Jonas Wolff, Hans-Joachim Spanger | 2017

The interaction of interests and norms in international democracy promotion

in: Journal of International Relations and Development, 20: 1, 80-107.

The existing research on international democracy promotion is characterised by a peculiar tension. On the one hand, many scholars agree that, since 1990, democracy promotion has indeed become a significant aim guiding the foreign and development policies of North-Western democracies. On the other hand, there is a far-reaching consensus that this normative goal is regularly ignored once it collides with economic and/or security interests. This article challenges the notion that we can understand the motives and drivers behind democracy promotion by assuming that interests and norms represent two neatly separated and clearly ranked types of factors. It argues that democracy promotion policies are the result of a complex interaction of interests and norms. After first developing this argument theoretically, the article presents results from a comparative research project on the US and German democracy promotion that support this claim.

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