Extending democracy II: developmental democracy
Extending democracy II: developmental democracy
Abstract and Keywords
This chapter proposes a substantive vision of democracy called developmental democracy. It explains that the construction of this new vision of democracy is driven by an exploration of the full range of the democratic continuum. It discusses the framework for a developmental democracy and explains its five dimensions which include market development, human development, democratisation, participation and citizenship. This chapter evaluates the extent to which these five dimensions have been addressed by the United Nations and examines whether the individual parts of developmental democracy have become a greater whole or whether they remain fragmented in both theory and practice.
The idea that democracy encompasses more than processes and structures has been expressed by the UN and its Secretaries-General on several occasions. However, while the three visions of democracy explored thus far – civilisation, elections, governance – have all found expression at the UN in both ideational and practice form, democracy as governance did mark a conceptual and practical end-point for the UN democracy agenda. This chapter then takes a different turn and looks towards the future, analysing the shape a UN democracy agenda could assume if it developed a substantive vision of democracy. The construction of this new vision of democracy is driven by an exploration of the full range of the democratic continuum. If ‘civilisation’ was outside the continuum, ‘elections’ covered the left-hand side of the continuum and ‘governance’ the middle, then ‘developmental democracy’ seeks to move further to the right of the democratic continuum. Building on the ideas of a ‘citizen's democracy’ set out by a UNDP report on the state of democracy in Latin America, this chapter develops a framework for ‘developmental democracy’. To understand the potential for the extension of the democracy agenda towards a substantive vision of democracy, the five dimensions of developmental democracy outlined here – market development, human development, democratisation, participation and citizenship – will be analysed in turn to show how the UN has already addressed these dimensions and where further development is needed. The question then is whether the individual parts of developmental democracy have become a greater whole or whether they remain fragmented in both theory and practice.
Towards a definition of substantive UN democracy
The 2004 UNDP report Democracy in Latin America: Toward a Citizen’s Democracy (hereafter: Latin America report) marked a potential turning point in thinking about democracy at the UN. Although not an official document and solely focussed on Latin America, its in-depth engagement with the application and meaning of democracy provided an opportunity to envision a new form of UN democracy (p.118) support. Like the 2002 Human Development Report Deepening Democracy in a Fragmented World (hereafter: HDR), the Latin America report analysed the development of democracy, battling in particular with the phenomenon of ‘limited’ or ‘lowintensity’ democracy, that is, the lack of substance sufficient enough to infuse democratic institutions and processes to achieve sustainability, in many cases even legitimacy. Both reports found common ground in the idea that more democracy meant better democracy, stating that a deepening and widening of democratisation was necessary. However, their attempts to justify and enable such increased democratisation had markedly different outcomes. The HDR thus serves as a contrapoint to illustrate the potential of a developmental democracy as outlined by the Latin America report.
‘Deepening democracy’ and the Human Development Report 2002
The HDR, which analysed the relationship between human development and democracy, called for a third pillar to be added to the practice of human development. In addition to investment in education and health, and the promotion of equitable growth, the report added participation through democratic governance to human development. The HDR recognised that while democracy was important in its own right, it was also ‘the only political regime compatible with human development in its deepest sense, because in democracy political power is authorized and controlled by the people over whom it is exercised’ (UNDP 2002: 55). Thus, the popular foundation of democracy resonated fully with human development's mantra of ‘development of the people, for the people and by the people’ (UNDP 1993: 8). The HDR repeated that democracy is important in advancing human development not just because political freedoms and participation were fundamental human rights, but also because democracy was better able to deal with a number of challenges such as famine, chaos, and the management of conflict. Moreover, democracy triggered a virtuous cycle of development by providing the freedoms that empower people to ‘press for policies that expand social and economic opportunities, and [through] open debates help communities shape their priorities’ (UNDP 2002: 3). Governance for human development was consequently a qualitative development from other concepts of governance: ‘governance for human development must be democratic in substance and in form – by the people and for the people’, hence ‘from the human development perspective, good governance is democratic governance’ (UNDP 2002: 51–52).
Despite apparent complementarities between the principles of democracy and the foundations of human development, the HDR found that the ethos and goals of human development had failed to connect and infuse democratic institutions and processes. Without an automatic link between democracy and human development in either direction, the report found that the goals of democracy and equity should be considered separately, as ‘social injustices are widespread in democratic and authoritarian regimes alike’ (UNDP 2002: 59–60). Thus, the HDR (and UNDP) were not prepared to push the boundaries of established conceptions of democracy, but instead saw existing practices as a limit for understanding democracy. Although (p.119) the HDR regarded all three elements – elections, (good) governance and human development – as important, it conceptualised democracy in procedural or structural terms, as either elections or democratic governance, and excluded the substantive goals of human development as intrinsic to democratic society. Instead, human development remained conceptually separate. While the Human Development Report struggled to integrate the different elements of electoral democracy, good governance and human development into one coherent vision of democracy, the Latin America report attempted and succeeded at closing this gap by setting out a clear and cohesive agenda for a reconceptualisation of the processes and goals of a functioning sustainable democracy. It did so by stating why the goals of human development needed to be achieved within the context of a democratic society.
The UNDP ‘Democracy in Latin America’ report
The Latin America report analysed the state of the region's democracy and how it was viewed by its citizens. It drew on two methodological innovations to support its analysis: an Electoral Democracy Index and a Democracy Support Index. The Electoral Democracy Index measured the openness of the electoral process and the translation of voters’ preferences by the process. The Democracy Support Index registered the intensity of citizenship, that is, the degree of activism and the orientation of people towards democracy. It categorised people as democratic, ambivalent and non-democratic, and analysed how these groups were linked to each other.1 Using a variety of methods such as questionnaires and workshops with the general public, academic experts, politicians and business leaders, as well as data from 18 countries2, the report concluded that the greatest tension in Latin America was a – real or perceived – choice between economic development and democracy (UNDP 2004a: 137). Pronounced inequality and poverty potentially endangered democracy's stability. While electoral democracy had successfully spread throughout the region and democracy had become accepted as a viable political system, many people found themselves dissatisfied with their government's ability to deal with social and economic issues and acknowledged that they would choose a non-democratic system if this solved their economic problems. More positively, Latin Americans had learned to distinguish between those elected into office, their policies and actions, and the system of government offered by democracy.
