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Research Departments
External Democracy Promotion by International Organizations (closed)

The research project External Democracy Promotion by International Organizations, deals with the external promotion of democracy in two steps. In the first step, we investigate the validity of the hypothesis that external democracy promoters are mostly inflexible and insensitive of the specific context in which they try to promote democracy, following a rule of “one size fits all”. In the second step, the project selects best practices of external democracy promotion in order to contribute to learning processes of international organizations in this area.

For this purpose, first of all, the overall concepts of democracy as well as the general strategies and instruments of democracy promotion of the European Union (EU), three regional organizations (African Union, Organization of American States, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) and the United Nations (UN) are compared with each other. The specific instruments and measures applied in Georgia/South Caucasus, Haiti/Carribean and Mali/West Africa are evaluated with regard to their appropriateness, i.e. their target-related tailored design, and their implementation quality. Starting point is the assumption that democratization processes can be positively influenced by external democracy promotion if the implementation quality of the applied measures as well as their appropriateness with regard to the context conditions in the respective country are provided for. The underlying research question asks whether the democracy promotion policies of international organizations address the specific circumstances and problems within the democratization and consolidation processes of the respective country context and are, therefore, appropriate. Or, if their concepts, programs, and instruments are indiscriminately applied to different contexts. The operationalization of appropriateness results from the development of action-specific indicators, like the identification of problems, the selection of partners, project and program evaluations for each of the organizations as well as the implementation of certain instruments by the same organization in different contexts. Precondition for the application of these indicators is the analysis of the democratization process, i.e. the state of democracy, important political and societal events as well as important actors.

An inter-organizational, synchronic as well as an intra-organizational, diachronic comparative perspective will give answers to five questions: if the international organizations actually apply the measures decided upon; if they provide ressources to the necessary extent; if they achieve their objectives formulated at the outset whether they tailor their approach to the specific circumstances on the ground, and if the approaches are being reconsidered in the case of changing context conditions.

The second research step consists of an inter-organizational, synchronic comparison with a view to identifying which organization applies the most appropriate democracy promotion policy. The intermediary results, acquired in the first research step, are synthesized in order to answer the question if the concepts of democracy as well as the democracy promotion strategies, instruments and measures of the regional organizations (AU, OAS, OSZE) are more appropriate with regard to the context conditions in the target countries than the approaches of the EU (towards third states) and the UN. While the assumption that regional organization display a larger degree of context sensitivity is already being tested in the first research step, an interregional comparison of the EU and the UN, which are engaged in all three regions, will show if they actually apply the same policies irrespective of the different target societies. The diachrone and synchrone inter-organisational comparisons will result in a summary of best practices in the sense of best practices for shaping appropriate democracy promotion activities, and establishing learning processes to improve such activities as they are applied.


This project is being conducted by Pamela Jawad, GTZ, and Julia Leininger, DIE, in the framework of their dissertation theses.




Current Publications

Project Director:
Christopher Daase