Since 1983, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has advanced democracy worldwide by supporting people in their pursuit of good governance, economic freedom, independent media, and the dignity afforded by human rights. The NED is dedicated to fostering a wide range of democratic institutions abroad, including political parties, trade unions, free markets, and business organizations.
What does it buy?
In addition to providing direct funding for local organizations, the NED works through four core institutes, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the International Republican Institute, the Solidarity Center, and the Center for International Private Enterprise.
The Endowment’s non-governmental character provides flexibility allowing it to work under the most difficult circumstances and respond quickly.
Why is it important?
Democratic governance and human rights are critical components of sustainable development and lasting peace. Countries with weak government institutions, rampant corruption, and weak rule of law are more at risk of civil war and extreme criminal violence than other developing countries.
The NED supports more than 1,600 grants every year in over 90 countries to non-governmental organizations working to advance democratic goals and strengthen democratic institutions.
Over the last 14 years, global freedom has consistently declined, with 64 countries experiencing democratic deterioration in 2019, including decline in 25 of the 41 established democracies.
The NED works to increase the political participation of women and end violence against women and girls. When women are decision-makers, their country’s economic and social well-being grows, and more inclusive governing processes take root. Yet, women around the world continue to struggle for the right to vote, run for office, and serve as leaders in public life.
For the last 14 years, there has been a consistent decline in global freedom with 64 countries experiencing democratic deterioration in 2019.
Why should Americans care?
The NED’s funds advance American ideals where they are needed most, offering solidarity and assistance to those working for freedom and human rights in isolation. The NED strengthens the bond between burgeoning democratic movements and the American people, elevating a shared commitment to representative government and freedom.
The NED focuses many of its resources on non-democratic regimes and democracies currently experiencing elements of backsliding.
COVID-19 has presented global actors opportunities to consolidate power, spread misinformation, and undermine democratic institutions. Since the pandemic began, democracy and human rights conditions have worsened in 80 countries. With the NED unable to deploy in-field due to the pandemic, these trends underscore a continued need to fund the Endowment’s work.
In spite of COVID-19, in 2020, the NED awarded 1,995 grants totaling $254 million—the highest number of grants in its history.
What more could be done?
Over half of the world’s population is under age 30. Additional investment in the NED would help youth around the world become more engaged in the political process, resulting in more vibrant, resilient, and inclusive democracies.
With the emergence of malignant global actors who aim to destabilize democracies and electoral processes, there is a crucial need to support all aspects of civil society. The NED seeks to promote freedom of information, the rule of law, political processes, civic education, freedom of association, more capable institutions, human rights, and developing market economies.
Funding levels may not accurately reflect those in the appropriations bills and/or reports due to rounding.