2011: A year when freedom lost ground
Despite the Arab Spring, the world was more repressed than ever by the end of last year, a new report reveals
The world was a less free place last year despite the toppling of dictators in the Middle East, which represented the "most significant challenge to authoritarian rule since the fall of Soviet Communism", according to a report.
The Freedom in the World report – produced annually by the NGO Freedom House – showed that while the Arab Spring brought major gains for political rights and civil liberties, there have also been "harsh and sometimes murderous reaction[s]" to the uprisings in the Middle East, China and other regions.
Overall, the levels of freedom enjoyed by people in 26 countries declined in 2011, while only 12 showed a net improvement, according to the report. It is the sixth consecutive year in which the number of countries becoming "less free" has outnumbered those becoming more so.
"The Middle East is a part of the world that has been immobile and apathetic for decades. But now, things are actually happening that are probably the most important gains for freedom in a decade," said Arch Puddington, Freedom House's vice-president for research.
"On balance, there has been a slight decline across the world but in the key areas, there has been a move towards freedom. In areas untouched by the democratic revolution, you are seeing movement, so it is encouraging.
"In Tunisia and Egypt, gains this year can turn into retreats in the future," added Mr Puddington. "One of the world's biggest threats is Egypt, it is a huge challenge. There are elections, the constitution will be written and the formation of a government is ahead, all potentially major challenges to freedom. It is the most important country in the Arab world. And it also represents the biggest opportunity for the future."
He identified Syria as a major security issue and added: "we are concerned about democracies which are slipping: Ukraine, Turkey and South Africa, for example."
The report examines the ability of individuals to exercise political and civil rights in a total of 195 countries and 14 territories around the world, based on the events of last year. It assigns each a score out of seven and a status of free – the lower score the freer – partly free, or not free.
The countries are then ranked according to the change in the level of freedom enjoyed compared to 2010.
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting position has risen ...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Internal Sales Executive ...
£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises in the installa...
£30000 - £35500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...