National Endowment for Democracy

FY2018 Funding Recommendation:  
$170 million


Funding History


       House/Senate FY2017 Request  

       InterAction's FY2018 Recommendation

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 Key Facts

  • The National Endowment for Democracy is a bipartisan institution, with a diverse board of directors representing Republicans and Democrats. Its supporters, including members of Congress, have for decades preserved NED and its role as an effective institution for the development of democracy around the globe.

  • Given its success in supporting freedom and local civil society, repressive governments often target NED and its partners, treating them as threats and engaging in retaliatory efforts to control citizens and stymie local advocates.

"Let us ask ourselves, 'What kind of people do we think we are?' And let us answer, 'Free people, worthy of freedom and determined not only to remain so but to help others gain their freedom as well.'"

Ronald Reagan, Westminster Speech, 1982

As a nonprofit grant-making organization, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) supports the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions – political parties, trade unions, and business organizations – and civil society. Its nongovernmental stature enables it to support democracy and rights work in some of the world’s most difficult environments, both through its four core institutes and with direct funding to local organizations.

For over 30 years, the NED has promoted democracy efforts by supporting freedom-seekers in their pursuit of good governance, strong democracy, and the dignity afforded by human rights. NED enables civil society by supporting U.S., international, and foreign nonprofit organizations and their far-reaching networks of local citizens who advocate to governments for greater accountability and more personal freedom.

The U.S. government’s political and financial support of the NED is critical to maintain positive change across the globe. NED-supported programming efforts cover many areas. For example:

  • To improve access to justice for vulnerable rural populations in Turkmenistan, the NED pushed for the establishment of legal aid centers that provide hotline and in-person pro bono legal consultations to women and men of all ages on civil and family law issues, and also help them to acquire social benefits, secure child support and custody, file domestic violence charges, understand workers’ rights, and start their own businesses.
  • To raise awareness about violence against women in politics around the world, #NotTheCost has presented “opportunities for action” that can be taken in all facets and sectors of political participation to stop this phenomenon. For example, the Votes Without Violence program has focused on addressing violence against women in elections, improving data collection on this violence while also providing mitigating strategies for nonpartisan citizen observer groups.

The support of democracy is a never-ending task given that political winds change and good and bad actors continually emerge. While global democracy has slid backwards in recent years, it remains at a historic peak and positive change, such as democratic headway made in Burma, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, and Tunisia, among others, is a reminder that democracy efforts work and deserve long-term U.S. investment.

Success Story

Strengthening Workers’ Rights in Georgia

Georgia’s 2003 Rose Revolution ushered out the country’s post-Soviet leadership with popular expectations for transparent and effective governance but became mired in scandal and public protests. Though internal sectarian divisions and violent conflict with Russia have since exacerbated the country’s efforts to create a more stable political and economic footing, free and fair elections are steadily becoming the norm. A successful and peaceful government transition in 2012 and successful parliamentary elections in 2016 offer hope that the country can begin to address the public’s desire for economic growth, transparency, and political stability.

With the help of the Solidarity Center, Georgia’s trade union movement is working to create a stronger and modern labor relations system to improve both workers’ access to justice and bring Georgian law and practice in conformity with international and European labor relations norms. Over the last 10 years, the Solidarity Center, supported by the National Endowment for Democracy, has partnered with the Georgian Trade Union Confederation (GTUC) to help represent workers and unions in the courts, develop a cooperative system of labor relations to improve dialogue between workers, employers, and the government, and create the foundations for effective labor law enforcement, including workplace inspections and stronger health and safety provisions.

Notable Solidarity Center-supported efforts include:

  • A successful GTUC advocacy campaign for amendments to the 2006 Labor Code to bring Georgian labor law up-to-date and into conformity with the core conventions of the International Labor Organization (ILO), and training for judges on labor law and ILO core labor standards.

  • Support for a highly qualified GTUC legal team to increase workers’ access to justice in the court of law. In 2014–2016, the team provided counsel to over 5,000 workers and presented more than 500 lawsuits to courts concerning labor disputes on dismissals, working hours, holiday pay, severance pay, work-related injuries.

  • Assistance to the GTUC legal department to prepare and present constitutional complaints to the Constitutional courts of Georgia. GTUC lawyers are sought out for their comprehensive knowledge of labor laws and frequently participate in debates concerning labor relations in TV programs and civil society forums.

  • GTUC-led efforts to increase the capacity of national-level bodies that engage in labor relations dialogue, including an effort to rebuild the legitimacy of the Tripartite Social Partnership Commission – a national labor dialogue body composed of workers, employers, and government.

  • The Solidarity Center also supports civil society organizations advocating labor and social rights by conducting research, applying strategic litigation, and building bridges with the labor movement.   

Photo: Solidarity Center

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