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Jun 112014

Transworld Paper No. 30

by Kristina Puzarina, Jana Pötzschke and Hans Rattinger

This paper provides a comparative analysis of mass and elite orientations towards human rights and democracy promotion in the United States, the European Union, and Turkey. In particular, it focuses on importance, general attitudes, relevant actors as well as policies and instruments within this political area. Survey data from 2000 to 2012 show that people on both sides of the Atlantic share similar views on what constitutes a good democracy. They equally highlight the value of its electoral institutions, social welfare and prospering economy, while uniformly denouncing the importance of civic military control and religious interpretation of the legislature. Contrarily, the role of the main stakeholder seems to be a somewhat conflicting arena for the transatlantic community. In the US, more people trust national governments rather than the UN to decide on human rights. At the same time Europeans see both the EU and the UN as playing an important role in assisting other nations. When it comes to democracy promotion, both Europeans and Americans highly approve election monitoring, initiatives for civil society development and, to certain degree, economic and political sanctions. Whereas military involvement stands out as the least supported initiative for these publics.


Jun 182013

Transworld Op-Ed

by Nathalie Tocci
Deputy Director, IAI
June 14, 2013

Taken at face value, democracy and human rights ought to represent the lynchpin of transatlantic resilience. Europe and North America have always been bound by a complex set of economic and security interests. But while the convergence of material interests has physiologically ebbed and flowed in response to developments within and beyond the proverbial West, ideational convergence has always been the solid turf upon which the transatlantic home has stood. The transatlantic partnership has always hinged on the notion of an identity-based community premised on a mutual commitment to liberal democracy, individual human rights and free market capitalism. This powerful constellation of norms and identities, alongside mutual material interests, a deeply intertwined history and societal interconnections has underpinned the longevity of the transatlantic community.

In view of this, democracy and human rights promotion ought to have been the prime area of foreign policy convergence across the Atlantic. While security, economic, environmental, energy or migration policies are driven by changing configurations of interests which often, but not always, converge across the Atlantic, in the democracy and human rights domain strong ideational convergence would suggest that Europe and the United States would be naturally inclined to work together beyond their respective borders.

There was a time in which this was the case. Most starkly in the 1990s, the European Union and the United States rubbed shoulders when promoting Western norms of liberal democracy and supply-side economics through EU and NATO enlargements in the Balkans and Eastern Europe and the imposition of the Washington consensus on developing and transition economies. Democracy and human rights was the area in which a shared normative vision and respective comparative advantages in the means to pursue it fed the discourse on Western global hegemony edging towards an imminent ‘end of history’.

With the turn of the century, that normative convergence seemed to crack. The US and Europe remained committed to democracy and human rights. Both converged on a revision of the divisive norm of humanitarian intervention into the more nuanced global debate on the responsibility to protect. But their interpretations of democracy and human rights, and, above all, their understanding as to whether and how they should be promoted appeared to be dramatically and irreconcilably different. Europeans deplored what they viewed as American readiness to “bomb countries into democracies”, while Americans scoffed at European lameness in tackling head-on human rights abusers beyond its pacified borders. As the mantra went in those years: Americans are from Mars and Europeans from Venus.

With the second George W. Bush administration, the two consecutive Barack Obama administrations and with decisively more mercurial European governments in Paris and London, the lost transatlantic convergence on the democracy and human rights domain was re-found. The Arab uprisings and the anti-authoritarian drive that has marked them offered the perfect storm to put transatlantic ideational convergence to the test.

Two years into those uprisings and we are still waiting. America and Europe have seen eye-to-eye on the Middle East. Through greater European activism – notably French and British – and America’s “leadership from behind” the transatlantic partners have worked together militarily in Libya and Mali and are seeking – unsuccessfully to date – a political solution to the civil war in Syria. But when it comes to the hard core of democracy and human rights promotion policies, the United States and Europe have pursued autistically separate paths.

In truth, one has to admit that European and American democracy promotion policies, strictly speaking, have never enjoyed close coordination. The bureaucratic logics of these policies are such that specific programmes and projects are normally pursued on a bilateral basis with the recipient country in question. Whereas the EU and the US have always been the most committed norm-exporters, neither have their goals and instruments always dovetailed – with the EU adopting a more top-down and institutional approach whilst the US a more bottom-up and political approach – nor have the two coordinated their policies in a host of areas, from the Balkans and the Caucasus to North Africa and the Middle East.

Yet when faced with such a potent alignment of the stars – shared transatlantic interests, goals and policy means coupled with a formidable transformative wave to confront together in the Middle East – one can legitimately ask “if not now, then never?”

Indeed, the transatlantic community, still firmly embedded in a shared commitment to liberal democracy and human rights, seems destined to travel along separate and often non-communicating planes when it comes to the promotion of these values in the wider world. Uncoordinated American and European policies are unlikely to work at loggerheads with one another, less still to generate transatlantic divergence and disagreement. But in view of the momentous change underway in the Middle East and elsewhere, they are likely to punch well below what their transatlantic weight would warrant.


Jan 072013

Transworld Working Papers No. 7

by Thomas Risse and Tanja A. Börzel

The emergence of a new model of criminal accountability and of the Responsibility to Protect norm has signaled the change within human rights policies. In addition to new actors within human rights – private actors such as rebel groups and firms – the scholarship on human rights has evolved to include quantitative studies besides previously dominant approach of comparative case studies. This paper reviews the state of the art on human rights and traces the evolution of its scholarship. Afterwards, recognizing the growing influence of the areas of limited statehood on commitment and compliance within human rights, this paper discusses the new agenda for human rights.


Jan 072013

Transworld Working Paper 06

by Nelli Babayan and Daniela Huber

Moving from insignificance to the top of global politics, democracy and human rights promotion has been expected to build on the waves of democratization and ensure rapid development and better protection of human rights. However, while some cases of human rights and democracy promotion have been marked with success – EU enlargement policy to Central and Eastern European countries – others have not lived up to the promise of successful democratization projected after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Today, the policy fields of human rights and democracy promotion are as congested as ever, even with newly democratized states joining in. They also becoming as contested as ever, making one wonder if this diversification is mirroring emerging multipolarity in world politics. This paper analyzes the gradual rise of human rights and democracy promotion to top issues within international affairs, paying attention to the roles of different actors, currently debated issues, and touching upon possible leadership within the highly interconnected fields of human rights and democracy promotion.