As UNDP Administrator Mark Malloch Brown likened Latin Americans to ‘dissatisfied democrats’ rather than ‘closet autocrats’ (UNDP 2004b: 10), the Latin America report faced the same ‘cruel dilemma’ that democratisation scholars had debated before: Was development more important than democracy, or could both coexist? The Latin America report followed in the intellectual footsteps of those optimistic about the relationship between democracy and development and concluded that ‘problems with democracy need to be solved through more democracy’ (UNDP 2004b: 68). Based on the conviction that ‘democracy implies a way of envisaging the human being and guaranteeing individual rights’ (UNDP 2004a: 55), the report sought to develop a theory of democracy to address these challenges.
(p.120) Following the works of T.H. Marshall and Guillermo O’Donnell, the authors of the Latin America report re-stated the foundations of democracy as a ‘citizen's democracy’ and extended democracy beyond the political. Building on Sen's (1999b) capability approach the authors of the Latin America report went beyond political processes and conceptualised democracy as a means of guaranteeing and broadening freedom, justice and progress. They rejected the notion of a separation of political democracy (elections) from other elements of society and the state, such as the social and economic agenda, stressing that ‘[an] important consequence stemming from an understanding of democracy as only a system of government is a segmentary view of public policies’ (UNDP 2004a: 44). Instead, the state needed to integrate the needs of society into politics. Integration was necessary because democracy's ‘civilising promise’ inextricably linked the social and economic agendas to democracy as citizens have specific expectations about economic performance. In other words, people expect the ‘egalitarian promise’ that underlies the idea of democracy also to be realised in areas other than the political. Secondly, because both market and economy could critically affect democracy – for example, as unemployment creates a disconnect between economic and social development, between basic equalities and the capability to participate in public life (UNDP 2004a: 122) – the integration of societal needs into politics required debate about the nature of the market and the organisation of the economy.
Unlike previous reports, the Latin America report rejected the idea of the market and market forces as natural and therefore outside political debate (UNDP 2004a: 186). Instead, it argued that the market was not independent of the state. The market contextualised the organisation of the state, bestowing on the state a necessary role in guiding the market. Hence economic policies were just another democratic tool to enable the widening of freedom and equality. While the report, like previous UNDP and World Bank reports, concluded that enhancing ‘stateness’ was central to development, it stated, unlike previous reports, that what was needed most of all is an ‘all-encompassing, inclusive and compassionate state’ (UNDP 2004a: 183, emphasis added). As democracy should be measured by its capacity to guarantee and expand all dimensions of life, a citizen's democracy would follow a different approach, implementing a hierarchy and subordinating the market to democracy. In this framework society chooses the market rather than adjusts itself to market forces. Convinced that ‘capitalism has survived as the dominant form of economic organization not in spite of democracy but because of it’ (UNDP 2004a: 189), the report argued that the legitimacy of the economic system would be enhanced through a citizenship focus because democracy curtails the exclusion brought about by the market.
The Latin America report stressed that the individual was the source of the state's and the government's mandate and authority, claiming that as ‘democracy deals with life … its principal figure is the citizen rather than the voter’ (UNDP 2004a: 36). Despite the individualism inherent in this model, the individual's context was seen as being by nature collective. As such, the idea of citizen's democracy bridged the individual and the collective by recognising that a basic equalisation emanating from social welfare was a ‘primary aspect of fairness’ intrinsic to a universal right of rights and capabilities. As individuals are endowed with innate rights, (p.121) citizenship is a basic equality for members of community. Thus, ‘by virtue of simply being citizens, people have the right to have their dignity respected, and they also have the right to be granted the social conditions necessary to engage freely in all activities related to their social existence’ (UNDP 2004a: 68). Consequently, the report argued, democracy ought to be measured by its capacity to guarantee and expand the role of citizens in the civil, social and political sphere.
In order to demonstrate how social and economic rights had to be seen in conjunction with civil and political rights, and how the contradiction between the market's individualism and inequality, and democracy's basis of collectivism and equality could be reconciled, the authors of the Latin America report drew on T.H. Marshall's work on citizenship. While the concept of development as part of the democratic relationship recognises the need for social cohesion and social justice to be realised, this only gains full force through the notion of citizenship which circumscribes the relationship between rights and duties for both individuals and the state. Using education as an example, Marshall showed how the individual and the state are connected. According to Marshall, the ‘duty to improve and civilise oneself is … a social duty, and not merely a personal one, because the social health of a society depends upon the civilisation of its members’ (Marshall 1992: 16). Education includes not only an individual right to a public service for the purpose of intellectual (and professional) development with the aim to gain future material opportunities, it is also a public duty owed by the individual to society as a whole: ‘education is a necessary prerequisite of civil freedom’ (Marshall 1992: 16). In other words, society and the individual are connected, mutually constituting each other. While individuals have an obligation towards each other as part of the community, the state equally has an obligation towards society as a whole since ‘what matters is that there is a general enrichment of the concrete substance of civilised life, a general reduction of risk and insecurity, an equalisation between the more and the less fortunate at all levels’ (Marshall 1992: 33). Education, a ‘genuine’ right, shapes future citizens and therefore contributes to the development of both individual and society as a whole. Following this, democracy has a developmental role in the facilitation of individual and collective rights. These rights include a basic level of economic welfare and security, as well as the right to share one's social heritage and live life as a ‘civilised being’. Social services and education are necessary to achieve this.
