Freedom at Issue:

Insights on the global struggle for democracy

Kimberly Brody

After several tumultuous weeks, the ICC’s future in Africa is quite uncertain. What is next for the ICC in Africa?

Kateryna Krylova


The European Union’s Eastern Partnership Summit—scheduled for November 28–29 in Vilnius, Lithuania—is rapidly approaching. But in recent days, the prospects that Ukraine would sign a much-anticipated Association Agreement and trade pact with the EU have collapsed. The parliament, dominated by the president’s allies, repeatedly refused to pass required legislation that would have allowed jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko to seek medical treatment in Germany, in effect releasing her from politically motivated incarceration. Finally, earlier today, the government  suspended preparations for signing the EU agreement.

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Lisa Davis

Large-scale corruption and economic crimes often go hand in hand with mass human rights abuses in authoritarian countries. The two are mutually reinforcing: Dictators gain and maintain power—and perpetuate impunity—through a combination of violent repression and the distribution of patronage and graft opportunities. The plunder of public wealth serves as both an incentive for retaining power by force, and a means of rewarding those who carry out or cover up regime crimes. Despite this connection, the mechanisms of transitional justice have not adequately dealt with the legacy of authoritarian corruption nor remedied its far-reaching socioeconomic effects.

Tyler Roylance

China’s ruling Communist Party boasts an increasingly intrepid army and navy, an expanding web of international energy pipelines and other trade links, and a suite of generously funded media companies with bureaus around the world. But unlike past empires, Beijing’s true strength does not derive from its ability to project force and soft-power influence overseas. Instead, particularly when dealing with developed nations and their citizens, the party has imposed its will by squatting at the gates of the massive Chinese economy and issuing demands as the price of admission.

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Kellen McClure

It has been less than four months since heavily manipulated elections gave Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party complete control over the executive and a supermajority in Parliament, and already the international community is signaling that it is ready to move on. Admittedly, other countries in Africa pose more urgent threats in terms of war, terrorism, and mass atrocities, but Mugabe’s return to unfettered power in Zimbabwe could erase the democratic and economic gains the country has achieved over the past five years.

Kate Byom


Here are a few numbers that illustrate the state of Zimbabwe roughly 100 days after President Robert Mugabe’s landslide reelection.

Jenai Cox

More than 100 days after he stole his latest reelection, it is safe to say that Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe has gotten away with the crime. Other leaders in the region may be studying his methods, which makes it all the more important for democracy advocates to do the same.

Ashley Greco-Stoner

Ecuador’s government is preparing to move forward with an oil-drilling project that will disrupt the life of indigenous tribes and damage the country’s—and the world’s—ecological patrimony. Although a significant number of Ecuadorians oppose the decision, the administration’s repressive policies toward the media and civil society are preventing an open debate.

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Mary McGuire


Here are seven key countries (listed in alphabetical order) that have demonstrated little or no respect for human rights and should be opposed in their bids for seats on the Un Human Rights Council.

Karin Deutsch Karlekar

Five years ago, the Maldives elected a new leader, Mohamed Nasheed, in the first free and fair balloting in the country’s history. But Nasheed was forced from office in 2012, and with his political and institutional rivals now threatening to scuttle fresh elections this weekend, the democratic gains of recent years hang in the balance.

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