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Freedom House

Freedom House
Formation October 31, 1941
Type Research institute
Think tank
Headquarters Washington, D.C.
United States
Key people William H. Taft IV
Chair, Board of Trustees
David J. Kramer
Executive Director
(October 4, 2010–present)
Staff approx. 150[1]

Freedom House is a U.S.-based[2] NGO) that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom, and human rights.[3] Freedom House was founded in October 1941. Wendell Willkie and Eleanor Roosevelt served as its first honorary chairpersons. It describes itself as a "clear voice for democracy and freedom around the world".

The organization's annual Freedom in the World report, which assesses each country's degree of political freedoms and civil liberties, is frequently cited by political scientists, journalists, and policy-makers. Freedom of the Press and Freedom of the Net,[4] which monitor censorship, intimidation and violence against journalists, and public access to information, are among its other signature reports.

The organization is directed by David J. Kramer, former head of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the United States Department of State.


  • History 1
  • Organization 2
  • Reports 3
    • Freedom in the World 3.1
    • Freedom of the Press 3.2
    • Other reports 3.3
  • Other activities 4
  • Criticism 5
    • Cuban, Sudanese and Chinese criticism 5.1
    • Russia 5.2
    • U.S. domestic criticism 5.3
    • Alleged partiality toward Uzbekistan 5.4
  • Systematic evaluations 6
  • Recognition 7
  • See also 8
  • Notes 9
  • External links 10


Freedom House was founded in October 1941. Among its founding members were George Field,

  • Freedom House
  • "The Freedom House Files", Diana Barahona, Monthly Review, March 1, 2007.
  • Freedom House Form 990 tax returns for: 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012.
  • Freedom House Records, 1933–2013: Finding Aid, Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, Princeton University Library.
  • George Field Collection of Freedom House Files, 1933–1990 (Bulk 1941–1969): Finding Aid, Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, Princeton University Library.

