Democracy in retreat: Experts discuss the global state of freedom

JHU political scientist Yascha Mounk joins Freedom House president Michael Abramowitz and journalists Karen DeYoung and Elise Labott for a discussion of democracy's downward trend

As much of Washington prepared for President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address, inside the Nitze building at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Michael Abramowitz, president of Freedom House, shared details of his organization’s newly released report, Freedom in the World 2019.

Published annually for almost 50 years, the Freedom in the World report tracks and assesses political rights and civil liberties around the world, including in the U.S. The 2019 report—compiled by more than 100 analysts and drawn from data and news reports from 209 countries during the calendar year 2018—describes a global erosion of democratic values and practices for the 13th consecutive year.

“That means every year for the past 13 years, there have been more countries experiencing declines in civil rights and civil liberties than those that have improved,” Abramowitz said. “I think the picture we’re going to paint today is one of deep concern.”

Abramowitz spoke Tuesday as part of the Freedom in the World 2019: Democracy in Retreat panel discussion featuring political scientist Yascha Mounk, senior fellow at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins, and Karen DeYoung, associate editor and senior national security correspondent for The Washington Post. Elise Labott, a journalist for Foreign Affairs, moderated the talk, which was co-sponsored by the SNF Agora Institute, SAIS, and Freedom House.

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