Authoritarian regimes around the world are banding together to bypass international institutions and human rights norms that conflict with their abusive practices. Unlike the alliances of the Cold War era, these partnerships have few ideological underpinnings other than a shared rejection of democracy and the rule of law. But such cooperation has offered aid and solidarity to dictators under pressure, and created a marketplace through which repressive regimes can meet their technology, security, and energy needs without the headaches of transparency and accountability. And if the seven-year decline in global freedom recorded by Freedom House is any indication, authoritarianism is, sadly, a growth industry.
This Thursday, former senator Chuck Hagel will appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee to seek confirmation as secretary of defense. While he will not have primary responsibility for U.S. foreign relations in that post, he will have substantial influence over U.S. policy toward regimes that are hostile to both American interests and democracy. Senator Hagel’s record on these issues raises critical questions that should be addressed during the hearing, which are included in the following blog post.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) rights advocates from Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand received support from Freedom House, as they participated in civil society initiatives organized in light of ASEAN & East Asia Summits, held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia from November 18 to November 20. They joined a number of LGBT rights advocates from the region in working to ensure that the rights of LGBT persons are part of the ongoing regional human rights dialogue, and are fully guaranteed in the now-adopted ASEAN Human Rights Declaration. Freedom House also co-hosted a symposium in Washington D.C. on November 28, which provided in-depth insights on ASEAN's Human Rights Declaration.
Freedom House urges President Obama to highlight ongoing human rights issues and to meet with civil society during his upcoming trip to Southeast Asia, which includes visits to Cambodia, Burma, and Thailand. These stops are scheduled during the President’s travel to the region November 17-20, where he will attend the East Asia Summit and meet with leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Phnom Penh. It will be the first time a sitting United States President will visit Cambodia and Burma.