Human Rights & Democracy

An array of international treaties and institutions exists to protect human rights. Yet, for millions around the world, they remain a faint promise. Without democracy, human rights can never be fully realized. But democracies, too, are not immune to dismantling human rights achievements. Today, illiberal politicians as well as increasingly self-assertive authoritarian powers attack both democracy and human rights. They experiment with new forms of repression – online and offline. Authoritarian influence can be traced across borders. At GPPi, we seek to understand and help counter threats to democracy, political participation, physical integrity, and academic freedom. 


Risky Business: Rethinking Research Cooperation and Exchange with Non-Democracies

The assumption that research cooperation and dialogue with non-democracies will induce democratic change has not stood the test of time. Organizations in liberal democracies need to rethink how they engage and cooperate with their counterparts in authoritarian contexts.


Academic Freedom in Brazil

Freedom of expression, freedom of thought and university autonomy are all rights protected by the constitution in Brazil. But a closer look at the state of academic freedom in the country reveals that these constitutional rights are under threat.

By Conrado Hübner Mendes, Adriane Sanctis de Brito, Bruna Angotti, Fernando Romani Sales, Luciana Silva Reis, Natalia Pires de Vasconcelos

Free Universities: Putting the Academic Freedom Index Into Action

A new index compares the state of academic freedom worldwide. Here is how policymakers, universities and others can put it to use.

Working paper

Do UN Communications Make a Difference for Human Rights Defenders?

UN attention can protect defenders at risk, but that is less likely for high profile activists or when transnational businesses are involved.

The Academic Freedom Index is Out

Our new dataset on academic freedom worldwide is now available online. The dataset includes more than 110,000 observation points, eight indicators and an aggregate index on academic freedom. It is the result of a collaboration between experts at GPPi, FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg, the Scholars at Risk Network, and the V‑Dem Institute. The index data is available on the V‑Dem website.

Read our report on the Academic Freedom Index and learn more about the project.


Thorsten Benner


Julian Lehmann

Project Manager

Janika Spannagel

Research Fellow

Katrin Kinzelbach

Non-Resident Fellow

Ilyas Saliba

Research Fellow

Funding & Contact

For longer-term research projects, we benefited from funding by the Volkswagen Foundation and the German Academic Scholarship Foundation. Other funders and clients include the Stiftung Mercator, Fritz Thyssen Foundation, the Open Society Foundations, and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

For inquiries, please contact Janika Spannagel.