National Endowment for Democracy

National Endowment for Democracy

The National Endowment for Democracy, or NED, is a U.S. non-profit organization that was founded in 1983 to promote US-friendly democracy by providing cash grants funded primarily through an annual allocation from the U.S. Congress.[1] Although administered as a private organization, its funding comes almost entirely from a governmental appropriation by Congress and it was created by an act of Congress. In addition to its grants program, NED also supports and houses the Journal of Democracy, the World Movement for Democracy, the International Forum for Democratic Studies, the Reagan-Fascell Fellowship Program, the Network of Democracy Research Institutes, and the Center for International Media Assistance.


Founding of the NED

In a 1982 speech at the Palace of Westminster, President Ronald Reagan proposed an initiative "to foster the infrastructure of democracy--the system of a free press, unions, political parties, universities." The U.S. government, through USAID (United States Agency for International Development), contracted The American Political Foundation to study democracy promotion, which became known as "The Democracy Program." The Program recommended the creation of a bipartisan, private, non-profit corporation to be known as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). NED, though non-governmental, would be funded primarily through annual appropriations from the U.S. government and subject to congressional oversight.[2]

NED was established in 1983 by an act of Congress. The House Foreign Affairs Committee proposed legislation to provide initial funding of $31.3 million for NED as part of the State Department Authorization Act (H.R. 2915). Included in the legislation was $13.8 million for the Free Trade Union Institute, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, $2.5 million for an affiliate of the National U.S. Chamber Foundation, and $5 million each for two party institutes. The conference report on H.R. 2915 was adopted by the House on November 17, 1983 and the Senate the following day. On November 18, 1983, articles of incorporation were filed in the District of Columbia to establish the National Endowment for Democracy as a nonprofit organization.[2]

NED is structured to act as a grant-making foundation, distributing funds to private non-governmental organizations for the purpose of promoting democracy abroad. Approximately half of NED's funding is allocated annually to four main U.S. organizations: the American Center for International Labor Solidarity (ACILS), the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), and the International Republican Institute (IRI). The other half of NED's funding is awarded annually to hundreds of non-governmental organizations based abroad which apply for support.[3] NED's long time president is Carl Gershman, former Senior Counselor to the United States Representative to the United Nations and former Executive Director of Social Democrats USA.[4]

Funding of foreign political candidates

NED says it does not directly fund any political party, as this is forbidden by law. According to NED, it funds election monitoring and also civic education about voting, such as student-led "get-out-the-vote" campaigns.[5]

NED has also supported, provided training, and consulted with groups which approve of democracy, but criticize the United States, in countries such as Indonesia and Ukraine. The NED says that it focuses funding on democracy-minded organizations rather than opposition groups; however it does not support groups that openly advocate communism, fundamentalism, or dictatorships. Michael McFaul, in an article for the Washington Post, argues that the NED is not an instrument of U.S. foreign policy. As an example of this, he states that the NED was willing to fund pro-democratic organizations even when the U.S. government was supportive of non-democratic governments in the region.[6]

Pat Buchanan accused the NED of fomenting revolution and interfering in the affairs of other countries, especially dictatorships and undemocratic regimes.[7]

Activities and allegations

The NED has supported programs in countries outside the United States.

Central America

The International Republican Institute (IRI) received about $1.2 million from NED in 2009 in order to support think tanks and advocacy groups to "support initiatives to implement political positions during the campaigns in 2009".[8][9]


Democracy and Human Rights Advocacy

Of the 28 Asian NGOs the NED funds, 18 are related to China. Most of these grants go to organizations promoting democracy, human rights, or in the case of Hong Kong and Tibet, local interests against and independence from China. Democracy organizations funded by the NED that target China as a whole are Human Rights in China, the China Strategic Institute, and the Laogai Research Foundation. The NED also promotes the Republic of China as a "model of democratization".[10]


According to the NED's online Democracy Projects Database it has given funding the following groups for programs relating to Iran (1990–2006):

Iranians who have served as fellows[11] at NED include:

In 2002, Mehangiz Kar, an Iranian women activist received the annual Democracy award from first lady, Laura Bush.[12]


In 2004, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez publicized documents which purported to show that the NED funded civil associations in the country, like Súmate, including a tripling of funding from about $250,000 to nearly $900,000 between 2000 and 2001.[13] As of July, 2010, the NED is accused of funding several journalists in Venezuela who work for opposition media outlets.[14] Then President George W. Bush denied allegations of U.S. involvement in the 2002 coup.

Western Europe

NED also funded political groups in the democracies of Western Europe in the 1980s. The French newspaper Libération published a report which claimed that the U.S. funded the National Inter-University Union. This was criticized by the Cato Institute, which stated that:

"French democracy in the 1980s did not appear to be so fragile that it required financial assistance from American taxpayers to sustain itself. The government of François Mitterrand was duly elected within a democratic system nearly as old as America's. The AFL-CIO, however, determined that France's socialist government was permitting a dangerous rise of communist influence. According to the late Irving Brown, Paris-based director of international relations for the AFL-CIO at the time of the incident: "France . . . is threatened by the Communist apparatus. . . . It is a clear and present danger if the present is thought of as 10 years from now." That mentality has resulted in AFL-CIO support for highly controversial causes. One of the French groups that received funding, the National Inter-University Union, was widely viewed as a cauldron of rightist extremism and xenophobia and rumored also to have ties to terrorists. Surely, the U.S. government did not intend to fund authoritarian groups that work to undermine the government of a stable democratic nation.[15]

