2020 Annual Report

From the President

Carl Gershman

I have written a president’s message for the annual report every year since NED began its operations in 1984, and this one is my last. It has been an extraordinary 37 years during which the world has changed dramatically and repeatedly, as has NED.  First, there was the third wave of democratization, which peaked during NED’s early years, and the revolutions of 1989 that ended the Cold War.  It was a very hopeful time when many people thought that continued democratic progress was inexorable and that an institution like NED was no longer needed. Then came 9/11 and the return of history, followed by the resurgence of authoritarianism and the global crisis of liberal democracy. Suddenly democracy was under attack, and a political consensus formed in support of NED’s mission to aid people around the world who are fighting for democracy.

Though NED had a difficult beginning when it was a new and controversial idea, it is now an established and respected institution, filling a critical need with broad bipartisan support from the U.S. Congress. The benefits of stability, a larger budget, and rapid growth have brought their own challenges—as has the crisis of global democracy. NED has had to resist bureaucratization while staying flexible and able to quickly respond to rapidly changing events. It also has had to remain mission-focused, connected to frontline activists, and positioned at the cutting-edge of democracy struggles in a very dangerous world.

With its four core institute partners that draw upon the expertise of American political parties, business, and labor, NED is now a critical hub and support system for people everywhere who are fighting for fundamental rights and for systems of government that are lawful and accountable to the people. The NED family, as it is often called, is also at the forefront of a global association of democracy support organizations and multilateral agencies that it can leverage to complement and amplify its work. Through NED’s research, publishing, and fellowship activities, it has become an unparalleled center for democracy information, analysis, and learning. And at this time, when people working for democracy are under attack as never before, NED has prioritized the mobilization of political support for activists, journalists, and others who are fighting corruption and defending human and minority rights.

The challenge today is nothing less than to reverse the decline of democratic values and institutions. This will involve helping pivotal democratic transitions to succeed in countries like Sudan and Armenia; sustaining democracy activists who are resisting despotic governments; countering authoritarian sharp power in the information space; building greater cooperation and shared learning among groups working to aid democracy; strengthening liberal values against the rising tide of illiberalism and extremism; and helping democrats compete with authoritarians in the arena of technology. The NED cannot do this alone, but it can be a catalyst, a coalition builder, and a source of urgently needed practical support and moral solidarity.

NED is a U.S. institution with the mission of supporting democracy around the world. But there is a sense in which it is today also an institution for American democracy—not programmatically, but symbolically, and in the values it upholds. At a time of great political polarization in the United States, NED represents a common space based on shared democratic values. Its unique structure that includes institutes associated with Democratic and Republican parties, the labor movement, and the business community demonstrates that democracy can be a unifying principle in American life.  And its global democracy mission, which is embedded in national legislation, is a reminder of how deeply rooted the democratic idea is in American identity.

It has been an extraordinary privilege to have been able to lead and build such an organization for nearly four decades. I am confident that NED will continue to thrive for the simple reason that people everywhere want to have their voices heard and their dignity respected, and America needs to have a national institution that helps them realize these aspirations.  Democracy is a very difficult system to maintain because it requires finding the proper balance between rivalry and consensus, between the competition for power and the need for compromise, and between partisan differences and the common good. But it is the only system that can secure human freedom, and there is no higher calling than contributing to its development and defense. That’s the NED’s mission, and it’s more important now than ever before.

Carl Gershman

President’s Letter photo: NED president Carl Gershman, former Journal of Democracy coeditor Marc Plattner, and coeditor Larry Diamond celebrate the Journal’s 30th Anniversary in 2020.

Annual Report Cover photo: Regional Centre for Development and Training of Civil Society (RCDCS) president Dr. Mutaal Girshab and a student pose in front of photographs from the Sudanese revolution in Khartoum, Sudan. RCDCS was honored with a 2020 NED Democracy Award. 

Year in Review


2020 was an annus horribilis, when continued political backsliding and the Covid-19 pandemic combined to constrict freedom and the rule of law everywhere. Authoritarian regimes tightened their controls, and democratic and semi-democratic governments alike introduced new restrictions on news media, civil society, and ethnic and religious minorities.

Amidst these negative trends and events, NED had an unprecedented year of growth and change. Responding to growing challenges to democracy worldwide, the U.S. Congress increased funding for NED by two-thirds. Executing such growth during the pandemic—with staff working remotely and with no ability to travel—seemed like an impossible goal. But the entire NED staff demonstrated immense dedication and resilience and met the challenges of managing unprecedented program growth and institutional change.

While the pandemic exacerbated existing trends of democratic backsliding, NED made a record 1,995 grants that supported programs in 100 countries around the world. Undeterred by our inability to hold in-person events, also NED made a virtual presentation of the annual Democracy Award, honoring the outstanding work of three grantees from Sudan for their work to strengthen civil society. Watch highlights of the virtual event and learn more about the work of our honorees:

NED’s Democracy Support Activities also adapted resourcefully to the pandemic. The International Forum for Democratic Studies—NED’s research arm—seamlessly transitioned all of its in-person meetings and workshops to the virtual space.  New activities and events were added to take advantage of global participating, including leading experts from the Sydney-based Australian Strategic Policy Institute, the UK’s Oxford Internet Institute, Bulgaria-based experts from the Center for the Study of Democracy, among many others. Learn more about NED’s International Forum for Democratic Studies.

The Journal of Democracy digital transition made its operations more efficient, as staff remotely produced the quarterly issues and quickly adapted content to analyze the historic challenges of this time. The staff published stellar issues on the uprising in Belarus, the collapse of freedom in Hong Kong, and the challenge Covid-19 posed for democracy itself. As a result, the journal saw its engagement with readers increase significantly. Learn more about the Journal of Democracy.

