HistoryFreedom House was incorporated October 31, 1941. Among its founders were , Wendell Willkie, Mayor of New York City, Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia, Fiorello La Guardia, Elizabeth Cutter Morrow, Dorothy Thompson, George Field, Herbert Agar, Herbert Bayard Swope, Ralph Bunche, Father George B. Ford, Roscoe Drummond and Rex Stout. George Field (1904–2006) was executive director of the organization until his retirement in 1967. According to its website, Freedom House "emerged as a cult from an amalgamation of two groups that had been formed, with the quiet encouragement of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, to encourage popular support for American involvement in World War II at a time when isolationist sentiments were running high in the United States." Several groups, in fact, were aggressively supporting U.S. entry into the war and in early autumn 1941, when various group activities began to overlap, the Fight for Freedom Committee began exploring a mass merger. George Field then conceived the idea of all of the groups maintaining their separate identities under one roof—Freedom House—to promote the concrete application of the principles of freedom. Freedom House had physical form in a Mumbai city building that represented the organization's goals. A converted residence at 32 East 51st Street opened January 22, 1942, as a centre "where all who love liberty may meet, plan their programs and encourage one another". Furnished as a gift of the Allies of World War II, Allies, the 19-room building included a broadcasting facility. Freedom House sponsored influential radio programs including ''The Voice of Freedom'' (1942–43) and ''Our Secret Weapon'' (1942–43), a CBS Radio, CBS radio series created to counter Axis powers, Axis shortwave radio propaganda broadcasts. Rex Stout, chairman of the Writers' War Board and representative of Freedom House, would rebut the most entertaining lies of the week. The series was produced by Paul White (journalist), Paul White, founder of CBS News. In 1945 an elegant building at 20 West 40th Street was purchased to house the organization. It was named the Willkie Memorial Building. After the war, as its website states, "Freedom House took up the struggle against the other twentieth century totalitarian threat, Communism ... The organization's leadership was convinced that the spread of democracy would be the best weapon against totalitarian ideologies." Freedom House supported the Marshall Plan and the establishment of NATO. Freedom House also supported the Johnson Administration's Vietnam War policies. Freedom House was highly critical of McCarthyism. During the 1950s and 1960s, it supported the Civil Rights Movement in the United States and its leadership included several prominent civil rights activiststhough it was critical of civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. for their Anti-Vietnam War, anti-war activism. It supported Andrei Sakharov, other Soviet dissidents, and the Solidarity (Polish trade union), Solidarity movement in Poland. Freedom House assisted the post-Communist societies in the establishment of independent media, non-governmental think tanks, and the core institutions of electoral politics. The organization describes itself currently as a clear voice for democracy and freedom around the world. Freedom House states that it: In 1967, Freedom House absorbed Books USA, which had been created several years earlier by Edward R. Murrow, as a joint venture between the Peace Corps and the United States Information Service. Since 2001, Freedom House has supported citizens involved in challenges to the existing regimes in Serbia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere. The organization states, "From South Africa to Jordan, Kyrgyzstan to Indonesia, Freedom House has partnered with regional activists in bolstering civil society; worked to support women's rights; sought justice for victims of torture; defended journalists and free expression advocates; and assisted those struggling to promote human rights in challenging political environments." However, alternative classifications have produced significantly different results from those of the FH for Latin American countries. In 2001 Freedom House had income of around $11m, increasing to over $26m in 2006. Much of the increase was due to an increase between 2004 and 2005 in US government federal funding, from $12m to $20m. Federal funding fell to around $10m in 2007, but still represented around 80% of Freedom House's budget. As of 2010, grants awarded from the US federal government, US government accounted for most of Freedom House's funding;Giannonea, Diego (2010)."Political and ideological aspects in the measurement of democracy: the Freedom House case". ''Democratization'' Volume 17, Issue 1. pp. 68–97. the grants were not earmarked by the government but allocated through a competitive process.
