Hey, let's make dictatorship illegal

The clearest way forward would be through a convention targeting dictatorship as an international crime. Rather than treating dictatorship as an ancillary issue in the prosecution of other crimes, this would focus attention on the types of atrocities and oppression in which dictators engage. These crimes include the curtailment of certain civil liberties — such as the freedoms of association, speech and press — state interference with institutions such as the judiciary and electoral bodies, and oppressive regulation of personal autonomy. Moreover, nations could incorporate this criminalization into domestic law, providing an additional forum in which to publicize violations and prosecute violators.

This step would not represent a dramatic or elitist Western intervention in the internal politics of foreign nations. The rights already guaranteed by international law, under such conventions as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, serve as the framework of liberal democracy. A prohibition on dictatorship would simply provide a way to vindicate these rights in international or domestic forums.

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