Policy Briefs

In a new report, Investing in Freedom: Democracy Support in the U.S. Budget, Freedom House examines the President’s FY 2014 request for democracy and human rights activities and urges Congress to fully fund the international affairs budget to support the achievement of strategic U.S. foreign policy goals.


Photo Credit: Ammar Abdulrasool

Civil society is increasingly coming under assault around the world, as authoritarian governments grow more bold and sophisticated in stifling independent groups that monitor elections, expose corruption, or otherwise give citizens a voice in how they are governed. 

Freedom of expression and the practice of journalism have been held hostage by the spiral of violence, which threatens to undermine the very foundations of Mexico’s democracy. Given the serious repercussions on democratic governance and stability, President Obama should give the protection of journalists a prominent place on the bilateral agenda.

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The U.S. government's half-hearted approach to the Syrian conflict will backfire, argues a policy brief released by Freedom House. As nearly 70,000 are dead in a war that threatens to spill over into the broader region, the US has largely stood on the sidelines, contemplating the day after the fall of the regime but doing little to bring it about or influence the long-term outcome.

Mexico has become one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. As organized crime, drug-trafficking and corruption continue to rise, there has been a spike in murders of journalists who have sought to draw attention to these issues. Since 2000 more than 82 journalists have been killed, and a high number have been kidnapped or disappeared, as a result of their work. Vulnerable journalists, who are increasingly being targeted by drug cartels, have nowhere to turn for help, as government authorities are often incapable or unwilling to protect them, and are sometimes even complicit in the attacks. These factors have instilled a culture of fear among journalists that has resulted in mass self-censorship.

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Freedom House provides recommendations to the Organization of American States' Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on how to improve the mandate and current practices of the organization, and examines issues including precautionary measures, the promotion of human rights and the IACHR's financial situation.

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"Assessing the 2012 UN Human Rights Council Elections” evaluates the 18 candidates running for seats on the UN Human Rights Council to determine if they meet the UN’s stated criteria that members must “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights.”

More than a dozen of the nation’s leading human rights organizations and experts released a policy paper on 10 human rights priorities for the next administration. This paper serves as a roadmap to navigate increasingly complex foreign policy issues and strengthen the United States’ position as a global leader in human rights.

The U.S. Congress should fully fund the Administration’s request for $56 billion to support international affairs for Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, a 2% increase over FY 2012. This budget is one of the primary tools the United States uses to maintain leadership abroad, pursue its international priorities and promote American values.

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Amid the political convulsions wracking the Middle East, few prolonged protests have been as ignored by the West, particularly the United States, as those in the tiny Gulf monarchy of Bahrain. Despite the regime’s brutality, which has targeted peaceful protesters, human rights activists and medical personnel, the United States recently signed a multimillion-dollar arms deal (currently on hold) with the country and has remained largely silent amid a crackdown that proportionally surpasses the magnitude of any other in the region. Despite the fact that Bahrain is home to the US Fifth Fleet and has received the coveted designation of ‘non-NATO ally’, the people of Bahrain have the same right to advocate for democratic change as their counterparts in the region.      

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