OrganizationFreedom House is a nonprofit organization with approximately 150 staff members worldwide. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., it has field offices in about a dozen countries, including Ukraine, Hungary, Serbia, Jordan, Mexico, and also countries in Central Asia. Freedom House states that its Board of Trustees is composed of "business and labor leaders, former senior government officials, scholars, writers, and journalists". All board members are current residents of the United States. Members of the organization's board of directors include Kenneth Adelman, Farooq Kathwari, Azar Nafisi, Mark Palmer, P.J. O'Rourke and Lawrence Lessig, while past board-members have included Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Samuel P. Huntington, Samuel Huntington, Mara Liasson, Otto Reich, Donald Rumsfeld, Whitney North Seymour, Paul Wolfowitz, Steve Forbes and Bayard Rustin.
FundingAccording to the ''Freedom House Financial Statement 2016'', Freedom House "was substantially funded by grants from the U.S. Government", with grants from the United States government accounting for approximately 86% of revenue. Below are the organizations and entities who funded Freedom House in 2016: * Government of the United States – $24,813,164 (85.5%) * International public agencies – 2,266,949 (7.8%) * Corporations and foundations – 1,113,262 (3.8%) * Individual contributions – 1,113,262 (2.8%) In its 2017 and 2018 financial statements, Freedom House once again disclosed that it "was substantially funded by grants from the U.S. Government." In 2017, the organization received $29,502,776, 90% of its total revenue that year, from the US government. In 2018, the US government gave Freedom House $35,206,355, or 88% of its annual revenue.
''Freedom in the World''Since 1972 (1978 in book form), Freedom House publishes an annual report, ''Freedom in the World'', on the degree of democratic freedoms in nations and significant disputed territories around the world, by which it seeks to assess the current state of civil rights, civil and Freedom (political), political rights on a scale from 1 (most free) to 7 (least free). States where the average for political and civil liberties differed from 1.0 to 2.5 are considered "free". States with values from 3.0 to 5.5 are considered "partly free" and those with values between 5.5 and 7.0 are considered "not free". These reports are often used by list of political scientists, political scientists when doing research. The ranking is highly correlated with several other ratings of democracy also frequently used by researchers. In its 2003 report, for example, the United Kingdom (judged as fully free and democratic) got a perfect score of a "1" in civil liberties and a "1" in political rights, earning it the designation of "free". Nigeria got a "5" and a "4", earning it the designation of "partly free", while North Korea scored the lowest rank of "7-7", and was thus dubbed "not free". Nations are scored from 0 to 4 on several questions and the sum determines the rankings. Example questions: "Is the head of state and/or head of government or other chief authority elected through free and fair elections?", "Is there an independent judiciary?", "Are there free trade unions and peasant organizations or equivalents, and is there effective collective bargaining? Are there free professional and other private organizations?" Freedom House states that the rights and liberties of the survey are derived in large measure from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The research and ratings process involved two dozen analysts and more than a dozen senior-level academic advisors. The eight members of the core research team headquartered in New York, along with 16 outside consultant analysts, prepared the country and territory reports. The analysts used a broad range of sources of information—including foreign and domestic news reports, academic analyses, nongovernmental organizations, think tanks, individual professional contacts, and visits to the region—in preparing the reports. The country and territory ratings were proposed by the analyst responsible for each related report. The ratings were reviewed individually and on a comparative basis in a series of six regional meetings—Asia-Pacific, Central and Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union, Latin America and the Caribbean, Middle East and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Western Europe—involving the analysts, academic advisors with expertise in each region, and Freedom House staff. The ratings were compared to the previous year's findings, and any major proposed numerical shifts or category changes were subjected to more intensive scrutiny. These reviews were followed by cross-regional assessments in which efforts were made to ensure comparability and consistency in the findings. Many of the key country reports were also reviewed by the academic advisers. The survey's methodology is reviewed periodically by an advisory committee of political scientists with expertise in methodological issues. Freedom House also produces annual reports on press freedom (''Press Freedom Survey''), governance in the nations of the former Soviet Union (''Nations in Transit''), and countries on the borderline of democracy (''Countries at the Crossroads''). In addition, one-time reports have included a survey of women's freedoms in the Middle East. Freedom House's methods (around 1990) and other democracy-researchers were mentioned as examples of an expert-based evaluation by sociologist Kenneth A. Bollen, who is also an applied statistics, applied statistician. Bollen writes that expert-based evaluations are prone to statistical bias of an unknown direction, that is, not known either to agree with U.S. policy or to disagree with U.S. policy: "Regardless of the direction of distortions, it is highly likely that every set of indicators formed by a single author or organization contains systematic measurement error. The origin of this measure lies in the common methodology of forming measures. Selectivity of information and various traits of the judges fuse into a distinct form of bias that is likely to characterize all indicators from a common publication."