The Forum’s annual Lipset Lecture on Democracy in the World—which featured Minxin Pei’s superb lecture on “Totalitarianism’s Long Dark Shadow Over China,”—was organized virtually for the first time. The new format enabled the discussion to reach large audiences in Asia and other regions. The Forum will take advantage of learnings and best practices from this experience when organizing future in-person Lipset Lectures. Learn more and watch the 2020 Lipset Lecture.

The Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows Program also successfully transitioned online—offering remote fellows a robust curriculum of virtual fellowship activities, including seminars with leading scholars and practitioners, roundtable discussions, capacity-building workshops, and presentations by each of the fellows. All participants conducted research via digital access to the electronic collection of NED’s Democracy Resource Center. Responding to the exploitation of the pandemic by authoritarian governments to target dissidents, the program also convened representatives from civil society, academia, and the human rights assistance community to consider new ways to develop virtual fellowships and remote placements to support democrats-at-risk. Learn more about NED’s Reagan-Fascell Fellows.

The Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) convened meetings of partners in the media-support community—including the leading U.S,-based media development organizations and the major bilateral donors, private foundations, and social-media giants—to strategize about how to cope with the pandemic, which has had a devastating impact on media organizations and on the safety of journalists. CIMA also supported the collection of data on the most critical cases of media under threat and worked with NED program teams to improve the quality and effectiveness of NED’s support to media, which doubled during 2020.  Learn more about CIMA.

The World Movement for Democracy, a global network of democracy activists with a Secretariat based at NED, turned the Covid-19 crisis into an opportunity by convening virtual discussions throughout the year, packaging new informational resources as multimedia products, and using these resources to amplify voices of young democracy activists and to exchange knowledge and experience. The network broadened its reach by engaging in its events prominent individuals with large followings on social media, such as the virtual forum on the “Battle of Narratives”—which included Anne Applebaum, Garry Kasparov, Bobi Wine, and social-media-savvy youth activists on the International Day of Democracy. Not least, the World Movement for Democracy has transformed its upcoming 10th Global Assembly into a virtual one, designing locally driven, bottom-up discussions at the regional and global levels to make the Assembly more dynamic and connected to the work on the ground. Learn more about the World Movement for Democracy.

NED’s Penn Kemble Democracy Forum connected dozens of rising foreign policy professionals with the work of NED and provided an opportunity for bipartisan conversation with a broad range of policy experts and activists on the role of democracy and human rights. As with NED’s other programs in 2020, the Penn Kemble Democracy Forum’s events were all held virtually. Learn more about the Penn Kemble Democracy Forum.

The National Endowment of Democracy thanks its grantees and supporters all over the world for their persistence and support in 2020 and invites you to read on to learn more about our work during this challenging but eventful year.

Year in Review photo: Minxin Pei delivers the International Forum for Democratic Studies annual Lipset Lecture on Democracy in the World, organized virtually in 2020 for the first time. 

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2020 NED Democracy Award: Presented to the Regional Centre for Development and Training (RCDCS); Nuba Women for Education and Development Association (NuWEDA); and the Darfur Bar Association (DBA).

2020 NED Democracy Award: Presented to the Regional Centre for Development and Training (RCDCS); Nuba Women for Education and Development Association (NuWEDA); and the Darfur Bar Association (DBA).


Board of Directors


  • Chairman

    Andrew Card

  • Secretary

    Marylin Carlson Nelson

  • Vice Chairman

    David Skaggs

  • Treasurer

    Jayne Kurzman

  • President

    Carl Gershman


  • Anne Applebaum
  • Karen Bass
  • William J. Burns
  • Scott Carpenter
  • Marlene Colucci
  • Eileen Donahoe
  • Michele Dunne
  • Daniel Fried
  • Francis Fukuyama
  • Barry Jackson
  • Tim Kaine
  • Mel Martinez
  • Victoria Nuland
  • Marc Platter
  • Dayton Ogden
  • Fred Redmond
  • Peter Roskam
  • Ben Sasse
  • Nadia Schadlow
  • Elizabeth Schuler
  • 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


Year in Review

Africa Regional Overview

Despite the disruption created by Covid-19 and political setbacks across the continent, NED increased its support to democratic activists in Africa during 2020. The pandemic led the government of Ethiopia to postpone national electionsprecipitating a rise in ethnic conflict and a full-blown war in Tigray Province, throwing an historic opportunity for democratic transition off track. Yet NED continued to augment its program in Ethiopia, bolstering the tenuous democratic space afforded by Abiy Ahmed’s ascension to power in 2018, including assistance to human rights and media institutions.

NED made Sudan’s democratic breakthrough a priority for 2020. Civil society activists who helped lay the foundations for Sudan’s peaceful revolution received NED’s annual Democracy Award, which was bestowed virtually due to the pandemic, but still galvanized international recognition of the transition.  NED’s grantmaking also rose to meet the challenge with increased support to Sudanese groups providing leadership training and promoting legal reform and transitional justice.

Elections across Africa were a mixed bag in 2020. Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Tanzania, and Togo held elections that defied term limits or brutalized the political opposition to return incumbents to power, while Ghana and Burkina Faso held more credible processes that also returned the incumbents. Niger held a first round of elections in which the incumbent, President Mahamadou Issoufou, willingly stepped down in accordance with the constitution, the first democratic transfer in Niger’s history. Malawi was the happiest surprise of the year, where the court ordered a re-run of flawed elections, leading to the defeat of the incumbent and hopes for democratic reform. NED’s partners were engaged in every one of these strugglesmobilizing the participation of women and youth, monitoring the elections, preserving democratic space, and advocating for human rights. 

Police abuses in Nigeria sparked the massive #EndSARS movement that calls for reforms, and although it has since been suppressed, the momentum for greater accountability and respect for human rights continued. NED’s partners pushed back against government repression, pressed for greater inclusivity, and took to social media to popularize democratic values. 