The United States government disassociated itself from these actions. This has taken place in France, Portugal and Spain amongst many other places.[citation needed] In France, during the 1983-4 period, NED supported a "trade union-like organization for professors and students" to counter "left-wing organizations of professors". To this end it funded a series of seminars and the publication of posters, books and pamphlets such as Subversion and the Theology of Revolution and Neutralism or Liberty.[citation needed]

More recently, the NED has provided funding to the French NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF). RSF has been accused of promoting freedom of press in Cuba more than some other countries (such as Algeria).[16]

Eastern Europe

During the 1980s and 1990s, NED invested millions of dollars in Eastern Europe.

Ukraine, Georgia, Serbia, Slovakia

The NED played a significant role in the 2004 presidential election in Ukraine. In an article in the Washington Post, NED director Nadia Diuk acknowledged that there was a controversy surrounding the involvement of the NED: "Some have sought to portray the events in Ukraine as orchestrated in the West, a model executed with the support of Western pro-democracy foundations.' Comparing this to similar recent interventions in Slovakia, Serbia and Montenegro and Georgia, she writes, "Some commentators believe that the similarity of their actions proves they are part of a U.S.-sponsored plot, an effort to extend American influence throughout the world." Diuk states that critics are overlooking a genuinely "home-grown" aspect to the "election revolts" in these Eastern European regimes. She also stated that, "...there was a massive effort by nongovernmental organizations to monitor the vote, whether through parallel vote tabulations, exit polls or reports from domestic observers. These strategies were supported by the reports of Western election observers," and that "all these breakthrough elections have been accomplished with the vigorous participation of civic groups that support free and fair elections by monitoring the media, carrying out voter education, publicizing the platforms of candidates in the absence of a free press, training election observers, conducting polls and so on."[17]


Source of funding

The NED receives an annual appropriation from the U.S. budget (it is included in the chapter of the Department of State budget destined for the U.S. Agency for International Development-USAID) and is subject to congressional oversight even as a non-governmental organization. In the financial year to the end of September 2009 NED had an income of $135.5 million, nearly all of which came from U.S Government agencies.[20]

The NED has received funding from foundations, such as the Smith Richardson Foundation, the John M. Olin Foundation, and others. The Bradley Foundation supported the Journal of Democracy with $1.5 million during 1990–2008.[21]


The Endowment's Board has included Lee Hamilton of the 9/11 Commission (currently the president and director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars), former Congressman Richard Gephardt, Richard Holbrooke, former U.S. Senator and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Frank Carlucci of the Carlyle Group, retired General Wesley Clark, Michael Novak of the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, Dr. Francis Fukuyama of Johns Hopkins SAIS, and U.S. Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana (former chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council).

See also


  1. ^ "NED: History". Retrieved 9 August 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "History". National Endowment for Democracy. Archived from the original on April 26, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-03. 
  3. ^ "Grants". National Endowment for Democracy. Retrieved 2008-11-03. 
  4. ^ "Meet Our President". National Endowment for Democracy. 2008-07-09. Archived from the original on April 26, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-02. 
  5. ^ "Grants Program - 2004". National Endowment for Democracy. Archived from the original on May 14, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-03. 
  6. ^ McFaul, Michael. "'Meddling' In Ukraine: Democracy is not an American plot". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Retrieved 2008-11-03. 
  7. ^[dead link]
  8. ^ Washington behind the Honduras coup: Here is the evidence on "Global"
  9. ^ Dominguez, Francisco (2009). "US Support is Propping Up Honduran Military Coup". London Progressive Journal (79). 
  10. ^ Raman, Bahukutumbi (2000-04-13). "THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR DEMOCRACY OF US". South Asia Analysis Group. Retrieved 2010-11-04. 
  11. ^ "Fellowship Programs - Past Fellows". National Endowment for Democracy. Archived from the original on April 15, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-03. 
  12. ^ "Publications". National Endowment for Democracy. Archived from the original on May 9, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-03. 
  13. ^ "Hugo Chavez Accuses U.S. of Spending Over $1 Million To Help Oust Him". Democracy Now!. 2004-04-03. Retrieved 2008-11-03. 
  14. ^ "Buying Venezuela’s Press With U.S. Tax Dollars". NACLA. 2010-07-15. Retrieved 2010-09-14. 
  15. ^ Loose Cannon: The National Endowment for Democracy, CATO Institute
  16. ^ Barahona, Diana (May 17, 2005) Reporters Without Borders Unmasked, CounterPunch.
  17. ^ Diuk, Nadia (2004-12-03). "In Ukraine, Homegrown Freedom". Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-11-03. 
  18. ^ "National Endowment for Democracy: Russia". National Endowment for Democracy. Retrieved 9 August 2010. 
  19. ^ Radio Gives Hope to North Koreans, CNN, 2008-02-27.
  20. ^ "2008 Independent Auditors’ Report". National Endowment for Democracy. 2008. Retrieved 2010-04-02. 
  21. ^ "Recipient Grants: National Endowment for Democracy". Media Transparency. Retrieved 2008-11-03. 

Further reading

External links

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