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.
International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
Feminist quotes to inspire you on the International Women's Day
Belle Knox: How the porn star student from Duke University became bigger than Justin Bieber
International Women's Day 2014: Mothers and daughters describe their hopes and dreams in touching photographs
Liam Neeson on death of wife Natasha Richardson: ‘When I hear the door opening, I still think I’m going to hear her’
Apple's Tim Cook: Business isn’t just about making profit
Thousands of young people forced to go without food after benefits wrongly stopped under 'draconian' new sanctions regime
Ukraine crisis: New navy chief 'defects' and surrenders Crimean HQ as Putin claims ultranationalists forced intervention
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
- 1 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 2 Academy members voted for Oscar-winning 12 Years A Slave 'without watching it'
- 3 Orgasm machine to deliver climax at the push of a button
- 4 Liam Neeson turned down James Bond role to marry Natasha Richardson
- 5 Livr: A social network only for drunk people
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: A small but growing chain of boutique hot...
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: The company works with Tier 1 FTSE 100 Ba...
£45 - 60k Per Annum: Charter Selection: Highly profitable leisure brand, marke...
£30000 - £50000 per annum + Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: Residenti...