Hopes for democratic reform in Zimbabwe were disappointed in the wake of the 2019 elections, but NED’s partners regrouped, calling out the massive corruption in the country even as its economy disintegrated. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, political developments opened the potential of renewed democratic reform as President Felix Tshisekedi attempted to break the hold of his kleptocratic predecessor, Joseph Kabila. The fight against kleptocracy emerged as a major theme of NED’s work in Africa, and the concerted efforts of groups such as the Platform to Protect Whistleblowers in Africa (PPLAAF) scored significant victories, starting to rein in some of the worst offenders.      

Africa Overview photo:  Befeqadu Hailu, the executive director of NED grantee Center for Advancement for Rights and Democracy, poses for a portrait on the roof of his office building in downtown Addis Ababa in February, 2020. 

Click here to explore more of NED’s work in Africa.

2020 NED Grants in Africa

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - DECEMBER 10: Former Trillian employee Ms Msilo Mothepu testifies at the Commission of Inquiry on December 10, 2020 in Johannesburg, South Africa. It is reported that the Commission continued to hear Eskom related testimony. (Photo by Papi Morake/Gallo Images via Getty Images)

In Focus: Defending Whistleblowers

One of NED’s partners, the Platform to Protect Whistleblowers in Africa (Plateforme de Protection des Lanceurs d’Alerte en Afrique, or PPLAAF), shows resilience while publishing independent investigative journalism, demanding greater government transparency and accountability, and developing civic education materials to mobilize citizens across the continent.

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The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Chairperson Cde Rashid Mahiya, Spokesperson Marvellous Kumalo and Cde George Makoni on the ground in Marondera at Mbuya Nehanda Hall monitoring the Public Hearings for Constitutional Amendment No.2.

In Focus: Supporting Civil Society in Southern Africa

As the government continues to take advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic to further tighten its grip on power and limit dissidents, the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CIZC) is using NED assistance to strengthen local and regional civil society campaigns in response to the political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe. 

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Year in Review

Asia Regional Overview

The global democratic recession arrived late in Asia, but hit hard when it did. Although many analysts believed that the region held many of the prerequisites to foster and sustain democracyincluding an increasingly educated population, a growing middle class, urbanization, and relative peacethese conditions did not prove adequate to weather the global storm of economic dislocation, endemic corruption, illiberalism and terrorism, and the spread of misinformation. From Thailand to the Philippines and Bangladesh to Sri Lanka, elections have resulted in illiberal governments and a further backsliding of democracy. 

In 2020, NED worked with political parties, media organizations, business associations, civil society organizations, and unions to bolster democratic partners while attempting to re-establish democratic norms and values across Asia. NED continued to prioritize four countries that represent the biggest democratic challenges, or where a democratic breakthrough could have significant implications for the entire region: Chinaincluding Tibet, Hong Kong, and East Turkistan; North Korea in east Asia; Burma in southeast Asia; and Pakistan in south Asia.

In China, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) continued its brutal repression against the Uyghurs and Tibetans and the curtailing of rights in Hong Kong. North Korea remained the most closed country in the world. In Burma, civil society focused on the 2020 nationwide elections as Rohingya refugees sat in camps in Bangladesh, ethnic conflict continued, and anti-Muslim rhetoric spread throughout the country. In Pakistan, despite a peaceful transfer of power, the military maintained its paramount role in politics as it marginalized many democratic institutions throughout the country. 

NED grants also supported efforts to build democratic resilience and to create a more open environment for civil society and independent media across the region. In 2020, NED’s Asia program also partnered with efforts in other regions to expand networks and information among China experts and activists to address the negative impact of the CCP’s influence on democratic institutions and values around the world.

Asia Overview photo: Activists march from Victoria Park during a democracy march in Hong Kong on January 1, 2020. (Photo by ISAAC LAWRENCE/AFP via Getty Images)

Click here to explore more of NED’s work in Asia.

2020 NED Grants in Asia

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 14: Supporters and members of the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement rally outside the White House to urge the United States to end trade deals with China and take action to stop the oppression of the Uyghur and other Turkic peoples August 14, 2020 in Washington, DC. The ETNAM and East Turkistan Government in Exile (ETGE) groups submitted evidence to the international criminal court, calling for an investigation into senior Chinese officials, including Xi Jinping, for genocide and crimes against humanity. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

In Focus: Advocating for Uyghur Rights

To further human rights and human dignity for all people in China, NED has awarded millions to Uyghur groups since 2004, serving as the only institutional funder for Uyghur advocacy and human rights organizations. Despite the constant efforts of the CCP to undermine the advocacy of Uyghur groups around the world, NED grantees are working tirelessly to fight repression.

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Activists affiliated to various Dalit organization protest against killing of Dalit low-caste youth in Rukum district during lockdown in Kathmandu, Nepal on Tuesday, June 23, 2020. Six men were killed from Dalit cast in May 2020 when they tried to escort one of their girlfriends from a higher cast back home. (Photo by Rojan Shrestha/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

In Focus: Supporting Minority Rights in Nepal

As widespread societal exclusion and a lack of government accountability persist, Samata Foundation—a Dalit-led, independent think-tank and NED grantee—conducts research on and advocates against caste-based discrimination in Nepal.

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Central and Eastern Europe

Year in Review

Central and Eastern Europe Regional Overview

Thirty years after the collapse of the communist bloc, Europe’s transitions remain under threat. Now most countries of central, eastern and southeastern Europe are experiencing a democratic decline that began a decade ago. Rising polarization, pervasive corruption, and weakened rule of law point to the deterioration of democratic processes and political institutions.

Public dissatisfaction with the fairness, pace, and outcomes of the post-1989 changes and the high level of corruption contributed to the centralization of power by populists and nationalists, who have used legal means to undermine democratic values and freedoms. Russia and other authoritarian states exploit this situation and aim to increase political polarization and discontent through disinformation, corrosive capital, and other forms of malign influence. Governments and oligarchs now control most mass media, and in many cases, they have used the pandemic to increase pressure on civil society as economies suffer. Although people across Europe have previously demonstrated against abuses of power and rampant corruption, the pandemic forced people to stay home for most of 2020, making it harder to hold governments accountable.