External links

  1. ^ a b "Our Leadership". Freedom House. Archived from the original on October 13, 2012. Retrieved October 13, 2012. 
  2. ^ William Ide (January 11, 2000). "Freedom House Report: Asia Sees Some Significant Progress". Voice of America. Archived from the original on October 13, 2012. Retrieved October 13, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Cuba After Fidel - What Next?". Voice of America. October 31, 2009. Archived from the original on October 13, 2012. Retrieved October 13, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "Freedom on the Net 2013", Freedom House, 3 October 2013. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  5. ^ History of the Freedom House, George Field Collection of Freedom House Files, 1933–1990 (Bulk 1941–1969): Finding Aid, Princeton University Library; Freedom House Statement on the Passing of George Field (June 1, 2006). Retrieved January 15, 2011
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Our History". Freedom House. Archived from the original on October 13, 2012. Retrieved October 13, 2012. 
  7. ^ Dunning, John, On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 1998 ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3 hardcover; revised edition of Tune In Yesterday (1976). p. 529.
  8. ^ McAleer, John, Rex Stout: A Biography. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1977 ISBN 0-316-55340-9. p. 305.
  9. ^ "Johnson Is Backed By Freedom House On Vietnam Policy". New York Times. July 21, 1965. Retrieved October 7, 2014. The 'silent center,' most of the American people, should be heard from on Vietnam, Freedom House said yesterday in a 'Credo of Support' for the Johnson Administration's policies in Southeast Asia. 
  10. ^ "CURB BY CONGRESS URGED; Freedom House Seeks to Protect Citizens From Unfair Attack". New York Times. January 2, 1952. Retrieved October 17, 2014. The public affairs committee of Freedom House proposed yesterday that Congress revise its rules to 'protect citizens from unfair and unwarranted attack' by Senators and Representatives who shield themselves behind Congressional immunity. Asserting that the methods of political and personal attack exemplified in Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, Republican from Wisconsin, injured citizens both within and out of Government without just cause, the Freedom House statement said... 
  11. ^ "Freedom House Scores Dr. King". New York Times. May 21, 1967. Retrieved October 17, 2014. Freedom House severely criticized the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. yesterday for lending his 'mantle of respectability' to an anti-Vietnam war coalition that includes 'well-known Communist allies and luminaries of the hate-America Left.' 
  12. ^ "Solzhenitsyn and Sakharov Honored by Freedom House". New York Times. December 5, 1973. Retrieved October 17, 2014. Fifteen 'courageous dissenters' in the Soviet Union were chosen here yesterday as winners of the 1973 Freedom Award by the nonprofit private organization known as Freedom House. The organization, which describes itself as dedicated to the strengthening of free societies, cited the novelist Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn and the nuclear physicist Andrei Sakharov, 13 others and their 'unnamed colleagues.' 
  13. ^ "Freedom House Annual Report 2002" (PDF). Freedom House. Retrieved October 13, 2012. 
  14. ^ Barnhisel, Greg; Turner, Catherine (2010). Pressing the Fight: Print, Propaganda, and the Cold War. University of Massachusetts Press. p. 135.  
  15. ^ "Onward the Peace Corps". Milwaukee Journal. December 2, 1964. Retrieved March 27, 2012. 
  16. ^ Allen Kent. "Encyclopedia of library and information science, Volume 38". Chapter on "International Book Donation Programs". p. 239.
  17. ^ Comparative scores for all countries from 1973 to 2006
  18. ^ a b c d Giannonea, Diego (2010)."Political and ideological aspects in the measurement of democracy: the Freedom House case". Democratization Volume 17, Issue 1. pp. 68-97.
  19. ^ Freedom in the World 2013
  20. ^ a b The Limited Robustness of Empirical Findings on Democracy using Highly Correlated Datasets
  21. ^ Illumnia Login The political science journal database Illumina lists between 10 and 20 peer reviewed journal articles referencing the "freedom in the world" report each year
  22. ^ a b Methodology
  23. ^ a b c Freedom House Methodology
  24. ^ Bollen, K.A. (1992) Political Rights and Political Liberties in Nations: An Evaluation of Human Rights Measures, 1950 to 1984. In: Jabine, T.B. and Pierre Claude, R. "Human Rights and Statistics". University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 0-8122-3108-2
  25. ^ "Freedom of the Press 2013". Freedom House. 21 May 2013. Retrieved 22 August 2013. 
  26. ^ "Freedom of the Press", web page, Freedom House. Retrieved May 29, 2011
  27. ^ a b "Freedom of the Press 2011 — Methodology", Karin Karlekar, Freedom House, April 15, 2011, 4 pp.
  28. ^ "An Evaluation of Press Freedom Indicators", Lee B. Becker, Tudor Vlad and, Nancy Nusser, International Communication Gazette, vol.69, no.1 (February 2007), pp. 5-28
  29. ^ "Nations in Transit", Freedom House, 2013. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  30. ^ "Countries at the Crossroads", Freedom House, 2012. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  31. ^ "Worst of the Worst 2012: The World's Most Repressive Societies", Freedom House, 28 June 2012. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  32. ^ "Today's American: How Free?", Freedom House, 2008. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  33. ^ a b Guy Dinmore (March 31, 2006). "Bush enters debate on freedom in Iran". The Financial Times. Retrieved April 6, 2006. (subscription required)
  34. ^ FH Board of Trustees: Mark Palmer
  35. ^ Promotion of Democracy by Nongovernmental Organizations: An Action Agenda - Testimony by Ambassador Mark Palmer before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on June 8, 2006.
  36. ^ a b UN: NGO Committee hears arguments for, against Freedom House
  37. ^ a b Freedom Is Downgraded From 'Bad'
  38. ^ Treisman, Daniel (2011). The Return: Russia's Journey from Gorbachev to Medvedev. Free Press. pp. 341–352.  
  39. ^  
  40. ^ a b c Chomsky and Herman: Manufacturing Consent, Vintage 1994, p28
  41. ^ Glorious Nation of Uzbekistan, By TARA McKELVEY, New York Times Book Review, December 9, 2007. Book review of DIRTY DIPLOMACY: The Rough-and-Tumble Adventures of a Scotch-Drinking, Skirt-Chasing, Dictator-Busting and Thoroughly Unrepentant Ambassador Stuck on the Frontline of the War Against Terror, by Craig Murray.
  42. ^ Jennifer Windsor (December 23, 2007). "Freedom House’s Record". The New York Times. Archived from the original on October 13, 2012. Retrieved October 13, 2012. 
  43. ^ Bollen, K.A., "Political Rights and Political Liberties in Nations: An Evaluation of Human Rights Measures, 1950 to 1984", Human Rights Quarterly, vol.8, no.4 (November 1986), pp.567-591. Also in: Jabine, T.B. and Pierre Claude, R. (Eds.), Human Rights and Statistics, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992, pp.188-215, ISBN 0-8122-3108-2.
  44. ^ a b Bollen, Kenneth A. and Paxton, Pamela, "Subjective Measures of Liberal Democracy", Comparative Political Studies, vol.33, no.1 (February 2000), pp.58-86
  45. ^ Gastil, R. D. (1990). "The Comparative Survey of Freedom: Experiences and Suggestions". Studies in Comparative International Development 25 (1): 25–50.  
  46. ^  
  47. ^ a b c Mainwaring, S.; Brinks, D.; Pérez-Liñán, A. B. (2001). "Classifying Political Regimes in Latin". Studies in Comparative International Development 36 (1): 37–65.  
  48. ^ "Freedom in the World 2010: Methodology", Freedom in the World 2010, Freedom house
  49. ^ Remarks at a Freedom House breakfast - President Bill Clinton speech
  50. ^ McGovern praises 'unsung heroes', April 19, 2012
  51. ^ June 26, 2012 on YouTube
  52. ^ a b Miller, John R., "Does 'Freedom' Mean Freedom From Slavery? A glaring omission., article in National Review Online, February 5, 2007, accessed same day


