26
Comment(s): FY 1999 benchmarks are only for countries where USAID had
programs in 1996.
As stated in the introduction, development hypotheses for measuring
progress in the democracy sector are not well advanced.
As a result, USAID
has chosen to state its goals in terms of improvements in the levels of
freedom.
We continue, however, to work on increasing our understanding of
the factors affecting program results and our ability to assess performance
in the democracy sector.
Although democracy is a multi faceted construct, with no simple,
universally accepted measure, USAID uses Freedom House Survey scores as
proxies in calculating the state of freedom in countries around the world.
The Freedom House Survey's definition of freedom is broad and the
characteristics it estimates under each of the two sub indices, political
rights and civil liberties, correlate theoretically with the changes that
USAID is attempting to support in its democracy and governance programs.
In seeking a universally available measure of democracy, USAID exhaustively
reviewed the literature and found that the Freedom House index was the only
uniform and comparative measure across countries and time available thus
far.
The Survey places countries and territories into a tripartite
division by averaging the scores received for political rights and civil
liberties. Those whose category numbers average 1 2.5 are considered
"free," 3 5.5 "partly free," and 5.5 7 "not free."
The "free," "partly
free," and "not free" labels are highly simplified terms.
Each cover a
broad third of the available raw points.
While it is clear that an index of political rights and civil liberties are
not direct measures of 'democracy', research on democracy consistently uses
the composite Freedom House index, and/or its component parts to assess the
state of democratic development in countries.
This is not unreasonable,
since democratic development is clearly closely correlated with political
rights and civil liberties as defined and measured by Freedom House.
It should be noted that the designation "free" does not mean that a country
has perfect freedom or lacks serious problems; similarly, in no way does an
improvement in a country's rating mean that democratic campaigns should
cease.
Out of 26 countries in which USAID implements programs, there has been an
increase in "not free" status countries from 6 (23%) in 1993 to 7 (27%) in
1996.
Countries classified as "not free" in 1996 include Azerbaijan, Belarus,
Kazakstan, Serbia and Montenegro ("Yugoslavia"), Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and
Uzbekistan.
On the other hand, the number of countries classified as "free"
increased from 5 (19%) in 1993 to 7 (27%) in 1996 with Romania and Latvia
enjoying improvements in status.
We expect one or two additional ENI
countries to be classified as "free" by the end of FY 1999.
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