Press Release

8 December, 2021
  • Mongolia upgraded from ‘obstructed’ to ‘narrowed’ in civic rights rankings
  • Positive developments include new law to protect human rights defenders
  • Concerns remain about press freedoms and peaceful assembly

Mongolia has been upgraded from ‘obstructed’ to ‘narrowed’ in a new report by the CIVICUS Monitor, a global research collaboration that rates and tracks fundamental freedoms in 197 countries and territories. Mongolia is the only country to improve its rating in 2021 - 13 other states have been downgraded.

According to the report, People Power Under Attack 2021, greater press freedoms and the introduction of a law protecting human rights defenders (HRDs) led to Mongolia’s upgrade.

‘Narrowed’ is the second-best rating a country can receive by the CIVICUS Monitor. In reality, it means that people in Mongolia are allowed to exercise civic freedoms, including the freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression, but occasionally violations of these rights take place.

The CIVICUS Monitor is encouraged by the adoption of a new law, The Law on the Legal Status of Human Rights Defenders, in April 2021. Mongolia is the first country in Asia to provide a legal framework to safeguard people who advocate for fundamental freedoms, and the move has been praised by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, as a “major achievement."

Human rights defenders in Mongolia have faced discrimination, harassment and intimidation, but the new law means defenders in the country are now legally protected and their rights respected, promoted and fulfilled.

Mongolia is also in the process of establishing a committee to protect HRDs, while widening the scope of the Human Rights Commission to support activists. The new law would not have been possible without years of collective effort by the Mongolian government, civil society, and the UN presence in Mongolia.

Mongolia also saw an improvement in its World Press Freedom Index ranking, jumping up five spots to 68th place worldwide. In recent years Mongolian news outlets have transformed from government mouthpieces into public services, somewhat improving the environment for media.

However, the CIVICUS Monitor remains concerned about violations of free speech in the country. A recent survey by the Mongolian Media Council found the majority of journalists have had their freedoms curtailed as a result of COVID-19 regulations, while Reporters Without Borders notes that more than half of the defamation cases in Mongolia are brought against journalists and media organisations.

Violations of the right to peaceful assembly are also of concern in Mongolia and limitations to the right to protest have been passed since COVID-19. There have been reports of authorities refusing to issue permits for demonstrations, blocking protesters’ Facebook accounts, and threatening social media groups where people were posting their opinions.

Over twenty organisations collaborate on the CIVICUS Monitor, providing evidence and research that help us target countries where civic freedoms are at risk. The Monitor has posted more than 550 civic space updates in the last year, which are analysed in People Power Under Attack 2021.

Civic freedoms in 197 countries and territories are categorised as either closed, repressed, obstructed, narrowed or open, based on a methodology that combines several sources of data on the freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression.

Mongolia is now rated ‘narrowed’ on the CIVICUS Monitor. 41 other countries have this rating (see all). Visit Mongolia’s homepage on the CIVICUS Monitor for more information and check back regularly for the latest updates.


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