Democratic Accountability and the Use of Force in International Law

By Charlotte Ku; Harold K. Jacobson | Go to book overview

Preface

Harold Jacobson died unexpectedly as weneared completion of this book, but Jake and I had finished final drafts of the opening and closing chapters and we had received all the other chapters and worked through them together. So the work remains as it began, a joint effort, codirected and coedited by the two of us.

This project had its origins in an on-going conversation that Jake and I began in late 1995 about the role of international institutions after the end of the Cold War. We both observed that the world had been unprepared for the post-Cold War world, and that this lack of preparation had handicapped the important institutions and powers in handling the problems that emerged after 1991. Since there had been no concept of or opportunity for post-war planning, as there had been during the First and Second World Wars, there was no coherent vision of what the post-Cold War world, including its international institutions, should look like.

We considered what questions demanded an answer, and concluded that an important but not well-understood issue was how democracies maintained accountability to their citizens when they acted under the auspices of international institutions. As Americans, we thought of the rallying cry of the American colonists against Westminster, “No taxation without representation,” as capturing the right of citizens of democratic countries to understand and to shape their country's international obligations. The question seemed simple, but we soon discovered the complexity of undertaking research in this area because of the academic tradition of exploring international and national political and societal issues separately. Nevertheless, we knew that we had to attempt the analysis because the world's democracies have the military power and responsibility to use force under international auspices. They also have an obligation to their citizens to make transparent decisions that conform to tenets of democratic accountability. We needed to understand how domestic politics might be used to ensure the effective implementation of decisions made by international institutions by strengthening national commitment to those institutions and popular support for their decisions.

-xix-

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