Citizenship and a citizen's democracy was thus UNDP's solution to resolve the contradiction between market and democracy. The introduction of a citizenship democracy in the Latin America report was critical for the profiling of a potentially new form of UN democracy. Where the HDR 2002 had separated the state and the citizen from each other, the Latin America report provided a clear justification for why people should participate in society and development and why they should benefit from development: individual development depends on macro-economic development and vice versa. In a developmental democracy the individual, society and the state cannot be seen as separate. Citizenship is therefore both individual and social. It circumscribes the relationship between rights and duties for both individuals and the state. Thus, in a citizen's democracy people are moved to the centre of politics.
(p.122) Developmental democracy defined: a summary
As Chapter 2 showed, a substantive democracy is essentially a developmental one as it emphasises both the conditions for and the processes of developing individuals, markets and the state. As discussed in Chapter 2, the ideas of developmental democracy have been in use since the nineteenth century although the concept has found more explicit usage in recent democratisation studies. According to Held (1996), developmental democracy and the developmental state were first expressed by John Stuart Mill and may therefore be one of the earliest concepts of the democratic welfare interventionist state and the mixed economy. By contrast, democratisation studies debated the question of the developmental democracy, or developmental state, in the context of stalling transition processes of the Third Wave, also with historical reference to successful development in non-democratic states such as Singapore.
Political theorists regard substantive democracy as developmental in that it considers participation as an end in itself and believes in a ‘democratic humanism’ that needs to be spread throughout society. In this view democracy is ‘a way of life: it “cannot … depend upon or be expressed in political institutions alone”’ (Dewey 1939: 130). Developmental democracy combines the protection and regulation of the market by the state with a free market and the right to property. Yet, developmental democracy is also a state that aims to foster both economic development and societal well-being. Despite an apparent collectivist focus, political theorists see the development of the individual as taking centre stage. Democracy is the framework and vehicle through which individual development is facilitated. Discursive action and a variety of participatory mechanisms enable citizens to transform themselves (Pateman 1970) as they gain an enlightened understanding through critique and self-critique (Stokes 2002: 38–39). Therefore democracy has an educative and moral function:
Material aspects of individual development are equally important in this developmental democracy insofar as the individual is not just a consumer and appropriator but ‘an exerter, developer, and enjoyer of his capacities’ (Macpherson 1977: 48). The individual's worth depends on the extent to which such developmental potential is realised. Following this, a ‘good’ society protects a system in which people are able to develop their human capacities. This task of development falls to democracy as Macpherson concludes that ‘a democratic society is seen as both a result of that improvement and a means to further improvement’ (Macpherson 1977: 47).
the exercise of citizenship is crucial for the development of the individual's moral maturity. The person grows as a social being: judgement requires thought; participation dispels inertia; and consideration of the common good nurtures altruism … A citizen is a different kind of person from the vassal of a feudal lord, a landowner's serf or the subject of a divine-right monarch. The distinction lies primarily in the moral autonomy and high level of moral behaviour which characterises at least the ‘good citizen’ in his ideal form. (Heater 2004: 188)
(p.123) In contrast to political theory, scholars studying democratisation processes define ‘development’ primarily in economic, not moral terms, as the Latin America report showed. Hence the debate about developmental democracy is related to the question of how (economic) development is facilitated, the relative strength of the state and the level of freedom, rights and liberties guaranteed by the state. Central to this is the question of democracy's place in the development process, be that at the end of development, as modernisation theory had posited, or as an integral part or facilitator of the process regardless of the level of development (Diamond 1992; Leftwich 2000; Lipset 1959; Sirowy and Inkeles 1991). The arguments for democracy versus the ‘strong’ state or the (quasi-) authoritarian state as development agent were rehearsed in Chapter 4. Chapter 5 showed how the introduction of the human development agenda may have led to further recognition of individual development over macro-economic development to this discussion, mirroring Macpherson's call for material development to support individual development. Thus, while political theory and democratisation studies have different foci, that is, either the individual or the collective, they highlight the interdependence between them and emphasise the process of democracy beyond election day and the importance of ‘development’ in everyday life.
Taking into account both strands of analysis, it follows that a substantive or developmental democracy has at its heart the imperative to provide and maintain development. This development ought to focus on the individual as well as the state (i.e. macro-economic factors), as they are interdependent and mutually constituting: ‘a developmental democracy would combine a reasonable measure of social justice, defined as fairness in the distribution of wealth, with economic and political freedom’ (Sklar 1996: 37). Following this, ‘democracy implies the public management and nurture of markets so that they will flourish with affordable fairness in the distribution of opportunities and wealth’ (Sklar 1996: 39). Figure 6.1 outlines the dimensions of a developmental democracy emerging from both political theory and democratisation studies: the development of the economy as a whole irrespective of distribution issues across groups and individuals, the economic development of the individual taking into account distribution across society (equality), the political development of the state (democratisation) and the political development of the individual (enlightenment/participation).
It is important to note that despite a focus on the state's responsibility to provide and ensure development, the state in a developmental democracy does not necessarily
Markets, states and people: whose development?
