The Achilles' Heel of Autocracies: The Role of Media in Transition to Democracy
24 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2009 Last revised: 14 Sep 2014
Date Written: July 31, 2009
This article argues that economic sanctions are not effective against autocracies for several reasons. Authoritarian regimes generally are not afraid that their people will become poor, but they become seriously concerned if the population gains knowledge and ability to self-organize.
Enabling people to publicize their discontent and understand that the regime's opponents constitute a majority can not only hinder the autocrats' ability to falsify reality but will also stimulate political change.
This approach is more consistent with both international law and morality than economic sanctions, which merely hurt already impoverished societies. Enabling repressed societies to self-organize and obtain information is the way to help citizens regain political sovereignty.
It is argued that - particularly in the information age - nations and international organizations, including the United Nations, should refrain from resorting to old-fashioned and ineffective economic sanctions that impoverish innocent populations and help autocrats stay in power.
Instead, these countries and organizations should turn to affirmative empowerment of the civil society, and electronic media in particular, helping the oppressed regain their sovereignty.
Keywords: economic sanctions, international law, freedom of speech, sovereignty, foreign policy, democratization, Burma, Belarus, European Union, EU law, law and economics
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