Authoritarian regimes around the world are exporting their worst practices and working together to repress their own citizens and undermine human rights standards internationally, writes Daniel Calingaert.
The “China model”: China, with its combination of rapid economic growth and political repression, presents an appealing policy model for other authoritarian regimes. It offers a supposed alternative to democracy as a route to prosperity, and its vague ideological emphasis on national sovereignty and the guiding role of a permanent ruling party is easily transferrable to other regimes that seek to resist international pressure and crush political opposition……
Close ties between dictatorships: Authoritarian regimes have built extensive economic, military, and political ties with like-minded governments, both in their neighborhoods and further afield. Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, for example, provided $82 billion in grants and subsidies to more than 40 countries from 2005 to 2011….
Replicating worst practices: Authoritarian regimes tend to adopt the same kinds of restrictive laws and policies as their peers. Their laws on nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), for instance, often share features like ambiguous or onerous registration requirements, wide discretion for authorities to block NGO activities, and restrictions on foreign funding.
Technology exports: China has set the standard for sophisticated methods of control over the internet and actively exports technology for monitoring digital communications. …
Security service collaboration: While authoritarian regimes naturally try to avoid notice of cooperation between their security services, indications of such cooperation have surfaced. Cuban intelligence officials are reportedly working within Venezuelan government and military structures. …..
Military intervention: When heavy-handed police methods are insufficient to quell unrest, authoritarian regimes at times intervene militarily to save a fellow dictator. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates sent troops into Bahrain in March 2011 to help put down peaceful protests.
Challenging international norms: In an effort to blunt international criticism, authoritarian regimes seek to water down accepted international standards for human rights. ……
Undermining international institutions: Russia and like-minded Eurasian dictatorships have made concerted efforts to hamper the ability of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to issue hard-hitting observation reports on flawed elections.
Counter-organizations: At the same time, authoritarian regimes have built up their own regional organizations to provide a counterweight to existing international institutions. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a prime example….
“The reach and vigor of authoritarian internationalism point to the need for democratic countries to bolster their own cooperation,” Calingaert concludes.
“The world’s democracies cannot afford to let the authoritarian challenge go unanswered.”
This extract is taken from the Freedom House blog. RTWT.