The first contribution to the concept of developmental democracy was made through the good governance agenda. Despite the qualitative dimensions introduced by good governance (such as transparency, accountability and the functional strength of institutions), the practice of good governance was initially conceived as apolitical. However, out of this new practice and the discourse surrounding it emerged something more important: a statement by the UN on its relationship to markets and capitalism, and the role of development practice in relation to this. While this has been largely taken for granted, in the context of conceptualising democracy such statement plays a central role. The UN is committed to the market model insofar as the goals of progress, development and modernisation are enshrined in the UN Charter: ‘to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom’ (UN Charter, preamble). As UNDP had highlighted in its Human Development Reports, the idea of modernisation and its macro-economic focus are in conflict with the demands of people-centred development that achieves the kind of equality envisaged by models of substantive democracy, or at a minimum prevents socio-economic deprivation and poverty. Following the provisions of the UN Charter, a substantive vision of democracy would have to be located within a market-based framework. Developmental democracy, with its focus on both markets and people, could be the middle way between the competing demands of both.
The vision of democracy that emerged through the introduction of the good governance agenda is one of a substantive liberal democracy. This is neither a contradiction nor a surprise, despite the battle played out in democracy theory between (p.125) substantive democracy and liberalism where the individualism inherent in capitalism is seen as running counter to the communitarian dimension of substantive theories of democracy. As Gould (1988) argues, liberalism fails to take sufficient account of social co-operation and social equality, while socialism subordinates individual rights to the community and the welfare society. Liberalism thus stresses individual liberties and it is in capitalism that this liberty expresses itself. For example, the right to property is an individual liberty and central aspect of equality and freedom. With this right to property, capitalist market economies function effectively. Yet, the imperative of political equality to provide individuals with the same rights, here the right to property, may indeed lead to larger economic inequality. Because of this, political equality is distorted and cannot be fully exercised. Not only does greater economic power lead to greater possibilities to participate in the political process, be that physically or intellectually (e.g. access to health care and education), it may also lead to an effective distortion of the political process as economic interests are combined with political power. This distortion and political-economic inequality is at the heart of the communitarian dimension of substantive/developmental democracy. While Marxism saw this equalisation imperative as universal, others, such as theorists of social democracy, recognised a general guiding role of the state in tempering rather than eliminating market forces as sufficient. In a developmental democracy, the communitarian dimension centres on the goal to achieve more social and economic equality through the reduction of the most excessive results of market forces. Developmental democracy seeks to develop markets, states and people, recognising the connection between them.
As organisations dedicated to supporting and implementing development goals, the World Bank and UNDP form the ‘international machinery’ for the promotion of the economic and social progress. Their policies and practices affect the processes and outcomes of development and could therefore determine whether the developmental dimension of democracy could be realised. The good governance agendas of the World Bank and UNDP had suggested different approaches to development in which different emphases were placed on economic and individual development. The World Bank made clear that it pursued a pro-capitalist agenda in which good governance was merely a means to an end. Its mandate, which stresses economic assistance and prohibits political activity in any form, re-inforced this. Whereas at the World Bank development, and with it good governance, was directed towards the efficiency and effectiveness of institutions and processes to ensure economic development, UNDP claimed that this approach was insufficiently focussed on macro-economic criteria such as GDP, ignoring people's lived experiences in this developmental process of the state and the economy. These differences, as well as any similarities between the World Bank and UNDP, were most obvious in their 1997 reports on governance and the state. The World Bank's World Development Report The State in a Changing World sought to redefine the state, emphasising state effectiveness as key to the Bank's strategy. This included a redefinition of the state's responsibility to be more selective in its activity, as well as the increase of state capability to ‘undertake and promote collective actions efficiently’ (World Bank 1997: 3). The resulting strategy was to match the state's role to its capability and to raise capability through the re-invigoration of (p.126) public institutions. This included a better provision of public services and increased state responsiveness to the needs and wishes of citizens, which could be achieved through greater decentralisation but also through increased participation. One way to achieve this was elections, as the Bank claimed that ‘the best-established mechanism for giving citizens voice is the ballot box’ (World Bank 1997: 10). Despite acknowledging the merits of elections for the first time, the Bank continued to reject substantive democratic practices and instead focussed on effectiveness.
By contrast, in its discussion paper Reconceptualising Governance and its policy paper Governance for Sustainable Human Development UNDP embraced democracy more openly and sought to include substance through human development criteria. UNDP claimed that governance had to go beyond public management and even participatory decision-making processes, to include democracy and the question of legitimate authority (UNDP 1997: 86). Governance was seen as relating to all areas of state and society, encompassing economic, political, administrative and systemic governance. Hence, a sound governance system would be able to produce the goals of sustainable human development (including poverty reduction, job creation and sustainable livelihoods, environmental protection and the regeneration and advancement of women) (UNDP 1997: 11, 13). UNDP, like the World Bank, emphasised state effectiveness as crucial to the achievement of these objectives. However, unlike the Bank, UNDP saw it necessary ‘to create an efficient and effective system of social benefits’ including systems of social insurance and social assistance for the protection of the vulnerable and the achievement of social integration to narrow the gaps between rich and poor. Thus, ‘governments should … work to ensure the satisfaction of basic needs in ways that are human. In many circumstances this can best be done by increasing economic democracy’ (UNDP 1997: 30, emphasis added).
UNDP allowed for a broader, more political governance agenda and thus highlighted the potential for a vision of democracy that moved beyond the procedural and institutional aspects of democracy towards more substantive forms of democratic societies. Although these democratic structures which UNDP supported did not differ significantly from those addressed by the World Bank's good governance approach, it was UNDP's philosophical approach, summarised in the concept of ‘sustainable human development’, which extended the concept of governance. Building on Sen's capability approach and measuring development as an improvement of people's life rather than macro-economic progress, UNDP took up the UN Charter's ideas to promote social progress and better standards of living, that is, to enable ‘life in larger freedom’. By focussing on outputs beneficial to people rather than effectiveness and efficiency, UNDP's governance agenda offered the possibility to embed governance structures with substance and meaning. Here, social issues were not subservient to wider economic goals but an end in themselves. Political and economic structures, processes and policies were mutually constitutive. This emphasised that democratisation was a never-ending process, not an historical end-point. As such, the development of democratic structures was supposed to propel the process of political and economic development forward in a concerted effort to achieve human development, that is, the development of both individual and society. While UNDP's focus on human development may appear to be in tension with a (p.127) pro-market agenda, the introduction of human development made a significant contribution to the concept of developmental democracy by highlighting the importance of individuals in relation to the state as collective, therefore providing a (new) foundation for the relationship between the people and the state.