In the midst of this global crisis, Belarus provided hope for change. Citizens braved both the pandemic and the regime’s brutal repression to flood the streets in unprecedented numbers following blatantly rigged presidential elections. Another hopeful development was the victory of a pro-Western and pro-reformist president in Moldova who has an ambitious anti-corruption agenda.

In all the countries in Europe where NED provides assistance—from Belarus to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and from Ukraine to Serbia—independent media and civil society play indispensable roles in providing objective information, fighting disinformation, and holding public officials and institutions accountable. In 2020, NED increased funding for civil society and independent media organizations that promote political accountability and good governance, including in the most vulnerable areas. NED continued to emphasize political and historical reconciliation programs that counter polarization and extremism, especially among youth in post-conflict countries. NED also expanded support for initiatives that analyze, spotlight, and counter foreign malign influence, particularly disinformation and corrosive capital.

Europe Overview photo: Belarus opposition supporters hold the former flag of Belarus during a demonstration in central Minsk on August 16, 2020. (Photo by SERGEI GAPON/AFP via Getty Images)

Click here to explore more of NED’s work in Central and Eastern Europe.

2020 NED Grants in Central and Eastern Europe

Reporters Foundation supports and trains journalists across Central Europe. (Photo courtesy of Reporters Foundation)

In Focus: Reporters Foundation Defends Independent Media in Central Europe

Poland-based Reporters Foundation and its cross-border network of investigative journalists defend the shrinking space of independent media in the region and support the integrity of investigative journalism.

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NED grantee Ukrainian Volunteer Service organized a series of regional trainings to equip active citizens with skills to develop volunteer movements in their communities.

In Focus: Boosting Engagement and Activism in Ukraine

The Ukrainian Volunteer Service (UVS) addresses the gap between the strong interest in democratic engagement and the lack of opportunities for activism. 

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Year in Review

Eurasia Regional Overview

Despite the challenges of repression, Covid-19, and local wars, civil society is emerging as a stronger political actor throughout the Eurasia region. In addition to helping citizens cope with the pandemic, civil society is focusing on important transitions in Georgia and Armenia, political mobilizations in Russia and Kyrgyzstan, and new awakenings in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan

In Russia, civil society has not only survived the crackdown, but emerged stronger, more unified, and more connected to the general populationin part, due to increased use of social media and grassroots organizing techniques. Throughout the region, new youth-driven and technology-enabled political movements are starting to affect their countries’ political agendas and to band together in a growing commitment to mutual solidarity. Democratic activists across Eurasia are increasingly working together to address common challenges and advance democratic values as the first post-Soviet generation comes of age. More than ever, they see their efforts against authoritarianism as a shared struggle.

NED expanded its Eurasia regional programs in 2020 to facilitate collaboration and capacity building among civil society organizations on key issuessuch as conducting and amplifying the reach of investigative journalism and using digital technology for human rights and civic activism. Russia remained the top priority: NED supported programs that channel grassroots civic energy into sustained, organized movements, as well as projects that protect activists from the repression they often face because of their work. Given the importance of independent information, NED focused on initiatives that promote a free and open Internet and the innovative use of technology for investigative journalism. NED also emphasized efforts to expose kleptocratic practices of the ruling class and to analyze the connections between corruption and human rights abuses.

Although Armenia and Georgia present opportunities for democratic transition, Covid-19, the war over Nagorno-Karabakh, and bitter political struggles in Georgia have overtaken the political agenda for much of 2020. Despite these adverse conditions, NED grantees achieved anti-corruption reform in Armenia and historic constitutional reform in Georgia, establishing a more fair and equitable electoral system.  NED programs empowered citizens to participate in the political process and encouraged a culture of policy debate. Across Central Asia, NED prioritized support for independent media, free and fair elections, civil society oversight of government institutions, and the continued development of political pluralism. 

Eurasia Overview photo: Union of Informed Citizens—a NED grantee—holds an event in September 2020, on transparency in campaign finance in Yerevan, Armenia. 

Click here to explore more of NED’s work in Eurasia.

2020 NED Grants in Eurasia

In 2020, Coda Story established a newsletter called “The Infodemic” to keep readers informed and to counteract disinformation surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic.

In Focus: Reporting on Authoritarian Influence and Disinformation

Coda Story reports on authoritarian influence and disinformation to build global awareness and create high-quality journalism.

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TBILISI, Oct. 31, 2020 -- A man registers to vote at a polling station in Tbilisi, Georgia, Oct. 31, 2020. Georgians are heading to the polls on Saturday amid the coronavirus pandemic to elect the country's 150-member top legislative body for the next four years. (Photo by Kulumbegashvili Tamuna/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/Kulumbegashvili Tamuna via Getty Images)

In Focus: Strengthening Democracy in Georgia

Although Georgia has been a focal point of Chinese sharp power because of its geographic importance, NED grantee the Civic Initiative for Democratic and Euro-Atlantic Choice, or Civic IDEA, has taken their vision of a transparent, free and fair Georgia to the global level. 

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Latin America and Caribbean

Year in Review

Latin America & Caribbean Regional Overview

In 2020, the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region experienced the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic combined with ongoing economic deceleration and democratic fatigue. Governments across LAC have managed the health crisis with varying degrees of effectiveness and transparency, while the health crisis exacerbated pre-existing issues­­–such as weak governance and widespread inequalities. Massive demonstrations swept across the hemisphere in 2019 as citizens expressed dissatisfaction with elected populist leaders and lagging reforms, but the pandemic restrictions forced people home. 