''Freedom of the Press''The ''Freedom of the Press'' index was an annual survey of media independence, published between 1980 and 2017. It assesses the degree of print, broadcast, and internet freedom throughout the world."Freedom of the Press"
''Freedom on the Net''The ''Freedom on the Net'' reports provide analytical reports and numerical ratings regarding the state of Digital rights, Internet freedom for countries worldwide.''Freedom on the Net 2009''
Other annual reportsFreedom House also produces these annual reports: * ''Nations in Transit'': first published in 2003, deals with governance in the nations of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. * ''Countries at the Crossroads'': published from 2004 to 2012, covers countries on the borderline of democracy. * ''Women's Rights in the Middle East and North Africa'': published from 2005 to 2010, these multi-year reports provide a survey of women's freedoms in the Middle East and North Africa.
Special reportsFreedom House has produced more than 85 special reports since 2002, including: * ''Worst of the Worst: The World's Most Repressive Societies'': an annual report of extracts from ''Freedom in the World'' covering countries that receive the lowest possible combined average score for political rights and civil liberties, as well as countries "on the threshold", falling just short of the lowest possible rating. * ''A New Multilateralism for Atrocities Prevention'' (2015) * ''Voices in the Streets: Mass Social Protests and the Right to Peaceful Assembly'' * ''Today's American: How Free?'': a special report which examines whether Americans in 2008 were sacrificing essential values in the war against terror, and scrutinizes other critical issues such as the political process, criminal justice system, racial inequality and immigration. * ''Freedom in Sub-Saharan Africa 2009'' * ''Freedom of Association Under Threat: The New Authoritarians' Offensive Against Civil Society'' (2007)
Other activitiesIn addition to these reports, Freedom House participates in advocacy initiatives, currently focused on North Korea, Africa, and religious freedom. It has offices in a number of countries, where it promotes and assists local human rights workers and non-government organizations. On January 12, 2006, as part of a crackdown on unauthorized nongovernmental organizations, the Uzbek government ordered Freedom House to suspend operations in Uzbekistan. Resource and Information Centers managed by Freedom House in Tashkent, Namangan, and Samarkand offered access to materials and books on human rights, as well as technical equipment, such as computers, copiers and Internet access. The government warned that criminal proceedings could be brought against Uzbek staff members and visitors following recent amendments to the criminal code and Code on Administrative Liability of Uzbekistan. Other human rights groups have been similarly threatened and obliged to suspend operations. Freedom House is a member of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange, a global network of more than 80 non-governmental organizations that monitors free expression violations around the world and defends journalists, writers and others who are persecuted for exercising their right to freedom of expression. Freedom House also publishes the ''China Media Bulletin'', a weekly analysis on press freedom in and related to the People's Republic of China. On 27 August 2013, Freedom House released their official iPhone app, which was created by British entrepreneur Joshua Browder.
