Academic Scholarship

Understanding Repression in Belarus (book chapter)

In Robert Rotberg (Ed), "The Worst of the Worst: Rogue and Repressive States in the World Order", 193- 222, Washington D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, August 2007

Photo Needed Margarita M. Balmaceda, Ph.D.
School of Diplomacy and International Relations

Repressive regimes tyrannize their own citizens and threaten global stability and order. These repositories of evil systematically oppress their own people, deny human rights and civil liberties, limit personal freedom and suppress economic opportunity. Worst of the Worst identifies and characterizes the world's most odious states, singling out those few that are aggressive beyond their own borders and can hence be characterized as rogue states. How dangerous and oppressive are the world's repressive states? Robert Rotberg and his colleagues present an innovative, transparent approach to determining which of these nations are most problematic and thus demand immediate policy attention. Previous determinations have been based on inexact, impressionistic criteria. Tyranny was like obscenity; hard to define but recognizable when it occurred. This volume establishes a framework for measuring and assessing repression, helping policymakers to establish priorities. Worst of the Worst defines the actions that constitute repression and proposes a method of measuring human rights violations. It provides an index of nation-state repressiveness, ranking nations on a ten-point scale and classifying them as "gross," "high," or "aggressive" repressors. Aggressive repressors are those nations that may truly be labeled "rogue states." This diagnostic tool--based on arms trafficking, support for terrorism, WMD possession, and cross-border attacks--will guide the international community in crafting effective policies to deal with injustice in the developing world. The states profiled include former Soviet republics Belarus, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan; African nations Equatorial Guinea, Togo, Tunisia and Zimbabwe; Syria in the Middle East; and Asia's Burma and North Korea. Among them, the rogues are North Korea, Belarus, and Syria. Explicitly labeling and ranking highly repressive states is a major step toward improving the well-being of the poorest and most abused peoples on Earth. Robert Rotberg and his colleagues have provided invaluable guidance in that difficult but necessary task.


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