Global Freedom Index 2021

How much individual freedom do people have in each country? Let’s find out.


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Map of the world, ranking countries by level of freedom.

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The Freedom House recently released their annual report ‘Freedom in the World’. 210 countries and territories were ranked on a scale from 1 to 100 based on people’s global freedom.

Overall, there are 81 countries that are free, 59 partly free and 54 that are not free. Over the past 15 years, the index shows a worrying trend. The number of free countries is slowly declining and the number of not free countries is slowly increasing.

Most of the world’s least free countries and territories are located in Asia and Africa. The world’s freest countries are located mostly in Europe, North America and Oceania.

The highest scoring countries are Finland, Norway and Sweden, with a maximum score of 100. The least free country/territory, is Tibet. With a score of only 1.

Each country and territory is rated based on 25 indicators. These indicators cover political rights and civil liberties of individuals. the methodology is largely based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The 25 indicators can be grouped into the following subjects:

  • Electoral process
  • Political pluralism and participation
  • Functioning of government
  • Freedom of expression and believe
  • Associational and organizational rights
  • Rule of law
  • Personal autonomy and individual rights

According to the Freedom House, China has had a leading role in the decline of global freedom in 2020:

The malign influence of the regime in China, the world’s most populous dictatorship, was especially profound in 2020. Beijing ramped up its global disinformation and censorship campaign to counter the fallout from its cover-up of the initial coronavirus outbreak, which severely hampered a rapid global response in the pandemic’s early days. Its efforts also featured increased meddling in the domestic political discourse of foreign democracies, transnational extensions of rights abuses common in mainland China, and the demolition of Hong Kong’s liberties and legal autonomy. Meanwhile, the Chinese regime has gained clout in multilateral institutions such as the UN Human Rights Council, which the United States abandoned in 2018, as Beijing pushed a vision of so-called non-interference that allows abuses of democratic principles and human rights standards to go unpunished while the formation of autocratic alliances is promoted.

Freedom in the World 2021, Freedom House

Although the overall trend is negative. 2 countries stand out positively in 2020: Malawi and Taiwan. Both countries have improved significantly in 2020 and have shown the resilience of their democracies.

Malawi was able to hold new elections, after the constitutional court ruled that fresh elections had to be held in 2020. After evidence of corruption and voter fraud in the 2019 elections. Opposition candidate Lazarus Chakwera won the rerun vote by a comfortable margin, proving that independent institutions can hold abuse of power in check.

Taiwan has overcome several challenges in 2020. They’ve been able to repress the coronavirus with remarkable effectiveness. Besides that, they also had to deal with increasing aggression from the Chinese regime. Beijing tried to sway global opinion against Taiwan’s government and deny the success of its democracy. This was partially successfully by pressuring the World Health Organization to ignore Taiwan’s early warnings of human-to-human transmission and exclude Taiwan from the WHO’s World Health Assembly. In early 2020, Taiwanese voters defied politicized disinformation campaigns from China and overwhelmingly re-elected president Tsai Ing-wen.

The full list of countries and territories and their score, can be found at the Freedom House website.

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