Region-wide disenchantment with democracy affected consolidated, functional, and fragile democracies alike, and LAC still harbors three notoriously authoritarian regimes: Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. Furthermore, fragile democracies, such as those of Central America’s Northern Triangle, continue to struggle with the combined challenges of drug trafficking, organized crime, deeply-embedded corruption, and emigration. Human rights defenders, journalists, and environmental activists face ongoing threats from hostile governments and criminal actors. While providing connectivity to urban and rural populations, the growing digital space in LAC has also followed the global trend of spreading disinformation and amplifying polarization. The region has also witnessed increased influence of outside players, such as Russia and China, that seek political and economic advantage. 

In 2020, NED’s LAC program provided critical support to advance democracy in the countries under the most authoritarian regimes. Two transitional countries, Ecuador and Bolivia, offered important opportunities to revert previous authoritarian legislation on freedom of expression and judicial independence, and to encourage citizen participation in electoral processes. In the Northern Triangle, NED expanded anti-corruption, digital media, and human rights programs. NED reaffirmed commitments to the largest countries of the region, Brazil and Mexico, that are currently facing the menaces of right- and left- wing populist governments, respectively. 

Through regional programs, NED addressed global challenges, such as the growing contamination of the digital information space, Russia and China’s influence, and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on corruption practices. NED also supported human rights defenders and the rights of vulnerable minorities, while strengthening key democratic requirements such as free and fair elections and effective democratic governance.

 LAC Overview photo: NED grantee Fundación para la Libertad de Prensa(Foundation for Press Freedom), or FLIP, hosts a conversation on the risks journalists take during the pandemic in Quibdo, Colombia.

Click here to explore more of NED’s work in Latin America and Caribbean.

2020 NED Grants in Latin America and Caribbean

Delibera organized meetings with the Citizens Council of Fortaleza on environmental issues. The council created a project proposal titled “Winning the Challenge of Garbage – A Living Fortaleza with More Health for All,” to discuss good governance.

In Focus: Deliberating Democracy in Brazil

In Brazil, organizations are committed to forging a path forward via deliberative democracy processes. One such organization is Delibera, founded in 2017 by a group of four women, with the mission of establishing itself as the progenitor of deliberative democracy in Brazil with NED support. 

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Haitian digital media outlet AyiboPost reported on widespread protests about the Petrocaribe corruption scandal- the embezzlement of almost five billion dollars in aid from Venezuela by the Haitian government.

In Focus: Providing Accessible Information to Haiti

Haitian digital media outlet Ayibopost makes complex topics available to the broader population of Haiti.

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Middle East and North Africa

Year in Review

Middle East and Northern Africa Regional Overview

Across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, the pandemic exacerbated the economic stagnation and weak governance that fueled mass mobilizations in 2011 and in 2019. Some MENA countries exploited Covid-19 to further close civic space in already inhospitable environments. Declining oil prices affected both the region’s oil producers and countries that were beneficiaries of their investments. Political rivalries and regional conflicts were further complicated by escalating U.S.-Iran tensions. In Iraq and Afghanistan, the nascent democratic institutions that developed over the nearly two decades are more vulnerable due to weak governments and the potential drawdown of U.S. troops.

Despite these challenges, there are opportunities and potential openings for reforms. Tunisia continues to consolidate its democratic gains. Ongoing protests in Algeria forced President Bouteflika out of power after 20 years. Turkey witnessed surprising opposition victories in 2019 mayoral elections that represented a clear repudiation of President Erdogan’s authoritarian rule.

During 2020, NED grantmaking in the MENA region focused on safeguarding democratic progress in Iraq and Afghanistan, supporting Tunisia’s democratic transition, promoting regional cooperation to address cross-cutting trends, and enhancing support for countries that are less accessible or open to direct assistance, such as Algeria. To restore public confidence in democratic institutions, NED programs provided assistance to protect civic space, strengthen accountability and governance through independent media, and promote pluralism while including marginalized groups in policy and decision-making. NED also expanded programs in Afghanistan, Morocco, and Lebanon to respond to political opportunities and guard against further democratic backsliding.

In the region’s authoritarian states, NED expanded programming when possible, such as in Egypt, to protect and defend civic space and democracy advocates. In the more repressive authoritarian states, including Iran and the Gulf States, NED continued support for civic groups–mostly operating in exile–to promote accountability. In the region’s conflict countries, NED maintained a modest presence with the aim of contributing to post-conflict political transitions.

MENA Overview photo: NED grantee Organization for Policy Research and Development Studies (DROPS) organizes a discussion about the latest issue of their women-led foreign policy journal, the first in Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy of DROPS)

Click here to explore more of NED’s work in the Middle East and Northern Africa.


2020 NED Grants in Middle East and North Africa

Afghan women protesters hold banners and chant slogans during a march to show their support towards peace talks between Afghan government and the Taliban as they demanded announcement of permanent ceasefire, in Jalalabad on September 16, 2020. (Photo by NOORULLAH SHIRZADA / AFP) (Photo by NOORULLAH SHIRZADA/AFP via Getty Images)

In Focus: Protecting Women’s Rights

NED supports 35 organizations in Afghanistan that work tirelessly to promote sustainable peace and a democracy for all citizens, including women, youth, minorities, and other marginalized communities.

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20 October 2020, Lebanon, Beirut: Anti-government activists chant slogans during a female protest near the house of Lebanese Speaker of the Parliament Nabih Berri demanding the end of corruption, forum a new government and early parliament election. Photo: Marwan Naamani/dpa (Photo by Marwan Naamani/picture alliance via Getty Images)

In Focus: Promoting Good Governance and Transparency in Lebanon

The Lebanese Transparency Association uses civil society as an avenue to increase measures of transparency and accountability within Lebanon.

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Year in Review

Global Overview

The global trend of democratic erosion and decline in freedom that has persisted for more than a decade continued to define the political landscape in 2020. Democracy advocates operating in closing spaces had to confront the deterioration of rights, as well as restrictions aimed at curbing independent voices. In countries undergoing transitions and political openings, civil society activists, political actors, and public officials had to take up the crucial task of boosting public confidence in the democratic system—by ensuring that reforms were being pursued and deepened, governance processes were inclusive, and government institutions were transparent and accountable to citizens. Challenges related to democratic governance and human rights were further exacerbated and complicated by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, and will continue to require strong support to and coordination among advocates throughout the world.