The development of markets and the fight against poverty have of course been part of the UN's agenda since its inception. However, establishing a relationship between them beyond the idea that the former (development of markets) inevitably leads to the latter (relief from poverty) had not been made by policy or statements before. Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali hinted that the World Bank approach was too market-focussed, yet he did not make any particular statement in support of either the World Bank's or UNDP's approach. Instead, he referred to both as examples for the efficacy of the governance agenda. The introduction of anti-poverty policies by the new Bank president James D. Wolfensohn in 1998 somewhat narrowed the gap between the two governance approaches, providing a foundation for Kofi Annan to embrace and institutionalise the human development approach as the key guiding UN principle through the introduction of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The Millennium agenda served as a framework of humane governance as Secretary-General Annan emphasised that ‘no shift in the way we think or act can be more critical than this: we must put people at the centre of everything we do’ (UNGA 18 September 2000, A/RES/55/2, para. 7). This then established a type of people-centred politics that at its heart expressed the same foundations as democracy. Annan expressed the MDGs in detailed operational targets which mirrored the indices set out by the HDI and emphasised the impact of development (or underdevelopment) on people's life, be that life expectancy, health or education. Thus, by adopting a focus on humane governance and people-centred politics, Kofi Annan in effect denounced the World Bank's original governance approach as insufficiently focussed on systems and structures. Accordingly, speaking about globalisation, Secretary-General Annan emphasised that globalisation must mean more than just bigger markets. Instead, ‘to survive and thrive, a global economy must have a more solid foundation in shared values and institutional practices – it must advance broader, and more inclusive, social purposes’ (Annan 2000a: 10, emphasis added). With this in mind Annan followed Sen's philosophy that had formed the basis for UNDP's human development agenda and claimed that extreme poverty was an affront to the world's common humanity. While the MDGs relied on translating substantive goals into technical-operational strategies, they also signified a shift in the understanding of the relationship between individuals, states and international society, a shift that was mirrored by developments in security concepts (see below). People were increasingly seen as being at the centre of UN goals, be that in development or security. Together with the recognition of democracy as a human right, the opportunity for a further entrenchment of the democracy agenda was given. Despite this, the MDGs relegated democracy to second place, relying on democracy as a supporting mechanism, not as an end in itself.
Although Annan had initiated the Millennium Assembly, he did not use this as a platform for democracy promotion. Annan stated that democracy played a central (p.128) role in ensuring freedom, development, and human rights. Yet, the Millennium Report did not express this. The Roadmap for the Implementation of the Millennium Declaration, which the Secretary-General subsequently devised to operationalise the Millennium Goals, indeed no longer featured democracy at all. Instead, its eight goals, eighteen targets and forty indicators, focussed on quantifiable development factors such as the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, and the achievement of universal primary education by 2015. Although the importance of other goals, such as democracy, was emphasised, this focus relegated democracy to the background, making it into a means through which the Millennium Goals could be achieved, rather than a goal itself. Making an explicit connection between democracy and the elimination of social inequalities and poverty through ‘equal access to economic opportunities and equal pay and other rewards for work of equal value … [and] … social protection systems and working towards ensuring basic social services for all’ was left to other agencies, as outlined here by Resolution 2000/47, UNHCHR, which established the right to democracy (UNHCHR 25 April 2000).
Democratisation: deepening democracy?
Among the five criteria outlined in the matrix of developmental democracy, democratisation is perhaps the most visible. Without a doubt, the UN has continued its support of and involvement in democratisation over the last twenty years. Indeed a clear trajectory of broadening and deepening the scope of involvement is evident. Democratisation is supported not only by an increase in volume of UN support as well as the institutional integration of democracy into the UN system, but also through greater recognition of democracy by member states. This recognition lends credibility to the UN agenda and creates a parallel network of democracy support activity that gives further impetus to democracy and the process of democratisation. In this process, the UN became a member, if not the hub, of a global network of international and transnational democracy support activities.
Secretary-General Annan's first democracy support report may have suggested that after the decided yet controversial lobbying by Boutros Boutros-Ghali the democracy agenda would operate more quietly and perhaps falter. Annan suggested that a great deal of paperwork in compiling an annual inventory of democracy support activities was unnecessary and he therefore proposed to reduce the number of reports relating to democracy. Until then the Secretary-General had compiled an annual report, providing an inventory of assistance given by the UN system to governments to strengthen new and restored democracies. Now, in line with his organisational reform efforts, a publication was to be compiled only in preparation for the International Conferences of New and Restored Democracies, which were held irregularly every few years (UNSG 26 September 2003, A/58/392). This change in publication practice hinted at reduced opportunities for the Secretary-General to effect substantive change by moving this discourse outside the organisation into a broad, but not universal, conference. A potential result could have been the decline of the democracy agenda due to a lack of attention by member states. Yet by (p.129) emphasising the operational dimension of democracy, in which democracy support practices served as vehicle to distribute or promote democracy throughout the UN system, democracy remained very much in view of UN member states.
