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Four Trends That Could Put the Democratic Peace at Risk

US Flag

Courtesy AK Rockefeller/Flickr

This article was originally published by Political Violence @ a Glance on 14 October 2016.

Political scientists generally agree that democracies have a foreign policy advantage, particularly when it comes to conflict. Democracies – at least when compared to autocracies – make more credible threats, fight less, and win more.

There’s a lot more debate about why this might be the case, but in research with Matt Baum I argue that it comes down to institutional constraints. Free and fair elections are fine and well, but unless political opposition and an informed public are up to the task of forcing leaders to be responsive, the democratic advantage fades away. Driving the point home, some autocracies are so institutionalized that they effectively constrain leaders and, when they do, those countries look more like democracies in their conflict behavior and outcomes.

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The Big Question

Boys protest on the street in Honduras

This article was originally published by the World Policy Institute in its World Policy Journal in the Winter 2015/16 Issue.

What are the challenges determining your country’s position within Latin America?

The balance of power in Latin America is shifting. Large, recently thriving countries like Brazil are struggling, hampered by domestic scandals. The economies of oil-dependent countries like Venezuela and Ecuador are stagnant, while other nations, such as Chile and Mexico, seem poised for growth. Amid this turbulence, countries are striving to reposition themselves. World Policy Journal consulted a panel of experts to help understand what issues are defining their countries’ changing roles in the region.

ARGENTINA: NARCO STATE

MARIANO TURZI

The most pressing problem Latin America faces today is narcotrafficking. As Pope Francis mentioned in his U.N. speech in September, narcotrafficking is accompanied by human trafficking, money laundering, the arms trade, child exploitation, and other forms of corruption. This trade increases violence, with Latin America’s poorest people caught in the middle as the state tries to eliminate drug rings or stop rivalries between cartels.

Moreover, the narco state destroys economies. Illegal networks arise, concentrating on trafficking in substances, arms, and persons. But then they “diversify” into general smuggling and kidnapping. Narco-economies generate enclaves that displace other productive endeavors. Financial and human capital are chased away by the prospect of escalating violence.

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In the ICC’s Interest: Between ‘Pragmatism’ and ‘Idealism’?

The International Criminal Court in The Hague

The International Criminal Court in The Hague, courtesy of Vincent van Zeijst/Wikimedia Commons.

It is a regular occurrence to hear how the International Criminal Court (ICC) serves the interests of particular actors, be it warring governments, rebel groups, or members of the international community more broadly. Rarely, however, have scholars and observers considered how the ICC’s decision-making is shaped by the ICC’s own ‘institutional self-interest’.

At the heart of criticisms that the ICC is ‘political’ is the view that the Court is inherently and inevitably selective. This critique is deployed both within and between situations. In cases such as Uganda, Cote d’Ivoire and Libya, it is argued that the ICC has erred in targeting only one side of the conflict. Alternatively, it is argued that the Court focuses myopically on the weakest states in the international community (see the ICC-Africa debate), leaving situations where major power interests collide (e.g. Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan) beyond the reach of international justice. » More

The Other Elections

Who will fill the seats? The empty EU Parliament in Brussels / photo: Xavier Larrosa, flickr

Who will fill the seats? The empty EU Parliament in Brussels / photo: Xavier Larrosa, flickr

After India’s elections, they are the second-largest in the world. And when it comes to the complexity degree I am not sure who would be top of the list. A case in point: Candidates being elected in 27 different voting procedures and 27 election campaigns, each taking place according to its own rules.

What is it about the elections to the European Parliament that makes them so special and yet so debatable? It’s a question I asked myself when skimming through a Spiegel photo stream on the most bizarre candidates to the EU Parliament. Models and showgirls, the owner of a football club and a former cosmonaut – why do they all want to make it to Strasbourg and Brussels?
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