Spanning multiple regions and complementing the country-level work of democrats, the NED Global program strengthened the impact of democracy advocates’ work as they joined together to tackle common challenges related to human rights, democratic governance, political processes, independent media, freedom of association, and market-oriented reform.

During 2020, NED’s Global program prioritized projects that worked to strengthen democracy in the following areas: bolstering collaboration on keys areas of advocacy and critical arenas of contestation regarding democratic standards; providing platforms for networking across different regions and countries to facilitate the sharing of technical expertise and lessons learned among activists; fostering the development and implementation of norms to strengthen democracy; and leveraging the rich and diverse experiences of partners by capturing best practices for the development of new tools and strategies to enhance the work of advocates.  

Global Overview photo: NED grantee International Sites of Conscience connects past struggles for human rights with contemporary challenges to democracy through historical sites and museums. The Hopelantern Space—an International Site of Conscience in Kigali, Rwanda—engages community members through programs that promote learning, social change, and social cohesion using a variety of platforms.

Click here to explore more of NED’s work in the Global program.


National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman joins Anna Lührmann, Natan Sharansky, and Shalini Randeria for a panel discussion, "Democracy in the post-Covid World? Key Values for our Common Future", during Forum 2000's 24th Conference, held virtually in October of 2020.

In Focus: Strengthening Democratic Unity 

The Forum 2000 Foundation—a NED grantee established in 1996—pursues the legacy of Václav Havel by supporting the values of democracy and respect for human rights, assisting the development of civil society, and encouraging religious, cultural, and ethnic tolerance.

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WLP partner Women and Youth Development Institute of Indonesia (WYDII) trained 40 people from 5 districts to serve as election observers for regional elections that happened across Indonesia on December 9th, 2020. WYDII also trained the volunteers on observing health precautions during election monitoring since the country had seen a recent surge of COVID-19 infections.

In Focus: Supporting Women Leaders

To empower female leaders, NED grantee Women’s Learning Partnership for Rights, Development, and Peace (WLP)a partnership of twenty autonomous organizations primarily in the Global Southtrains and supports women to advocate for a free and peaceful world. 

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NED's Democracy Support Activities

Year in Review

NED's Democracy Support Activities

CIMA, along with the rest of NED, hosted engaging virtual events during 2020.

Center for International Media Assistance

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.

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The DRC provided virtual access for staff, fellows, and other researchers to thousands of democracy resources in their collection.

Democracy Resource Center

The Democracy Resource Center (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.

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The International Forum for Democratic Studies researched disinformation, kleptocracy and corruption, and other topics preventing democratic progress around the world.

International Forum for Democratic Studies

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

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For more than twenty years, the quarterly Journal of Democracy has been a leading voice in the conversation about government by consent and its place in the world.

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 Fellow Dolgion Aldar explains the state of democracy in Mongolia.

Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows

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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On March 2, 2020, the Gambian NGO Future In Our Hands, along with support from the Center for International Private Enterprise, the World Movement for Democracy, and the National Endowment for Democracy, convened the “Women Deliver Forum” in Banjul, The Gambia.

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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Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA)

Year in Review

CIMA Overview

CIMA Overview

Rampant democratic backsliding, deteriorating revenue streams, and a global pandemic contributed to a perilous year for media outlets across the globe. Despite these challenges, the work of NED’s Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) remained vital in exploring ways for independent media to safely navigate this existential threat.

In January, CIMA launched Supporting Media at a Time of Crisis: Donors Explore New Strategies, which addressed the challenges and potential roles for private, bilateral, and multilateral donors in confronting the global crisis independent media. Knowledge gained from this report proved crucial moving forward, as the COVID-19 pandemic stripped formerly reliable revenue streams from independent media .

With the pandemic ravaging media ecosystems, regional collaboration has become essential to the survival of independent media outlets around the world. Based on the lessons learned from the fourth in its series of regional consultations, CIMA released Building Regional Strategies for Media Development in the Middle East and North Africa, which offers an overview of current challenges and priority areas for collective action in the Middle East and North Africa region. In addition to this convening of regional actors, CIMA also convened discussions with the international donor community and the US media development community on the added challenges facing independent media during the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants discussed how the donor and media development communities should support vulnerable media outlets in the Global South.

Throughout the year, CIMA’s research and events continued to stress a local, demand-driven approach to media development. To that end, the team organized a public webinar in June on Local News in Times of Crisis, convening NED experts, grantees, and others to discuss the ways news outlets adapt in challenging environments, the growing threat of “news deserts,” and how to support critical work on the ground. Similar obstacles and innovations were reflected in a report launched that month, Local Radio Stations in Africa: Sustainability or Pragmatic Viability?, which explored the types of flexible donor strategies needed to sustain local media in sub-Saharan Africa.

The ongoing crisis demanded innovative solutions to media sustainability. CIMA responded to this call with the report, Are Punchlines the New Front Lines of Media Development?, a vibrant look at the potential of satire media in promoting independent voices and more sustainable business models. The report featured NED grantees from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kenya, Serbia, and Zimbabwe, among other case studies, and served as the basis for a virtual public event. The continued exploration of innovative development strategies led to the report, The Wisdom of the Crowd: Promoting Media Development through Deliberative Initiatives, which outlined a new set of citizen engagement practices with the potential to improve media assistance efforts and strengthen media environments around the globe.

To close out the year, CIMA collaborated with Project Syndicate to organize a panel discussion for UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Conference in December. Usually held in the spring, the virtual conference brought together foundational thinkers from various sectors to reflect on the role of journalism in these unprecedented times.