Following increasing institutionalisation of the democracy agenda and a greater emphasis on the philosophy of people-centred politics, Kofi Annan's proposals in the Millennium Report to strengthen democracy found broad support among member states. Indeed, in some aspects member states went beyond the Secretary-General's proposals. As world leaders gathered in New York for the Millennium Summit in September 2000, they agreed to ‘spare no effort to promote democracy and strengthen the rule of law, as well as respect for all internationally recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development’, and promised to ‘work collectively for more inclusive political processes, allowing genuine participation by all citizens’ and to ‘strengthen the capacity of all our countries to implement the principles and practices of democracy and respect for human rights’ (UNGA 18 September 2000, A/RES/55/2, para. 24–25). Moreover, an increasing number of member states showed interest in and participated in prodemocracy conferences such as the International Conference of New or Restored Democracies, which was now organised in close co-operation with the UN and which had opened up participation to all interested governments. Other organisations such as the International Organisation of the Francophonie and African Unity adopted declarations which emphasised the importance of democracy, good governance and human rights, and developed strategies for their achievement. In June 2000 the first meeting of the Community of Democracies, initiated by Polish Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek and US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, led to a pledge of 106 states to work together to uphold and promote democratic principles and values. In his closing speech to the Warsaw Ministerial Conference, Secretary-General Annan praised the Community's efforts and remarked that the idea of Towards a Community of Democracies ‘represents my own most profound aspiration for the United Nations as a whole’ and that ‘when the United Nations can truly call itself a community of democracies, the Charter's noble ideals of protecting human rights and promoting “social progress in larger freedoms” will have been brought much closer’ (Annan 2000b). The Community of Democracies movement (and its parallel democracypromoting NGO movement) then fed back into the UN by organising a UN Democracy Caucus in September 2004 where member states sought to collaborate on democracy and democracy-related issues to advance the global democracy agenda. In 2005 the follow-up meeting to the Millennium Summit further supported and legitimised the democracy agenda, leading member states to confirm democracy as one of the ‘universal and indivisible core values and principles of the United Nations’ and to agree ‘to resolve to create a more … democratic world’ (UNGA 24 October 2005, A/RES/60/1, para. 16).
Operationally the democracy agenda continued to develop apace, even if in 2003 Kofi Annan stressed that the organisation was still in the process of determining how best to support democratisation processes. He highlighted that he needed to continue to emphasise the need for good governance, that is, ‘legitimate, democratic governance that allows each individual to flourish and each State to thrive’ as the (p.130) promotion of democracy was ‘one of the main goals of the Organization for the twenty-first century’ (UNSG 26 September 2003, A/58/392, para. 12). In his 2005 report In Larger Freedom, Annan proposed the establishment of a Democracy Fund, following a previous proposal at the 2000 Community of Democracies meeting. Stating that it was ‘time to join up the dots’ as there were still significant gaps in UN capacity in several areas, the fund was envisaged to facilitate closer co-operation between the Electoral Assistance Division of the DPA and the democratic governance work of UNDP. Not only should there be better coordination and resource mobilisation, but Annan stressed that ‘the United Nations should not restrict its role to normsetting but should expand its help to its members to further broaden and deepen democratic trends throughout the world’ (UNSG 21 March 2005, A/59/2005, para. 151). Established in 2006, the UN Democracy Fund (UNDEF) is a trust fund by Secretary-General which works with a number of UN bodies to coordinate democracy support activities. Addressing democracy support from the supply side, it offers states, NGOs and civil society financial support for the implementation and development of democracy support projects. The Fund has proven popular as almost 6000 applications have been received and to 600 projects have been funded in the first three years (see http://www.un.org/democracyfund/).
Does this continued engagement in democratisation indicate a move towards substantive democracy? Is this democratisation support a sign that developmental democracy can be achieved? While the resolution of the 2005 Summit showed that the idea of democracy may have been accepted by member states, it did not resolve or indeed address the dilemmas and tensions built into the agenda. Not only did member states focus on the rule of law and human rights as the main theme defining democracy, and placed good governance and democracy in the context of economic development, they separated democracy from UN root ideas (‘our common values’). Member states thus re-inforced existing dilemmas and the concept's position on the borderline between procedural-systemic and substantive democracy. Morevover, both A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility by the Secretary-General's High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change and the Secretary-General's own subsequent report In Larger Freedom: Towards Development, Security and Human Rights For All, written in preparation for the summit, emphasised the importance of sovereignty and state capacity, and framed UN activity in the context of its obligation to support weak states, helping states to perform the tasks of sovereignty effectively (see UN 2004; UNSG 21 March 2005, A/59/2005). A wider definition of democracy, that is, popular sovereignty, might have been hinted at but a traditional interpretation of sovereignty could not be overcome. Democracy was therefore understood as limited technical support, primarily aimed at a certain group of states.
Operationally, the scope of the Democracy Fund raises questions about the breadth and depth of democratisation (processes) supported by the UN. Considering that the majority of its funding is allocated to projects in partly free states and in the lower end of the category of ‘free states’, with very few projects funded in non-free states (Freedom House 2006), the question begs whether UNDEF may be preaching to the converted. Moreover, the promise of the Democracy Fund may be limited by its strong emphasis on supporting ‘the voice of civil society’, that is, select groups, and its narrow (p.131) focus on political democracy, especially elections (e.g. electoral support, strengthening political parties). This shows that an integrated practice and substantive democracy is not part of the Fund's approach, even where the concept of citizenship has entered its discourse. On its webpage UNDEF asks its Advisory Board to consider whether the Fund should indeed address all three dimension of citizenship highlighted by the 2004 Latin America Report as it recognises that ‘the process of democratisation identified inter alia in the Millennium Declaration cannot be truly disentangled from poverty reduction and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals themselves’ (http://www.un.org/democracyfund/XSituatingDemocracy.htm). Unfortunately, an answer is not discernable to date. In summary, the UN's engagement in democratisation therefore appears to focus on spreading and continuing democracy where it already exists, rather than deepening democracy.
Participation and democracy: two false friends?
