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internal-banner_authoritarian-ios.jpegAuthoritarian International Organizations

The rise of authoritarian regional organizations—institutions with largely authoritarian members—pose potential challenges to U.S. foreign policy: in Asia, where China and Russia play significant roles; in the Middle East; and in Africa. Playing roles as aid donors, election monitors, and even as partners with the west in counterterrorism and peacekeeping, the influence of authoritarian regional organizations is understudied. Yet these institutions can augment the capabilities of authoritarian powers, blunt prospects for democratic rule, and influence economic policy in ways that challenge an open world economy. This IGCC initiative catalogues these organizations, tracks their rising influence, and studies their activities and impact. This project is made possible thanks to generous support from the Smith Richardson Foundation.


Recent Publications

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Elections Are Under Threat—How Can We Protect Them? (Podcast)
Sept. 28, 2021 | Lindsay Morgan interviews Lauren Prather
Elections are a core component of democracy, but the integrity of elections is under threat—globally and in the United States. In the latest episode of Talking Policy, Lauren Prather, an assistant professor of political science at UC San Diego’s School of Global Policy and Strategy, discusses U.S. efforts to promote democracy globally through election monitoring; considers whether international election monitors could strengthen U.S. elections; and answers questions on the threat of meddling. Lauren is part of an IGCC project looking at the rise of authoritarian international organizations.

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Turning the Tools of the Liberal International Order Upside Down (Podcast)
Sept. 7, 2021 | Lindsay Morgan interviews Christina Cottiero
Multilateral international organizations are a key part of the rules-based global liberal order, facilitating global and regional cooperation, and shared notions of human rights, democracy, and capitalism. But the number and influence of regional international organizations (RIOs) with powerful authoritarian members is on the rise, helping to stall democratization and promote autocratic regimes. In this episode of Talking Policy, IGCC fellow Christina Cottiero charts the growth of authoritarian RIOs since the end of World War II and analyzes their pathways for influence, including through election monitoring, peacekeeping, and development assistance.

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The Rise of Authoritarian Regional International Organizations
Aug. 12, 2021 | IGCC Working Paper
The number and influence of regional international organizations (RIOs) with powerful authoritarian members is on the rise, helping stall democratization and preserve autocratic regimes. This working paper by Stephan Haggard and Christina Cottiero charts the growth of authoritarian RIOs since the end of World War II and analyzes their pathways for influence, including through election monitoring, peacekeeping, and development assistance.

Swearing in ceremony of President Idriss Deby Itno of Chad. Photo courtesy of Paul Kagame.

Not Free or Credible: Why Regional Election Observers Failed Chad and Benin
April 22, 2021 | Christina Cottiero
Welcoming election observation missions has become routine for governments organizing polls around the world. But political scientists and policy experts are increasingly raising concerns about whether and when election observers are actually free to write fair reports. A significant number of regional organizations’ post-election reports do not reflect the reality described by citizens and media coverage. Instead, they gloss over repressive tactics that incumbents use months or years ahead of elections to predetermine their outcomes.

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