Global Monitor of Covid-19’s Impact on Democracy and Human Rights

By launching a Global Monitor on Covid-19’s Impact on Democracy and Human Rights, International IDEA helps policymakers consider risks and inspires policy influencers to place threats to democracy on the public agenda and to hold policymakers accountable.

International IDEA’s Global Monitor of Covid-19’s Impact on Democracy and Human Rights project was launched in July 2020 with support from the European Union and the European Parliament. The online Monitor is a ‘one-stop-shop’ tool for assessing the democracy and human rights implications of measures adopted by governments to curb the Covid-19 pandemic. This digital platform is updated every two weeks and includes the 162 countries covered by the GSoD Indices, aggregating up-to-date information to offer individual country profiles, with links and data on events and trends across regions. The Global Monitor contributes to the debate on the pandemic’s impact on democracy globally and makes it possible to hold policymakers accountable.


‘I am delighted that the EU has partnered with International IDEA to develop the monitoring tool going live today. This tool provides reliable data and analysis on developments in 162 countries in the world.

The Global Monitor strongly reflects across-the-board cooperation. Its data will be in use by both the Commission and European Parliament.’’

Jutta Urpilainen, EU Commissioner for International Partnerships

July 2020


The data collated on the Global Monitor illustrate numerous cases of democratic violations justified as necessary to curb the pandemic. The most worrisome violations are restrictions on the freedom of expression and media integrity. 

The Covid-19 Global Monitor has generated huge interest among policymakers, and its preliminary findings have been presented in various (virtual) fora around the world. In September 2020, Therese Pearce Laanela, International IDEA’s Head of Electoral Processes, participated in a hearing held by the US House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy and the Environment on how to protect democracy in Europe and Eurasia. Her testimony illustrated how Covid-19 has challenged democracy, and particularly elections, and cited data and examples from the Global Monitor and the GSoD Indices. 

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The European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights invited International IDEA to provide testimony at its virtual hearing on human rights during the Covid-19 pandemic. Annika Silva-Leander and Elisenda Ballesté-Buxo presented some key findings from the Global Monitor at the hearing, which raised great interest among the parliamentarians. 

The Global Monitor has generated considerable interest within the international community. International IDEA has been invited to numerous panel discussions and webinars to present its findings, including by the European Union, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and the US Agency for International Development.

The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) requested Global Monitor data on developments and violations of the Freedom of Association and Assembly, Freedom of Movement and Media Integrity. This information will be featured in an  upcoming UN Women report. Similarly, the World Health Organization used the Monitor’s world map in its annual report, Global Preparedness Monitoring Board: A World in Disorder

The Praia Group on Governance Statistics mentioned the Global Monitor in its latest report, Governance Statistics in the Covid-19 Era: A Praia City Group Guidance Note. The number of visits to the GSoD Indices website increased tenfold from June to July 2020 after the Monitor’s launch, compared to a doubling of visits during the same period in 2019. 

GSoD indice website visits during June and July 2018-2020

A December 2020 Politico article reviewing the best and worst moments of 2020 for various EU commissioners named Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen’s best moment as the launch of the Global Monitor:

In July, Urpilainen launched the “Global Monitor of Covid-19’s impact on Democracy and Human Rights,” an interactive online tool that shows how governments worldwide are dealing with citizens’ rights during the pandemic—naming and shaming countries using the virus to clamp down on democracy. Urpilainen received applause for not only looking beyond the EU’s border, but also including the EU’s own countries in the analysis.

In November 2020, International IDEA’s Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, Leena Rikkilä Tamang, participated in the Australia Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs inquiry on the implications of Covid-19 for nationhood, national identity and democracy. She referenced the GSoD Indices and Global Monitor in her contribution. The Report by the Committee included a number of references to International IDEA submissions and to the witness. 

International IDEA’s Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, Leena Rikkilä Tamang, delivering her submission in the Australian Senate.
International IDEA’s Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, Leena Rikkilä Tamang, delivering her submission in the Australian Senate.