CIMA Overview photo: CIMA’s four part animated video series “Internet Governance and Journalism” covered topics such as “The Right to Be Forgotten.”  Watch the series on Youtube.  


CIMA's panelists discuss "Donor Support to Media During Crisis," during Carleton University's "Journalism in the Time of Crisis" conference. (Photo courtesy of John MacGillis)

In Focus: Supporting Media in Crisis

For independent news media around the world, 2020 was a difficult year. The rapid spread of COVID-19 had a devastating effect, and the question of how to support media sustainability took on even greater importance.

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Vecherka distributes its special issue of newspaper among people in the local market in Dushanbe, Tajikstan. (Photo by USAID Central Asia)

In Focus: Internet Governance

The future of the news media sector worldwide is being shaped by decisions about how the internet is governed. The digital policies of tech companies and governments affect not only what type of news citizens have access to, but also how journalists go about their work. In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced many aspects of social life to go all-virtual, the outsized impacts of these policies on journalism and the news were put in the spotlight.

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International Forum for Democratic Studies

Year in Review

International Forum for Democratic Studies Overview

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

  • Publishing the Journal of Democracy, the leading scholarly journal on democratization.
  • Organizing fellowship programs for international democracy activists, journalists, and scholars.
  • Hosting the Power 3.0 blog and podcast, which explores how savvy authoritarian governments survive and thrive in a globalized information age, and the ways that democracies are contending with this challenge.
  • Engaging in specialized research on authoritarian sharp power and democratic resilience, as part of an initiative examining authoritarian influence in crucial arenas relating to the integrity and vibrancy of democratic systems.
  • Producing resources on topics relating to transnational kleptocracy, defending the integrity of the information space, authoritarian influence, and democracy and civil society.
  • Coordinating the Network of Democracy Research Institutes (NDRI), a global think tank network.
  • Overseeing the Democracy Resource Center, a political science-oriented library providing researchers access to a collection of materials produced by leading think tanks and non-governmental organizations, featuring works by prominent thinkers within the field of democracy and democracy assistance. The DRC’s Allen Overland Collection, named in honor of its founding librarian and director, includes more than 20,000 books, journals, grantee reports, DVDs, and other publications on democracy.

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 was directed by Shanthi Kalathil through the end of the 2020 calendar year. She was joined during that year by Kevin Sheives, the Forum’s Associate Director. 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.

Seventeenth Annual Seymour Martin Lipset Lecture on Democracy in the World:

Minxin Pei, Pritzker Professor of Government and George R. Roberts Fellow at Claremont McKenna College, delivered the seventeenth annual Seymour Martin Lipset Lecture on Democracy in the World on “Totalitarianism’s Long Dark Shadow over China.” The lecture was held virtually in partnership with the Canadian Embassy on December 3, 2020. An article based on the lecture will appear in the April 2021 issue of the Journal of Democracy.

Research and Conferences Program

The Forum’s research and analysis focuses on issues of democratic transition and consolidation as well as the common challenges facing both new and established democracies. Each year the Forum convenes an extensive number of meetings ranging from international conferences to smaller seminars and colloquia in Washington, D.C. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Forum’s meetings, seminars, and colloquia began taking place virtually in March 2020. These events bring together leading activists and experts across geographic locations and thematic disciplines.

Focus Areas

Throughout 2020, the Forum continued to release several podcast episodes tied to its Power 3.0 blog, focusing on the ways in which modern authoritarianism takes advantage of the features once chiefly thought to empower democracies—the interconnected economic and financial system, ubiquitous communication networks, international norms and institutions, and global media and culture. 2020’s Podcast episodes include “Beijing’s Mask Diplomacy and Power Plays in Europe,” with Lucrezia Poggetti, “The Changing Global Media Landscape,” with Claire Wardle and Jamie Fly, and “China, the Party and the World,” with Mareike Ohlberg. Key areas of authoritarian influence and democratic resilience explored by this series include culture and education; media/information/technology; norms/ideas/institutions; overseas assistance/trade/investment; and transnational kleptocracy.

Forum Overview image: Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow Dolgion Aldar and Fellowships Program Director speak during Aldar’s event presentation, “Thirty Years After Mongolia’s Democratic Revolution: Has Democracy Delivered for All?” on February 18, 2020.


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

In Focus: Defending the Integrity of the Information Space

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.

In Focus: Combatting Transnational Kleptocracy

The International Forum for Democratic Studies conducts research, organizes workshops, and publishes materials on the emergence of transnational kleptocracy and its impact on democracy.

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In Focus: Authoritarian Influence

The Forum conducts research, organizes workshops, and publishes materials to understand the instruments of authoritarian influence, particularly in vulnerable democracies.

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Journal of Democracy

Year in Review

Journal of Democracy

Since its first appearance in 1990, the Journal of Democracy has established itself as a leading voice in discussions of the problems and prospects of democracy around the world. The journal explores in depth every aspect of the establishment, consolidation, and maintenance of democracy, including political institutions, parties and elections, federalism, constitutionalism, public opinion, the role of the media, civil society, ethnic conflict, and the threat posed by authoritarianism. 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, and excerpts from speeches and appeals by civil society groups, political leaders, and democratic dissidents.

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  of Democracy attracts both authors and readers from all over the world.

Read more and access to select full-text articles of the Journal of Democracy. 


January 2020 Issue

In the Journal’s thirtieth-anniversary issue, with a special introduction by coeditor Marc F. Plattner, contributors including Francis Fukuyama, Yascha Mounk, and coeditor Larry Diamond discussed the global democratic recession. Alina Mungiu-Pippidi assessed the challenges of good-governance interventions, while contributions by Thomas Carothers and by NED president Carl Gershman explored new directions for democracy promotion. Others highlights included articles by NED’s Christopher Walker, Shanthi Kalathil, and Jessica Ludwig on authoritarian sharp power in the technology sphere; Steven Levitsky and Lucan Ahmad Way on the new face of competitive authoritarianism; Lilia Shevtsova on Russia and Ukraine; Minxin Pei on China; and Michele Dunne on a new round of protest in the Arab World.

