International Democracy and the West: The Role of Governments, Civil Society, and Multinational Business

International Democracy and the West: The Role of Governments, Civil Society, and Multinational Business

International Democracy and the West: The Role of Governments, Civil Society, and Multinational Business

International Democracy and the West: The Role of Governments, Civil Society, and Multinational Business

Synopsis

This book adds to debates over the international dimensions of democratic change by studying the policies and actions of three sets of Western actors: namely, governments, multinational companies, and international NGOs. This actor-based triangular approach responds to observations that the strategic, economic, and social aspects of international democracy have rarely been studied in a combined, holistic fashion. During the 1990s, Western governments, multinational companies, and civil society organizations all came to engage more notably in debates over democratic trends. But were they genuine when they professed a concern with democracy in developing countries? Which of these dynamics - governmental, commercial, or social - was the most influential in propelling efforts to encourage democratization and which helped explain the limits to democracy's international reach? Did political, economic, and social actors form a broad network of international democratic momentum, or did their respective perspectives increasingly diverge? Exploring these questions, the book presents extensive empirical material relating to Western policies in a number of developing regions, covering the period from the mid-1990s to 2003. Oxford Studies in Democratization is a series for scholars and students of comparative politics and related disciplines. Volumes concentrate on the comparative study of the democratization process that accompanied the decline and termination of the cold war. The geographical focus of the series is primarily Latin America, the Caribbean, Southern and Eastern Europe, and relevant experiences in Africa and Asia. The series editor is Laurence Whitehead, Official Fellow, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.

Excerpt

The completion of this book takes place against a background of profound instability and change in the international system. The US-led intervention in Iraq is just entering a frighteningly violent post-Saddam scenario; this conflict has added to an already growing tide of global civil society activity; and the progression of the international trade and investment architecture has also thrown multinational companies into the eye of increasingly political storms. A common thread permeating such international concerns relates to the impact on Western interests of democratic trends in developing and newly industrialized countries. And it is this issue, whose topicality is compounded by the fluidity of its backdrop, that forms the subject matter of this book.

The book adds to the vast literature that has in recent years accumulated on the various aspects of democratization by examining the perceived interests and strategies of different types of Western actors. It is contended here that there is merit in attempting to combine analysis of governmental, business, and NGO actors in a single analytical framework. The book adopts a 'triangular' approach, examining in turn the policies of Western governments, multinational companies and NGOs towards global democratic trends. By bringing together political, economic, and social dynamics, and assessing the interactions between these different actors, the book aims to provide a more comprehensive conceptualization of democracy's international dimensions. What has been the essential nature of democracy's international fortunes — both good and bad? Which set of actors — Western governments, MNCs, international civil society — has been most engaged in seeking to spread democratic norms around the world? How have these three groups of actors interrelated in the formulation of democracy-related policies? These are some of the principal questions around which the book is structured.

The summer of 2003 finds many aspects of international debates in dizzying flux. The travails of 'post-conflict' Iraq will have far-reaching ramifications for broader debates over international democracy. Western governments at this stage are just beginning to give firmer shape to their post-September 11 2001 commitments to attack the 'political roots' of terrorism in — it is asserted — the Arab world's autocratic repression.

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