See also

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.[52]

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."[52]

Writing in the conservative National Review Online, John R. Miller states:

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...[51]

Speaking at a screening of film 'The Magnitsky Files,' Senator John McCain 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.[50]

Speaking at a reception hosted by Freedom House to honor human rights defenders, U.S. Representative Jim McGovern 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, the Progressive Policy Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and the American Foreign Policy Council share the same masthead.[49]
, giving a speech at a Freedom House breakfast, said: Bill ClintonFormer US President


Freedom House does not maintain a culture-bound view of freedom. The methodology of the survey is grounded in basic standards of political rights and civil liberties, derived in large measure from relevant portions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These standards apply to all countries and territories, irrespective of geographical location, ethnic or religious composition, or level of economic development.[48]

Freedom House maintains that its methodology is systematic and not culturally biased:

Another study by Mainwaring, Brink, and Perez-Linanhe found the Freedom Index of Freedom in the World to have a strong positive correlation (at least 80%) with three other democracy indices.[47] Mainwaring et al. wrote that Freedom House's index had "two systematic biases: scores for leftist were tainted by political considerations, and changes in scores are sometimes driven by changes in their criteria rather than changes in real conditions".[47] Nonetheless, when evaluated on Latin American countries yearly, Freedom House's index were strongly and positively correlated with the index of Adam Przeworski and with the index of the authors themselves: They evaluated Pearson's coefficient of linear correlation between their index and Freedom House's index, which was 0.82; among these indices and the two others studied, the correlations were all between 0.80 and 0.86.[47]

The definition of freedom in Gastil (1982) and Freedom House (1990) emphasized liberties rather than the exercise of freedom, according to Adam Przeworski, who gave the following example: In the United States, citizens are free to form political parties and to vote, yet even in presidential elections only half of U.S. "citizens" vote; in the U.S., "the same two parties speak in a commercially sponsored unison".[46]

In 1990, Gastil discussed criticisms of Freedom in the World, stating that "generally such criticism is based on opinions about Freedom House rather than detailed examination of survey ratings".[45]

In several studies of the methodology used by Raymond D. Gastil and others to create Freedom in the World report, Kenneth A. Bollen found that "no criticisms ... 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".[43] Bollen studied the question of ideological bias using multivariate statistics. Using their factor-analytic model for human-rights measurements, Bollen and Paxton estimate that Gastil's method produces a bias of 0.38 standard deviations (s.d.) against Marxist–Leninist countries and a larger bias, 0.5 s.d., favoring Christian countries.[44] In contrast, another method by a critic of Freedom in the World produced a bias for Leftist countries during the 1980s of at least 0.8 s.d., a bias that is "consistent with the general finding that political scientists are more favorable to leftist politics than is the general population".[44]

Systematic evaluations

Craig 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 treatment of prisoners who were killed by "immersion in boiling liquid," and by strapping on a gas mask and blocking the filters, Murray reported.[41] 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".[42]