The good governance agenda not only extended democratic principles such as accountability and transparency towards state structures, but also extended the principle of participation beyond elections. Although this demonstrated the attractiveness and pervasiveness of the idea of democracy, the practice of participatory development, a form of ‘micro’ or grass-root level democracy (Weiss et al. 1994), did not necessarily prove to be a democratic one.
In line with UNDP's people-centred approach, the 1993 Human Development Report had introduced a focus on participation to the human development agenda, claiming that previous reports had focussed on ‘development of the people and for the people’ only. This focus on participation, however, added the notion of ‘development by the people’. Placing people at the centre of political and economic developments, the report called for a ‘revolution in our thinking … a profound human revolution that makes people's participation the central objective in all parts of life. Every institution – and every policy action – should be judged by one critical test: how does it meet the genuine aspirations of the people?’ (UNDP 1993: 8). Participation was seen as an essential element in human development, being both means and end, an investment in and achievement of human capabilities. People should be involved in the cultural, political, economic and social processes that affect their lives. They might do so individually, for example through the ballot box, or in groups as part of civil society.
In this participatory framework democracy was not regarded as limited to elections, neither was it seen as the only arena of participation. Instead, it was regarded as a way of life. Accordingly, democracy was a general means for interaction in a number of arenas, connecting the individual with society in more meaningful ways. Thus, democracy was both a means to achieve participation and an end, a condition, system or state in which the individual was given the opportunity to flourish and take charge of their own development. Hence, the 1993 HDR stated that democracy would be crucial even in the workplace as only within a democratic environment would people achieve satisfaction from work and a sense of contribution to the (p.132) development of society (UNDP 1993: 21–23). UNDP's very broad understanding of participation clearly focussed on the principle of participation, rather than its form. This emphasis mirrored the value placed on participation in democracy theory as discussed in Chapter 2. Here it was demonstrated that participation, together with equality, was seen as the key to demos kratein, the people's rule. While elections were a central feature of participation for minimal democracy, a broadened scope of participation beyond elections was the key aim of proponents of substantive democracy. Most importantly, in the substantive vision of democracy, the process of participation had value in itself, as it was the means to empower and enlighten people, creating an ‘informed citizen’.
Critics, however, pointed out that the application of a practice of participation in development assistance had in fact de-politicised participation and instead formalised a form of aid delivery in which blame for failure could easily be shifted away from the aid organisation to the ‘participants’ (Henkel and Stirrat 2001: 183). As Cleaver (2001) states, by moving away from a focus on democratic participation and empowerment, participatory development practice had become formalised, focussing on formal organisations and problem-solving rather than institutions of informal interaction, problematising and critical engagement. Further criticism was directed at the agencies’ misunderstanding and inadequate conceptualisation of local power. By viewing the community as a singular entity, while emphasising community as the sole source of knowledge, power and interests, agencies ignored local power differentials and questions of community membership. Critically, however, by using the language of emancipation, people were incorporated into capitalism and existing power structures. This was made possible by using participation and ‘agreement’ of previously marginalised groups as a justification for the existence of an ‘authentic’ process and product (Williams 2004: 558). Thus, as Parfitt stressed, participatory development was inherently contradictory and ambiguous, shifting between a focus on either means or ends, between project efficiency and output, and empowerment (Parfitt 2004: 554). Again, this was emphasised by the World Bank's narrow approach to participatory development, which stood in opposition to the broader, political approach adopted by UNDP.
Participatory mechanisms had been used by the World Bank since the 1960s and 1970s, primarily in agricultural and rural development (World Bank 1994b). In the 1990s the Bank further developed these early experiences of quasi-democratic processes parallel to its governance agenda, as its 1994 report The World Bank and Participation showed. However, the Bank's position on participation mirrored its position on governance – both were instrumental to the achievement of economic outcomes by improving the utilisation of human and physical resources. Even where direct links to the poor were sought, this was done through the market. The World Bank justified this approach by stressing that although stakeholders ought to be involved in the development process in order to increase the effectiveness and ownership of the project, the main stakeholder remained the government not the people (World Bank 1994b)
The Bank's disconnect from the people (i.e. project recipients) was evident where it outlined the different levels of participation and participatory mechanism it (p.133) employed. According to the Bank, participation could take place in four ways. First, participation could involve information-sharing in which knowledge was simply made available to recipients. Secondly, participation could be based on consultation, that is, a two-way communication in which recipients were given the opportunity to feed back into the project process. Thirdly, it could take the shape of collaboration where control over decisions and resources was shared. Fourth, the World Bank's final stage of participation was defined as empowerment, in which resources and decisions were transferred to the recipients and the Bank's main role was to enable recipients to make use of these powers (World Bank 2001: 2). While this last stage was most obviously in harmony with the principles of substantive democracy, it was also the least used mechanism. The Bank was clearly aware that by using ‘instrumental approaches [such as information-sharing and consultation], the Bank is basically engaged in social marketing of its operational plans’ (World Bank 1994b, annex 6, p. 6), which meant that a move towards empowerment had not taken place in most development projects. Similarly, UNDP did not facilitate a transformative process of development and change, despite its recent focus on creating more participatory structures through decentralisation, local governance and civil society programmes (UNDP Management and Governance Division undated).
