The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is issuing a comprehensive new study examining the efforts of foreign governments to impede U.S. programs for democracy assistance. The report was prepared at the request of U.S. Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who served on the NED Board of Directors for nine years. NED President Carl Gershman will present the report tomorrow, when he is scheduled to testify before the Committee at 9:30 a.m.
The 52-page report, which draws upon the experiences of NED’s grantees, including its four affiliated institutes, as well as the research of the International Center for Not for Profit Law (www.icnl.org), asserts that government efforts to constrain democracy assistance have recently intensified and now seriously impede democracy assistance in a number of states. This backlash is particularly pronounced in the former Soviet states of Eurasia, as well as in China, Venezuela, Egypt and Zimbabwe. Representatives of democracy assistance NGOs have been harassed, offices closed and staff expelled. Even more vulnerable are local grantees and project partners who have been threatened, assaulted, prosecuted, and imprisoned. Other government tactics include funding for anti-democratic forces, and the creation of officially-sanctioned NGOs to frustrate genuine democratization.
Despite these developments, the report documents that the demand for democratic assistance is greater than ever, and it emphasizes that there is a long history of successful democracy assistance, even in very challenging circumstances. The report concludes with a number of concrete recommendations for Congressional action to counter the new backlash.
The full report can be found on the NED website at www.ned.org.
NED is a private, nonprofit, grant-making organization created in 1983 to strengthen democratic institutions around the world. It is active in more than 90 countries, supporting grassroots, democratic initiatives. More information about NED can be found at www.ned.org.