In 2023, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) marked its 40th anniversary of supporting freedom around the world, reaffirmed its commitment to courageous partners, and rallied our communities in common cause for a better future.
“This anniversary year, we have witnessed the resilience, innovation, and strength of NED’s partners as they work to demand change and outsmart autocrats in some of the world’s most repressive places,” said Damon Wilson, NED president and chief executive officer. “NED’s work is just as critical today as it was at our founding, as democracy advocates pursue their ongoing quest for freedom and human dignity.”
NED continued to support partners who work for human rights, journalism, transparency, and justice, despite danger and sharpening repression. NED maintained strong support for the NED family core institutes including NDI, IRI, CIPE and the Solidarity Center. In 2023, NED’s Board of Directors approved $283 million for 1,989 projects in 100 countries. In its 40th anniversary year, NED demonstrated how it is building on its legacy to adapt for the future.
Read some 2023 NED highlights from our grantmaking, research, and community of action:
- In November, NED held a special 40th anniversary presentation of the NED Democracy Awards and Democracy Service Medals, recognizing courageous awardees and those who contributed to NED’s legacy. The Democracy Awards honored Afghan independent media, technology trailblazers NetFreedom Pioneers, the women of Iran, and individuals imprisoned or killed for their democratic activism. The Democracy Service Medals honored Bishop Silvio Baez of Nicaragua and President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan. Learn more and watch the event.
- Larry Diamond, a founding Coeditor of the Journal of Democracy, delivered a landmark 20th Seymour Martin Lipset Lecture on Democracy in the World. “If we want to restore global democratic momentum, we must demonstrate that democracy, with freedom and a rule of law, is a morally and practically superior form of government,” said Diamond. “It is not hard to make this case because it is true, but it requires resources, imagination, and renewed confidence both in the moral imperative of this cause and in its enduring promise.” Watch the full Twentieth Annual Seymour Martin Lipset Lecture: “Power, Performance, and Legitimacy.”
- The Journal of Democracy published four quarterly issues and over thirty online essays with analysis and perspectives from leading scholars and practitioners on important elections, events, and trends affecting democratic institutions around the world, from a record-breaking edition focused on India’s democracy to a major preview of what artificial intelligence means for democracy. Subscribe to the Journal to stay up to date on critical democracy issues in 2024.
- Two years after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, NED finalized its resettlement efforts for 1024 former Afghan partners or staff who now are enriching communities across the United States and Canada. In addition, NED maintained its deep support for the people of Afghanistan and featured courageous individuals and organizations who continue to risk everything for an Afghanistan that respects civil liberties, human rights, and freedom for all people. Learn more about how Afghan democracy activists are adapting to build a better future.
- Since the full-scale Russian invasion, NED’s courageous Ukrainian partners have continued their work to document war crimes and atrocities; advocate for international support, mobilize thousands of volunteers across the country; provide independent news, and promote government transparency and accountability. Watch this video about these modern-day heroes as they continue their fight for freedom against Russian aggression.
- Facing “Autocracy Inc.,” the World Movement for Democracy at NED convened Democracy United by hosting democracy movement leaders from 16 African countries in Lusaka, Zambia. Participants shared that democracy is important to them because it gives power to the people and gives everyone a chance to be heard.
- Joining seven organizations, NED mobilized support for the release of Vladimir Kara-Murza and all political prisoners detained in Russia. Watch: Free Vladimir Kara-Murza.
- NED’s International Forum for Democratic Studies published multiple reports about artificial intelligence, kleptocracy, and authoritarian information operations. NED Vice President for Studies and Analysis Christopher Walker and Journal of Democracy co-editors William J. Dobson and Tarek Masoud also edited a new book, Defending Democracy in an Age of Sharp Power, that explores how authoritarian regimes are undermining democracies from within. Watch a discussion with the authors.
- The Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) at NED published reports and blogs highlighting trends for independent media worldwide, including how to reward journalistic ethics online, chilling legislation for press freedom, and how the business community can support independent media.
- NED Board members traveled to Medellín and Bogotá, Colombia in its first-ever international board meeting. The group met with multiple NED partners and representatives from NED’s four core institutes.
- NED’s Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows Program hosted from Belarus, Brazil, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Maldives, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, and Tanzania. The Hurford Youth Fellowship Program welcomed four young democracy activists from Paraguay, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, and Turkey. The Carl Gershman Fund for Democracy Advocates at Risk, which provides support to embattled activists when their work puts them at risk, has assisted 23 democracy advocates from 15 countries.