The conceptual politics of democracy in international law

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    This chapter explores the conceptual politics of democracy in the area of international law and the institutions in which it is developed, particularly the United Nations. How has the meaning of democracy been fought over and shaped in these con texts? The chapter first sketches the relationship of international law and concepts of democracy. It then examines the way that the United Nations has developed the idea of democracy. The chapter observes that, after a long period of detachment, inter national lawyers and international organisations have created a constrained, institution-based definition of democracy. This has produced an unstable foundation for democracy in cases of international intervention after conflict. International legal approaches to democracy provide a nice case study of some of the conceptual debates identified by the editors in their introduction to this volume. Various understandings of democracy jostle for space in the international arena, from those focused on elections, to those that give priority to the protection of human rights, to versions that focus on institution building. These understandings are theoretically rather muddled and do not fit easily within the standard typologies of democracy. International lawyers tend generally to opt for vagueness rather than precision in this area and avoid discussions of demo­cracy’s meaning and value. The most recent inter national accounts of democracy reject the idea of any type of democracy template and insist that local conditions must influence its design. How ever, the practice of the United Nations in pro­moting democracy after conflict suggests that local concerns and voices in fact occupy an uncertain and insecure place in this enterprise and that more attention is paid to process than to the final democratic product.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Conceptual Politics of Democracy Promotion
    Editors Christopher Hobson and Milja Kurki
    Place of PublicationAbingdon
    PublisherRoutledge, Taylor & Francis Group
    ISBN (Print)9780415596879
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


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