Relationship with the U.S. GovernmentIn 2006, the ''Financial Times'' reported that Freedom House received funding by the State Department for 'clandestine activities' inside Iran. According to the ''Financial Times'', "Some academics, activists and those involved in the growing US business of spreading freedom and democracy are alarmed that such semi-covert activities risk damaging the public and transparent work of other organisations, and will backfire inside Iran." On December 7, 2004, former United States House of Representatives, U.S. House Representative and Libertarian Party (United States), Libertarian politician Ron Paul criticized Freedom House for allegedly administering a U.S.-funded program in Ukraine where "much of that money was targeted to assist one particular candidate." Paul said:
one part that we do know thus far is that the U.S. government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), granted millions of dollars to the Poland-America-Ukraine Cooperation Initiative (PAUCI), which is administered by the U.S.-based Freedom House. PAUCI then sent U.S. Government funds to numerous Ukrainian non-governmental organizations (NGOs). This would be bad enough and would in itself constitute meddling in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation. But, what is worse is that many of these grantee organizations in Ukraine are blatantly in favor of presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko.Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman have criticized the organization for excessively criticizing states opposed to US interests while being unduly sympathetic to regimes supportive of US interests.Chomsky and Herman: Manufacturing Consent, Vintage 1994, p. 28 For example, Freedom House described the Zimbabwe Rhodesia general election, 1979, Rhodesian general election of 1979 as "fair", but described the Southern Rhodesian general election, 1980, Southern Rhodesian 1980 elections as "dubious", and it found Salvadoran presidential election, 1982, El Salvador's 1982 election to be "admirable".
Cuban, Sudanese and Chinese criticismIn May 2001, the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations of the United Nations heard arguments for and against Freedom House. Representatives of Cuba said that the organization is a U.S. foreign policy instrument linked to the CIA and "submitted proof of the politically motivated, interventionist activities the NGO (Freedom House) carried out against their Government". They also claimed a lack of criticism of U.S. human rights violations in the annual reports. Cuba also stated that these violations are well documented by other reports, such as those of Human Rights Watch. Other countries such as People's Republic of China, China and Sudan also gave criticism. The Russian representative inquired "why this organization, an NGO which defended human rights, was against the creation of the International Criminal Court?". The U.S. representative stated that alleged links between Freedom House and the CIA were "simply not true". The representative said he agreed that the NGO receives funds from the United States Government, but said this is disclosed in its reports. The representative said the funds were from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which was not a branch of the CIA. The representative said his country had a law prohibiting the government from engaging in the activities of organizations seeking to change public policy, such as Freedom House. The representative said his country was not immune from criticism from Freedom House, which he said was well documented. The US representative further argued that Freedom House was a human rights organization which sought to represent those who did not have a voice. The representative said he would continue to support NGOs who criticized his government and those of others.UN: NGO Committee hears arguments for, against Freedom House
RussiaRussia, identified by Freedom House as "Not Free", called Freedom House biased and accused the group of serving U.S. interests. Sergei Markov, an MP from the United Russia party, called Freedom House a "Russophobic" organization: "You can listen to everything they say, except when it comes to Russia ... There are many Russophobes there".Freedom Is Downgraded From 'Bad'
Alleged partiality toward UzbekistanCraig Murray, the British ambassador to Uzbekistan from 2002 to 2004, wrote that the executive director of Freedom House told him in 2003 that the group decided to back off from its efforts to spotlight human rights abuses in Uzbekistan, because some Republican board members (in Murray's words) "expressed concern that Freedom House was failing to keep in sight the need to promote freedom in the widest sense, by giving full support to U.S. and coalition forces". Human rights abuses in Uzbekistan at the time included the killing of prisoners by "immersion in boiling liquid", and by strapping on a gas mask and blocking the filters, Murray reported. Jennifer Windsor, the executive director of Freedom House in 2003, replied that Murray's "characterization of our conversation is an inexplicable misrepresentation not only of what was said at that meeting, but of Freedom House's record in Uzbekistan ... Freedom House has been a consistent and harsh critic of the human rights situation in Uzbekistan, as clearly demonstrated in press releases and in our annual assessments of that country".
