Pushback against authoritarian populism is working, human rights group says

President Trump's policies come under fire in the new annual report by Human Rights Watch.

Story highlights

  • Human Rights Watch: The rise of authoritarian populism seems "less inevitable than it did a year ago"
  • Annual report is critical of China, Russia, US

(CNN)Strong pushback against authoritarian populism in several countries, including France and Canada, has weakened its advance and is a cause for hope around the world, according to Human Rights Watch in its annual global report.

The continued rise of authoritarian populism seems "less inevitable than it did a year ago," the organization now says.
In releasing the report on Thursday, Executive Director Kenneth Roth urged people across the world to challenge populist leadership rather than surrender in the face of it. Human Rights Watch, a nonprofit human rights organization, sees authoritarian populists as demagogues who exploit voters' xenophobia to oppose immigration and erode human rights.
    "A year ago, it really seemed like the rise of authoritarian populists was going to be unstoppable," Roth said, alluding in part to the November 2016 election victory of President Donald Trump. Last year's report said Trump's win had contributed to putting "the postwar human rights system at risk."
    "A group of leaders had taken power, attracting support by scapegoating and demonizing minorities, by attacking human rights principles and by undermining democratic institutions," Roth said Thursday.
    But Roth now believes the outlook is less gloomy.
    "The big news over the last year has been the resistance," he said. "And where that resistance has been strong...it has been possible to limit the gains of the authoritarian populists."
    Roth warned, however, that the threat posed by authoritarian populism is still present.
    "When through indifference or acquiescence or simply other priorities, there has not been this resistance, the populists have flourished," he said.

    Worrisome trends?

    The report heavily criticizes Trump's "p