A report by the non-governmental organization Freedom House says the world is developing what it calls a "freedom stagnation."
The Washington-based group released its annual survey of global political rights and civil liberties on Wednesday. It rates countries as "free," "partly free," or "not free."
The survey shows little change in world freedom in 2006. It gives Asia the largest number of countries with lowered freedom scores. The report says about one-half of the people in the world living in "not free" conditions are in China. It also indicates setbacks for East Timor, the Philippines, and Thailand.
Freedom House reports a modest decline of freedom in Africa, and it says authoritarian rule has solidified in a majority of countries in the former Soviet Union.
The report says the trend over the past decade is disturbing with the emergence of regimes aggressively hostile to democracy. It cites Russia, Venezuela, and Iran as examples of this negative trend.
Among the countries that showed a decline in 2006 are Burma, Zimbabwe, Somalia, and Eritrea. But Guyana moved from "partly free" to "free" while Haiti and Nepal advanced from "not free" to "partly free."
Freedom House also says the Bush administration's counter-terrorism efforts causes concerns about the protection of civil liberties in the United States.
The independent organization it is predominately funded by private contributions and grants from the European Union and the U.S. government.