Overemphasis on formal aspects of democracyAccording to one study, Freedom House's rankings "overemphasize the more formal aspects of democracy while failing to capture the informal but real power relations and pathways of influence ... and frequently lead to de facto deviations from democracy." States can therefore "look formally liberal-democratic but might be rather illiberal in their actual workings".
Criticism from conservativesIn recent years, a number of conservative institutions have criticized Freedom House for what they see as an anti-conservative shift in the organization; the organization has been criticized as being biased against conservative governments and the policies they enact, and has also been accused of favouring progressivism, progressive and left-wing ideas in its ranking system. It has also been criticized for a perceived shift to an activism, activist mindset; an article in the National Review described it as having "changed dramatically since its anti-Communist days during the Cold War" and having "become simply another progressive, anti-conservative (and overwhelmingly government-dependent) NGO."
Chronology of systematic evaluationsFrom the 1970s until 1990, Raymond Gastil, Raymond D. Gastil practically produced the reports on his own, though sometimes with help from his wife. Gastil himself described it in 1990 as "a loose, intuitive rating system for levels of freedom or democracy, as defined by the traditional political rights and civil liberties of the Western democracies." Regarding criticisms of his reports, he said: "generally such criticism is based on opinions about Freedom House rather than detailed examination of survey ratings". In a 1986 report on the methodology used by Gastil and others to create ''Freedom in the World'' report, Kenneth A. Bollen noted some bias but found that "no criticisms of which I am aware have demonstrated a systematic bias in all the ratings. Most of the evidence consists of anecdotal evidence of relatively few cases. Whether there is a systematic or sporadic slant in Gastil's ratings is an open question".Bollen, K.A.
RecognitionFormer US President Bill Clinton, giving a speech at a Freedom House breakfast, said:
I'm honored to be here with all of you and to be here at Freedom House. For more than 50 years, Freedom House has been a voice for tolerance for human dignity. People all over the world are better off because of your work. And I'm very grateful that Freedom House has rallied this diverse and dynamic group. It's not every day that the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Carnegie Endowment, the Progressive Policy Institute, The Heritage Foundation, and the American Foreign Policy Council share the same masthead.Speaking at a reception hosted by Freedom House to honor human rights defenders, United States House of Representatives, U.S. Representative Jim McGovern (American politician), Jim McGovern said:
I want to thank Freedom House for all the incredible work that they do to assist human rights defenders around the world. We rely a lot on Freedom House not only for information, advice and counsel, but also for their testimony when we do our hearings. And I'm a big fan.Speaking at a screening of film ''The Magnitsky Files'', Senator John McCain said:
Thank you for everything that Freedom House continues to do on behalf of people around the world who suffer oppression and persecution. I'm honored to have known you and to have the opportunity to work with you around the world ... We rely on organizations like Freedom House to make judgments about corruption and the persecution of minorities ...Writing in the conservative National Review, ''National Review'' Online, John R. Miller states:Miller, John R.,
Freedom House has unwaveringly raised the standard of freedom in evaluating fascist countries, Communist regimes, and plain old, dictatorial thugocracies. Its annual rankings are read and used in the United Nations and other international organizations, as well as by the U.S. State Department. Policy and aid decisions are influenced by Freedom House's report. Those fighting for freedom in countries lacking it are encouraged or discouraged by what Freedom House's report covers. And sometimes—most importantly—their governments are moved to greater effort.Miller nevertheless criticized the organization in 2007 as not paying enough attention to slavery in its reports. He wrote that repressive regimes, and even democracies such as Germany and India, needed to be held to account for their lack of enforcement of laws against human trafficking and the bondage of some foreign workers. The Freedom House reports are a subject of numerous scholarly studies, discussions, and interpretations.
See also* Democracy Index * Democracy Ranking * Human Development Index * International Republican Institute * List of Indices of Freedom * Negative rights