Alleged partiality toward Uzbekistan

[40] to be "admirable".El Salvador's 1982 election and it found [40] as "dubious",Southern Rhodesian 1980 elections as "fair", but described the Rhodesian general election of 1979 For example, Freedom House described the [40]

"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."[39]

On December 7, 2004, U.S. House Representative 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 that

U.S. domestic criticism

Daniel Treisman, a UCLA political scientist, has criticised Freedom House's assessment of Russia. Treisman has pointed out that Freedom House ranks Russia's political rights on the same level as the United Arab Emirates, which, according to Freedom House, is a federation of absolute monarchies with no hint of democracy anywhere in the system. Freedom House also ranks Russia's civil liberties on the same scale as those of Yemen. In Yemen, according to the constitution, Sharia law is the only source of legislation, and allows assaults and killings of women for alleged immoral behaviour. Criticising the president is illegal in Yemen. Treisman contrasts Freedom House's ranking with the Polity IV scale used by academics and in which Russia has a much better score. In the Polity IV scale, Saudi Arabia is a consolidated autocracy (-10), while the United States is a consolidated democracy (+10); Russia has a score of +4, while United Arab Emirates has a score of -8.[38]

Russia, identified by Freedom House as "Not Free", called Freedom House biased and accused the group of serving U.S. interests. [37]


[36] 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

In May 2001, the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations of the International Criminal Court."[36]

Cuban, Sudanese and Chinese criticism

[35] asked the [34] On June 8, 2006, the vice-chairman of Freedom House's board of trustees

Freedom House is a member of the Iran.[33] In a research study, with Ackerman acting as chief adviser, Freedom House sets out its conclusions: "Far more often than is generally understood, the change agent is broad-based, non-violent civic resistance - which employs tactics such as boycotts, mass protests, blockades, strikes and civil disobedience to de-legitimate authoritarian rulers and erode their sources of support, including the loyalty of their armed defenders."[33]

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.

In 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.

Other activities

Other special reports include "Freedom on the Net",[4] "Freedom in Sub-Saharan Africa 2009", and "Freedom of Association under Threat".

"Today’s American: How Free?"[32] is 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 House regularly produces special reports. The annual "Worst of the Worst: The World's Most Repressive Societies"[31] report consists 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.

Freedom House also produces annual reports on governance in the nations of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe (Nations in Transit),[29] and countries on the borderline of democracy (Countries at the Crossroads).[30] In addition, the multi-year reports have included a survey of women's freedoms in the Middle East.

Other reports

An independent review of press freedom studies, commissioned by the Knight Foundation in 2006, found that FOP is the best in its class of Press Freedom Indicators.[28]

The study is based on universal criteria and recognizes cultural differences, diverse national interests, and varying levels of economic development. The starting point is the smallest, most universal unit of concern: the individual. The survey uses a multilayered process of analysis and evaluation by a team of regional experts and scholars, including an internal research team and external consultants. The diverse nature of the methodology questions seeks to encompass the varied ways in which pressure can be placed upon the flow of information and the ability of print, broadcast, and internet-based media to operate freely and without fear of repercussions. The report provides a picture of the entire “enabling environment” in which the media in each country operate. Degree of news and information diversity available to the public is also addressed.[27]

The annual survey, which provides analytical reports and numerical ratings for 196 countries and territories in 2011, continues a process conducted since 1980. The findings are widely used by governments, international organizations, academics, and the news media in many countries. Countries are given a total score from 0 (best) to 100 (worst) on the basis of a set of 23 methodology questions divided into three subcategories: legal environment, political environment, and the economic environment. Assigning numerical points allows for comparative analysis among the countries surveyed and facilitates an examination of trends over time. Countries scoring 0 to 30 are regarded as having “Free” media; 31 to 60, “Partly Free” media; and 61 to 100, “Not Free” media. The ratings and reports included in each annual report cover events that took place during the previous year, for example Freedom of the Press 2011 covers events that took place between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2010.[27]

The Freedom of the Press index is an annual survey of media independence that assesses the degree of print, broadcast, and internet freedom throughout the world.[26] It provides numerical rankings and rates each country's media as "Free," "Partly Free," or "Not Free." Individual country narratives examine the legal environment for the media, political pressures that influence reporting, and economic factors that affect access to information.

2013 Freedom of the Press Classifications[25]

Freedom of the Press

Freedom House's methods (around 1990) and other democracy-researchers were mentioned as examples of an expert-based evaluation by [24]

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.

