Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 07/2014

Closing Space: Democracy and Human Rights Support Under Fire

Thomas Carothers, Saskia Brechenmacher

February 2014

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


After seeing its reach increase for decades, international support for democracy and human rights faces a serious challenge: more and more governments are erecting legal and logistical barriers to democracy and rights programs, publicly vilifying international aid groups and their local partners, and harassing such groups or expelling them altogether. Despite the significant implications of the pushback, the roots and full scope of the phenomenon remain poorly understood and responses to it are often weak.