What shall we do with the bad dictator?

Sep 2013 | 671

Authors: Tim Willems, Shaun Larcom, Mare Sarr


Recently, the international community has increased its commitment to prosecute malicious dictators - for example by establishing the International Criminal Court.  This has raised the international community's loss associated with being time-inconsistent (i.e.: granting amnesties ex post), the idea being that a reduced prospect of amnesty deters dictators from committing atrocities ex ante.  Simultaneously, however, this elects dictators of a worse type.  Moreover, when the costs of being time-inconsistent are lower than those associated with keeping the dictator in place, the international community will still grant amnesty - thereby making the effective punishment function non-monotonic.  Consequently, increased commitment to ex post punishment may actually induce dictators to worsen their behaviour, purely to "unlock" the amnesty option by forcing the international community into time-inconsistency.

JEL Codes: F55, K14, O12

Keywords: dictatorship, time-inconsistency, International Criminal Court, amnesty, institutions


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