The survey's methodology is reviewed periodically by an advisory committee of political scientists with expertise in methodological issues.[23]

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.[23]

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.[23]

In its 2003 report, for example, [22] Freedom House states that the rights and liberties of the survey are derived in large measure from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.[22]

These reports are often[21] used by political scientists when doing research. The ranking is highly correlated with several other ratings of democracy also frequently used by researchers.[20]

Until 2003, states where the average for political and civil liberties differed from 1.0 to 2.5 were considered "free". States with values from 3.0 to 5.5 were considered "partly free" and those with values between 5.5 and 7.0 as "not free". Since 2003 the scope of the "partly free" ranges from 3.0 to 5.0, "not free" from 5.5 to 7.0.

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[20] the current state of civil and political rights on a scale from 1 (most free) to 7 (least free).

Percentage of countries in each category over time, from Freedom House's 1973 through 2013 reports.
  Free   Partly Free   Not Free
Countries highlighted in blue are designated "electoral democracies" in Freedom House's 2014 survey Freedom in the World
Country ratings from Freedom House's Freedom in the World 2013 survey, concerning the state of world freedom in 2012.[19]
  Free (90)   Partly Free (58)   Not Free (47)

Freedom in the World


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. It does not identify itself with either of the American Republican or the Democratic parties. The board is currently chaired by William H. Taft IV. Taft assumed chairmanship of the board in January 2009, succeeding Peter Ackerman. Other current board members include Kenneth Adelman, Farooq Kathwari, Azar Nafisi, Mark Palmer, P. J. O'Rourke, and Lawrence Lessig,[1] while past board-members have included Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Samuel Huntington, Mara Liasson, Otto Reich, Donald Rumsfeld, Whitney North Seymour, Paul Wolfowitz, Steve Forbes, and Bayard Rustin.

Freedom House is a nonprofit organization. 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 headquarters in Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.


In 2001 Freedom House had income of around $11m, increasing to over $26m in 2006.[18] Much of the increase was due to an increase between 2004 and 2005 in US government federal funding, from $12m to $20m.[18] Federal funding fell to around $10m in 2007, but still represented around 80% of Freedom House's budget.[18] As of 2010, grants awarded from the US government accounted for most of Freedom House's funding;[18] the grants were not earmarked by the government but allocated through a competitive process.

More recently, 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."[6] Freedom House was critical of Saudi Arabia and Chile under Augusto Pinochet, classifying them as "Not Free". It was also strongly critical of the apartheid in South Africa and military dictatorships in Latin America.[17]

In 1967, Freedom House absorbed Books USA, which had been created several years earlier by Edward R. Murrow,[14] as a joint venture between the Peace Corps and the United States Information Service.[15] [16]

has vigorously opposed dictatorships in Central America and Chile, apartheid in South Africa, the suppression of the Prague Spring, the Soviet war in Afghanistan, genocide in Bosnia and Rwanda, and the brutal violation of human rights in Cuba, Burma, the People's Republic of China, and Iraq. It has championed the rights of democratic activists, religious believers, trade unionists, journalists, and proponents of free markets.

The organization describes itself currently as a clear voice for democracy and freedom around the world. Freedom House states that it:[13]

Freedom House was highly critical of McCarthyism.[10][6] During the 1950s and 1960s, it supported the U.S. civil rights movement and its leadership included several prominent civil rights activists—though it was critical of civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr. for their anti-war activism.[11] It supported Andrei Sakharov, other Soviet dissidents, and the Solidarity movement in Poland.[12] Freedom House assisted the post-Communist societies in the establishment of independent media, non-governmental think tanks, and the core institutions of electoral politics.[6]

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."[6] Freedom House supported the Marshall Plan and the establishment of NATO.[6] Freedom House also supported the Johnson Administration's Vietnam War policies.[9]

According to its website, Freedom House "emerged 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."[6] During World War II Freedom House sponsored the weekly radio program, Our Secret Weapon (1942–1943), a CBS radio series created to counter Axis shortwave radio propaganda broadcasts. Writer Rex Stout, chairman of the Writers' War Board and representative of Freedom House, would rebut the most entertaining lies of the week.[7] The idea for the counterpropaganda series was that of Sue Taylor White of Freedom House; her husband, Paul White, the first director of CBS News, produced and directed the program.[8]


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