In an effort to stifle opposition voices, a growing number of governments are limiting the actions of domestic civil society activists and restricting citizens’ freedom of association. Often accomplished through legal means—such as lengthy or cumbersome registration and reporting processes for all nongovernmental organizations—the restrictions also hamper the ability of international organizations and governments to assist civil society within these countries. While this trend has been well documented in Not Free countries such as Egypt and Russia, it has also emerged in Partly Free countries such as Venezuela and Malaysia, and even in Free countries, such as Peru. Freedom House aims to bring greater public awareness to this worrying trend.
Freedom of association was at the top of the agenda at the 2010 Human Rights Summit
, hosted by Freedom House and Human Rights First, which brought together many of the new generation of dissidents and human rights advocates with U.S. policy makers, officials from other democratic governments, and influential figures from the world of media, think tanks, universities, NGOs, and human rights and freedom of expression activists. The summit produced an Action Plan
for the Obama Administration, other governments and multilateral institutions in defense of democratic values and fundamental human rights. It also gave government officials the opportunity to hear from activists currently engaged in frontline struggles for freedom and democracy.