Archive for the ‘Freedom’ Category
The Obama administration has been beefing up its ranks of officials focused on democratization and rule of law issues, democracy hands note. Sarah Mendelson, a human rights and post-conflict specialist most recently with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, has recently joined USAID as the deputy assistant administrator overseeing its democracy center. Tamara Wittes, formerly of the Brookings Institution, who has written extensively on democracy and the Middle East, joined the State Department’s Near East Affairs bureau to head the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) late last year. And former Georgetown and University of Virginia law school professor and Los Angeles Times columnist Rosa Brooks, who early on joined Michele Flournoy’s policy shop, had her role elevated and formalized as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Rule of Law and Humanitarian Affairs in May. (Obama nominated Mercy Corps’s Nancy Lindborg to be assistant administrator for USAID’s democracy, conflict and humanitarian assistance bureau this week.)
“We really do have a critical mass of democracy folks here now, across the interagency,” one official said.
On January 12, Freedom House released its findings from the latest edition of Freedom in the World, the annual survey of global political rights and civil liberties. According to the survey’s findings, 2009 marked the fourth consecutive year in which global freedom suffered a decline—the longest consecutive period of setbacks for freedom in the nearly 40-year history of the report. These declines were most pronounced in Sub-Saharan Africa, although they also occurred in most other regions of the world. Furthermore, the erosion in freedom took place during a year marked by intensified repression against human rights defenders and democracy activists by many of the world’s most powerful authoritarian regimes, including Russia and China.
Maybe that explains why Thomas Melia is joining the State Department to become deputy assistant secretary of state for democracy issues. Reverse the trend.