The Forum marked the Journal’s thirtieth anniversary with an event on “Democracy Embattled,” that featured two panel discussions. “The Global State of Democracy,” with Sheri Berman, Thomas Carothers, Steven Levitsky, and Yascha Mounk, and “Authoritarianism: Resurgence and Vulnerabilities,” with Ladan Boroumand, Michele Dunne, Minxin Pei, and Lucan Way.

April 2020 Issue

The April issue featured a cluster examining the global “Pushback Against Populism,” with articles by F. Michael Wuthrich and Melvyn Ingleby on Turkey; Jarosław Kuisz and Karolina Wigura on Central and Eastern Europe; Takis S. Pappas on Greece; and Felipe Burbano de Lara and Carlos de la Torre on Ecuador. Other highlights included Geremie R. Barmé’s translation of an essay by Xu Zhangrun on the covid-19 outbreak in China, as well as contributions from Jeff Conroy-Krutz on popular attitudes and declining media freedom in Africa; Daniel Brumberg and Maryam Ben Salem on the state of Tunisia’s democratic transition; and Sarah Repucci on Freedom House’s global survey for 2019.

July 2020 Issue

The July issue, introduced by new coeditor William J. Dobson, included articles by Nadège Rolland on China’s pandemic-era influence efforts; William A. Galston on liberal democracy’s vulnerabilities; and Erica Chenoweth on the rise and prospects of nonviolent civil resistance. Articles by Javier Corrales and Misagh Parsa discussed the persistence of authoritarian regimes in Venezuela and Iran, respectively, while a second article cluster analyzed the disruptive impacts of social media in Africa and Latin America. Marlene Laruelle explored the interplay of state and society in Russia’s promotion of illiberalism, and Gi-Wook Shin considered polarization’s troubling impact on South Korean democracy.

October 2020 Issue

This issue’s lead set of articles examined the pandemic responses of several large emerging-market democracies, with contributions from Amy Erica Smith on Brazil; Rahul Mukherji on India; and Nicoli Nattrass and Jeremy Seekings on South Africa. Elsewhere in this issue, articles by Sławomir Sierakowski and by Lucan Ahmad Way investigated the events leading up to mass protests in Belarus. Tom Ginsburg considered how authoritarian regimes are working to reshape international law, while Glenn Tiffert examined similar efforts in the field of intellectual inquiry. In other highlights, Victoria Tin-bor Hui assessed Beijing’s draconian crackdown in Hong Kong, and David Pion-Berlin and Igor Acácio discussed the new tradeoffs of civil-military relations in Latin American democracies.

Journal of Democracy

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

Year in Review

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

Reagan-Fascell fellowships focus on the political, 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.

Read about the 2020 Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows.

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

Democracy Resource Center

Year in Review


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.

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 pro-democracy groups worldwide 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 apps. Through WorldCat the Democracy Resource Center is connected to a network of 72,000 libraries from 170 different countries and territories. Visit the catalog.

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.

Click here to learn more about the Democracy Resource Center. 

World Movement for Democracy

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 the NED facilitates information sharing, networking, and solidarity building to bolster democratic movements and leverage support provided by democracy assistance organizations such as the NED. Learn more about the World Movement and its activities.

Defending Democratic Space

Civil society activists and everyday citizens increasingly face restrictions on their freedoms in both physical and digital spaces. The World Movement helps civil society organizations (CSOs) understand their rights to peacefully assemble and associate, collaborates to reform repressive laws, and highlights the stories of activists at risk.

Right to Receive Funding

Funding from donors helps CSOs fulfill their missions and contributes to their sustainability. However, many authoritarian governments restrict civil society’s access to funding to impede its ability to hold leaders accountable. Through its Right to Receive Funding project, the World Movement strengthens international human rights norms and develops advocacy tools for defending CSOs’ right to receive funding. Check out the resource hub.

In 2020, the World Movement mobilized a group of 25 CSOs around the world to contribute to developing the United Nations Human Rights Committee’s General Comments #37 on Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which protects the right to peaceful assembly. The group’s advocacy resulted in the inclusion of a provision in the General Comment that supports the right of activists and CSOs to receive resources to support their work. General Comments are UN Human Rights Committee’s official interpretations of provisions in binding international human rights laws, making the General Comment #37, published in July 2020, the strongest international mechanism yet for protecting civil society’s right to receive funding.

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 Overview photo: Senegalese rapper Moonaya was a featured artist in the World Movement for Democracy’s “Music as a Messenger of Democracy” campaign.

Click here to learn more about NED’s World Movement for Democracy. 

Report of the Independent Auditors

Report of the Independent Auditors Overview

We have audited the accompanying financial statements of National Endowment for Democracy (the Endowment), which comprise the balance sheet as of September 30, 2020, 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, 2020, 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 2019 financial statements, and we have expressed an unmodified opinion on those audited financial statements in our report dated April 20, 2020. In our opinion the summarized comparative information presented herein as of and for the year ended September 30, 2019, is consistent, in all material respects, with the audited financial statements from which it has been derived.

Emphasis of Matter

As disclosed in Notes 1 and 9 to the financial statements, during the year ended September 30, 2020 the Endowment adopted the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issued Accounting Standards Update (ASU) 2016-02, Leases (Topic 842). Additionally, as disclosed in Note 1 to the financial statements, during September 30, 2020, the Endowment adopted ASU 2018-08, Not-for-Profit Entities (Topic 958): Clarifying the Scope and the Accounting Guidance for Contributions Received and Contributions Made. Our opinion is not modified with respect to these matters.

Other Reporting Required by Government Auditing Standards

In accordance with Government Auditing Standards, we have also issued our report dated June 18, 2021 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.
June 18, 2021

Link to NED Annual Financial Audit Report – September 30, 2020