German language Treaty of Versailles Politburo

A diktat is a statute, harsh penalty or settlement imposed upon a defeated party by the victor, or a dogmatic decree. The term has acquired a pejorative sense, to describe a set of rules dictated by a foreign power or an unpopular local power. The phrases "To impose its values" or "give orders" can be synonymous with giving a diktat. An example of firman or Royal Diktat was the one issued by Mughal Emperor Farrukhsiyar in 1717, exempting the British from the payment of customs duties in Bengal.


The term is from the German language, derived from the Latin past participle dictātum.[1] It arose from Dictatus Papae, which attempts to resolve the struggle of the priesthood and the Empire in the Holy Roman Empire.

Historical use

The term was used for the first time in 1919[citation needed] in a French newspaper about the Treaty of Versailles imposed on the defeated Germany. It was particularly used in Germany to refer to that treaty. It was referred to as such because its terms were presented to Germany without allowing it to negotiate its terms. Other occurrences in Germany were the Treaty of Saint-Germain in 1919 and the Treaties of Tilsit in 1807, and in Czech and Slovak for the 1938 Munich Agreement and 1940 Salzburg Conference.

However, the term came into popular journalism use during the years of the Cold War where there was talk of the politburo diktats from Moscow to describe and characterize the commands by the bureaucrats of the former USSR towards its satellite countries.[2]

It is also used in India with a very negative meaning. Police in Jharkhand have used it to describe rules enforced by local Maoists.[3] Another use was in referring to a directive from the Drug Controller General of India’s concerning launches of new drugs.[4]

Diktat is sometimes used in Europe to refer to directives of governments against large groups as in the case of the dispute between the European Union and Microsoft regarding license information on how Windows communicates over a network.[5]

In the Italian press, there is a wide use of diktat to refer to events of the political sphere. The term is used to refer to either union demands against politicians, to the demands of politicians towards its allies to achieve cohesion, or to refer to imposition of rules or acts of various kinds.[6]

Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the United States of endangering the international order by trying to "remake the whole world" for its own, Putin excoriated the United States for escalating world conflicts by "unilateral diktat" and imposing sanctions that he said were aimed at pushing Russia toward "economic weakness", while he denied that Russia aspires to rebuild an empire or reclaim its Cold War-era stature as a superpower.[7]


  1. ^ "WordReference Definition & Etymology". Retrieved 1 February 2013.
  2. ^ Marples, David R. (1999). Belarus : a denationalized nation. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic. p. 21. ISBN 9057023431.
  3. ^ "Maoists' diktat to villagers: Use traditional instruments, modern equipment is banned". Retrieved 1 February 2013.
  4. ^ "Uncertainty clouds drug regulator's diktat on launches". Retrieved 1 February 2013.
  5. ^ "Microsoft finally bows down to EU diktat". Archived from the original on 15 February 2013. Retrieved 1 February 2013.
  6. ^ "The dictates of the CGIL Prodi: Raise taxes". Retrieved 1 February 2013.
  7. ^ "Russia's Putin blames U.S. for destabilizing world order". Retrieved 24 October 2014.