International law failed miserably at keeping the abuses of dictators in check in the 20th century, and two op-ed writers in the Washington Post propose a novel solution for the 21st: Make dictatorships themselves illegal. The Arab Spring makes clear that democracy is the way forward all over the world, write Mark Palmer and Patrick Glen. It may take different forms in the East and West, but the core principles—"the protection of political and civil rights by government"—are the same.
"This step would not represent a dramatic or elitist Western intervention in the internal politics of foreign nations," they argue. "The rights already guaranteed by international law, under such conventions as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, serve as the framework of liberal democracy. A prohibition on dictatorship would simply provide a way to vindicate these rights in international or domestic forums." (Read more dictatorship stories.)