Freedom is the opportunity to act spontaneously in a variety of fields outside the control of the government and/or other centers of potential domination. ZIA Network measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. Political rights enable people to participate freely in the political process through the right to vote, compete for public office and elect representatives who have a decisive impact on public policies and are accountable to the electorate. Civil liberties allow for the freedoms of expression and belief, associational and organizational rights, rule of law, and personal autonomy without interference from the state.

ZIA Network’s definition of freedom is derived in large measure from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. The rights as pronounced in the Universal Declaration include freedom of religion, expression, and assembly; freedom from torture; and the right to take part in the government of his or her country. These standards apply to all countries and territories, irrespective of geographical location, ethnic or religious composition, or level of economic development.