Ethiopia’s Human Freedom Index: A slide down the rankings amidst global challenges

By our staff reporter

The 2023 Human Freedom Index had just been released, shedding light on the state of freedom in various countries around the world.

Among the 45 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Ethiopia stood at the 39th position in terms of human freedom. While this ranking may not have been the highest, it was a reflection of the country’s progress and challenges in ensuring personal and economic freedom for its citizens.

Zooming out to a global perspective, Ethiopia found itself at the 148th position among 165 countries worldwide. The nation had slipped one place since the previous index in 2021, indicating a slight decline in its overall score. However, Ethiopia was not alone in facing such challenges. Somalia and Sudan, two neighboring countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, were ranked at the bottom of the list, highlighting the significant work needed to enhance freedom in those regions. On a global scale, Yemen and Syria occupied the last positions, indicating the dire state of affairs in those countries.

But what exactly did the Human Freedom Index measure? It aimed to present a comprehensive evaluation of human freedom by assessing the absence of coercive constraints on individuals. The index utilized 86 distinct indicators to gauge both personal and economic freedom. These indicators covered a wide range of areas, including the rule of law, security, movement, religion, association, assembly, civil society, expression, information, relationships, size of government, legal system, property rights, sound money, freedom to trade internationally, and regulation.

The Human Freedom Index was a vital tool in understanding the state of freedom globally. It encompassed 165 jurisdictions, representing an impressive 98.8 percent of the world’s population. The index had been tracking and ranking countries for over two decades, starting from the year 2000 when it first became feasible to create a robust and meaningful index.

Sadly, the executive summary of the 2023 index revealed a distressing trend. Human freedom had experienced a severe deterioration in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Almost all areas of freedom had suffered, witnessing significant declines. The rule of law, freedom of movement, expression, association, and assembly, as well as the freedom to trade, were particularly affected.

This decline was not an isolated event. Even in the previous year, 2020, human freedom had experienced a substantial fall. The challenges brought about by the pandemic had further compounded the situation, leaving freedom at a persistently low level.

As the world grappled with the consequences of the pandemic, Ethiopia and other countries faced the immense task of restoring and safeguarding freedom for their citizens. It was a reminder of the ongoing struggle to ensure that individuals could enjoy their rights and liberties to the fullest extent, irrespective of the challenges that lay ahead.

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