the urgent need for sweeping government reforms, particularly for policies affecting young citizens.

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Improving Governance

To strengthen public policies related to good governance, NED supported CSOs that contributed to and advocated for policy reform through research, advocacy, and publications that addressed the most pressing governance issues.

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Rebuilding Civil Life In Areas Liberated From ISIS

Though reversing the damage caused by ISIS will be a long-term process, NED partners contributed to rebuilding civic life in ISIS-held areas of Western Iraq soon after liberation. NED partners engaged civil society, private sector, labor unions, local councils, as well as national and international actors to identify and address social, economic and political priorities for post-conflict reconstruction.

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Global Regional Overview

Challenges that have defined the political landscape in recent years continue to confront democracy and human rights advocates around the world. The restrictions aimed at curbing independent voices through criminalization of their work, judicial harassment, and even physical attacks show little sign of abating. As governments employ a range of tactics to limit civil society’s ability to operate, democracy advocates need to find creative ways to respond to the threats and stem the tide of deteriorating rights. In countries that have registered progress, meanwhile, democracy advocates face a different type of challenge: following through on the promises heralded by significant elections and building on the traction gained through fledgling, at times fitful, transition processes.

The Endowment’s Global program 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.

Transitional Justice Working Group

Transitional Justice Working Group (TJWG), based in South Korea, has worked to create new connections between transitional justice and human rights documentation experts and practitioners, enabling them to share experiences and strategies in human rights documentation practices, provide and receive technical skills, and explore collaboration on innovative joint initiatives to promote justice and accountability.

TJWG’s efforts to lay the foundation for more systematic knowledge sharing among human rights advocates on documentation approaches and methods began with organizing an international conference and training on applying information technology and forensic science in human rights documentation. Human rights advocates from Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East and North Africa gathered to discuss their work in varied political contexts. Conference sessions covered topics such as obtaining and using reliable data backed up by credible methodologies in transitional justice processes and advocacy campaigns, and investigations, evidence gathering; forensic science, including site preservation in situations of mass atrocity and new technologies and methods for investigations; political, networking, and resource challenges in documenting atrocities; and what human rights documentation practitioners may encounter in an international criminal justice process dealing with large-scale human rights abuses.

The conference was followed by a two-day workshop featuring intensive introductory trainings on forensic science that focused on bringing anthropology and criminal methods together; the use of information technology to improve documentation collection and storage; how human rights groups can work through the criminal justice process and the limits of international law in prosecuting regime leadership; and key considerations in the design, management, and application of documentation information and the perils of misusing human rights data. Building on the foundation laid by the conference, TJWG has continued to strengthen the foundation for a resource hub for human rights documenters working to support transitional justice projects globally.

The Endowment's Democracy Promotion Activities

The Endowment's Democracy Promotion Activities

Center for International Media Assistance

The world has reached a dangerous 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

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Democracy Resource Center

The Democracy Resource Center (DRC) collects, organizes, and disseminates information and analysis produced by and about the wide range of groups and organizations working to strengthen democracy abroad.

The DRC consists of a library that holds over 20,000 works in 60 languages collected from NED grantees and other sources that can be searched via an online catalog. The DRC also maintains several online resources, many of which are accessible on the NED website.

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International Forum for Democratic Studies

The International Forum for Democratic Studies at the National Endowment for Democracy is a leading center for research, discussion, thought, and analysis on the theory and practice of democracy around the world.

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Journal of Democracy

Since its first appearance in 1990, the Journal of Democracy has established itself as a leading voice in discussions of the problems and prospects of democracy around the world.

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Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows Program

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.

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World Movement for Democracy

Initiated by NED in 1999, the World Movement for Democracy is a global network of democrats including activists, practitioners, scholars, policy makers, and funders who collaborate, convene, and cooperate to promote democracy.

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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, 2017, 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, 2017, 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 2016 financial statements, and we have expressed an unmodified opinion on those audited financial statements in our report dated February 9, 2017. In our opinion the summarized comparative information presented herein as of and for the year ended September 30, 2016, is consistent, in all material respects, with the audited financial statements from which it has been derived.

Other Reporting Required by Government Auditing Standards

In accordance with Government Auditing Standards, we have also issued our report dated January 12, 2018, 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.
January 12, 2018

Link to Balance Sheet