Tunisia's President Moncef Marzouki urged the United Nations to declare dictatorship a disease, much like polio and small pox, and launch a campaign to eliminate autocratic rule.
He proposed the establishment of a global constitutional court, along the lines of the International Criminal Court, to pass judgment on the integrity of governments, elections, and legal institutions.
The proposal probably stands little chance of being created, given international concerns about interference in states' sovereign affairs, but it underscored the deep emotional reservoir of anger towards autocratic regimes by a new generation of leaders brought the power by popular unrest known as the Arab Spring.
"My country proposes that we consider that dictatorship is a disease, a disease that is threatening peace and security and well as the prosperity of people," Marzouki said. "We invite the U.N. to declare that dictatorship is a social and political scourge which needs to be eliminated."
Marzouki said that Tunisia's long-ruling dictator, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, benefited from the manipulation of supposedly democratic institutions, including the judiciary and electoral machinery, to ensure he would rule forever.
An international constitutional court, he said, could denounce constitutional irregularities, fraudulent elections, and other illegal schemes. "This would be a deterrent weapon against any despot, against any tyrannical regime, and will contribute to the very disappearance of these regimes, because these courts will strengthen the role of civic resistance. Otherwise, the only choice is to live under oppression or alternatively turn to violence. And we all know how expensive that could be."
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Longtime Washington Post correspondent Colum Lynch reports on all things United Nations for Turtle Bay.