[First published December 31, 2004] By international law, as defined in the statute of the International Criminal Court, genocide is illegal. And the statute names murder and extermination (actually types of democide, as is genocide) as crimes against humanity. Also, various international human rights conventions have been signed and ratified by well over a majority of nations, such as the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly; and the two international covenants passed by the General Assembly in 1966, one on civil and political rights and the other on economic, social, and cultural rights. These conventions unambiguously assert the right of a people to life, liberty, freedom from torture, equal protection of the law, secret ballot, periodic elections, and freely chosen representatives.
In brief, it is illegal for governments to murder their people, torture them, and deny them democratic freedom.
Well, then, who does this? Who systematical violates these international laws? Assuredly, the regimes of Syria, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, China, Vietnam, Egypt, Libya, Cuba, Angola, Chad, and so on. But, this is tiresome. Why keep listing these countries that violate international law, whose rulers are criminals because of the genocide or democide their agents commit, and their denial of their people’s human rights—freedom. Better, lets just simplify this and introduce what is sadly missing in our news and commentary, which is moral clarity.
So, I suggest that finally we call all dictatorships what they are. Since in themselves they are a crime against humanity and thus illegal under international law, we should recognize that all dictators are international criminals. Period.
After all, in most cases nondemocratic governments are nothing more than gangs of thugs. They have seized or hold power with their guns and use their naked power to pillage, rape, and kill at their whim. The are like a gang of thugs that have descended on a group of hikers, stealing their possessions, raping some, and killing others.
Unlike these thugs who need no justification for their debauchery, out international thugs often use nice words that seduce the intellectually unwary and naive, such as justifying their actions and rule by their alleged pursuit of development, glory, some Utopia, racial purification, religious doctrine, or simply by saying that they are a “government.” But beneath this cover they remain what they are — gangs of international outlaws.
If we keep firmly in mind that many governments are made up of nothing but supremely powerful gangs of thugs, then it clarifies much of the why and how of democide and war. It makes it easier to see them all as the criminals they are, to take international action to bring them to justice, or at least to put a halt to their repression and violence.
Of course, characterizing all dictatorships as criminal will upset the diplomats and international relations specialists of the democracies who see stability of relations, diplomatic interaction, balancing of interests, and personal relationships with dictators as paramount for their national interests and the peace. I submit. They are wrong, deadly wrong. Peace and national interests are best preserved by democratizing these dictatorships and unchaining their people – by freeing them from fear.