However limited those participation mechanisms utilised by either UNDP or the World Bank were, their use certainly facilitated a discourse of democracy. Both Secretaries-General Javier Perez de Cuellar and Boutros Boutros-Ghali had emphasised the participatory element of democracy, thereby drawing attention to the importance of individual empowerment, which was conceptualised in stark contrast to authoritarian, non-democratic regimes. Indeed, participation often served as the key differential between two end-points of the democratisation process (UNSG 7 August 1995, A/50/332; 19 November 1991, A/46/609). Their hope thus mirrored Williams’ claim that transparency and openness might serve as pressure points at which political capabilities could be used and subsequently further developed, potentially leading to a wider debate of political rights:
Following his general approach to conceptualise democracy through practice, Secretary-General Annan highlighted the importance of institutions such as the rule of law and most importantly, the general acceptance of the mechanics of the system by everyone so that ‘all citizens … feel that their rights and views are respected and that they have some say in decision-making’ (Annan 2002: 138). He therefore justified not only participation as an important democratic principle but also the particular choice of democracy support through institution-building, (p.134) claiming that these were important channels to achieve the participatory goals of democracy. Moreover, the democratic process was conceptualised as central to the achievement of the human-rights-based approach, which was introduced as part of the mainstreaming of human rights and organisational reforms. Participation was regarded not only as a right in itself but also an important procedural goal as ‘rights should not only be promoted and protected by duty-bearers, but practised and experienced by rights-holders’ (Ljungman 2004: 13). With this, the HRBA introduced a move towards more inclusive and democratic processes in which people were involved in decisions over resources and institutions (Cornwall and Nyamu-Musembi 2004: 1424) as ‘in a dynamic world, democratic processes and poverty reduction would continuously feed into strengthening the rights-based effort’ (Ljungman 2004: 8).
actually existing participation, for all its shortcomings, provides a range of opportunities through which state power can be actively called to account. These opportunities will not be isolated moments of liberation or professional ‘reversals’, nor do they require a post-developmental retreat to idealised ‘local’ spaces to escape participation's totalising power. Rather, they will be found within longer-term political struggles and reshaped political networks that link themselves to a discourse of rights and a fuller sense of citizenship. (Williams 2004: 573)
Citizenship or people-centred politics?
The most controversial criterion of those outlined in the developmental democracy matrix is without a doubt citizenship. More than anything else citizenship here highlights the relationship between the people and the state. It defines how the state and the people should relate to each other. Democracy may have raised the importance of the people, yet it is citizenship which adds a formal and foundational dimension to the idea of ‘people's rule’. Yet, despite the (renewed) importance afforded to the people as part of the democracy agenda, neither a discourse nor an agenda of citizenship have emerged. Where the idea of citizenship has gained some traction, for example in the context of the UN Democracy Fund, this has centred on participation. Reminiscent of the transformative ideal of participation outlined by democracy theorists such as Macpherson (1977) or Pateman (1970), citizenship as participation seeks to offer more opportunities for involvement and ownership. However, citizenship as participation is only relatively more substantive than other procedural forms of democracy, such as elections. While it offers multiple opportunities to engage in the democratic process and therefore educate the ‘democratic citizen’, its procedural focus does not meet the expectations set out by the concept of a citizen's democracy and its foundational perspective. It does not fundamentally change or address the relationship between citizens, the state and the market.
The lack of a substantive engagement with citizenship, however, does not undermine the significant effects of a move towards people-centred politics. People-Centred politics refocussed ideas and practices onto people, their experience of development, human rights and security. In theory, people-centred politics raised associations with democracy, for if politics were centred on people then this implied the people's participation in or even control over politics. To be sure, as the analysis of participatory development showed, very different forms of participation existed, including several that were pseudo-democratic. These pretended to involve stakeholders while retaining power with development organisations. At the same time, people-centred politics could be seen as a call for benevolent rule and the observance of human rights. The fact that member states had recognised a right to (p.135) democracy certainly gave the UN democracy agenda an important impetus and, most of all, legitimacy. The increased emphasis on and recognition of human rights indeed highlighted the value of the individual in a system of states and therefore raised the question of what to do when these rights were violated. Similarly, by placing positive development outcomes for people at the centre, human development was a key element in creating people-centred politics. In other words, people-centred politics could be conceptualised through frameworks such as human development, human security or the ‘Responsibility to Protect’. These served as ‘conceptual niches’ in which democracy could nestle. By coupling democracy with these new, people-centred frameworks, the democracy agenda not only gained broader application and greater legitimacy, it in turn validated some of the more ‘radical’ ideas, especially those relating to peace and security.
The focus on the relationship between state and people, and the language of rights and duties, as implied by the idea of citizenship here, was expressed in the human-rights-based approach (HRBA) to development, which Secretary-General Annan had called for in 1998 as part of his organisational restructuring efforts. The HRBA reconceptualised the relationship between actors in the development process by stating that governments, states or international society had duties to facilitate. Rather than conceive of development as a relationship of dependence and hierarchy, the HRBA dismissed the notion of ‘charity’ as an inadequate motivation for development assistance. Instead, following international human rights law which defined states as duty-bearers with obligations to respect, to protect and to fulfil the human rights commitments for all citizens, development was seen as an entitlement or right. Consequently, the HRBA not only aimed at better understanding the context which contributed to deprivation, addressing structural and procedural problem causes, but sought to identify all duty-bearers and rights-holders (Ljungman 2004). The anchor for the operationalisation of development programmes under the HRBA was therefore the principles underlying human rights: universality and inalienability, indivisibility, interdependence and interrelatedness, equality and non-discrimination, participation and inclusion, and accountability and the rule of law. To achieve its goals, the HRBA was centred on a strategy of empowering and enabling rights-holders to claim their rights, and to strengthen the capacity of duty-bearers to meet their obligations (UNSG 26 September 2003, A/58/392).
The similarities between human rights and human development were thus more than superficial as both shared the goal of human freedom and the values of human well-being and dignity (Manzo 2003: 447). In this sense, the HRBA would help to support the human development aspect of developmental democracy, while its focus on rights mirrored the relationship between citizens and the state described by citizenship. However, while the introduction of the HRBA opened up new opportunities to institutionalise the democracy agenda, supported by the growing acceptance of a right to democracy3, it remained fundamentally an operational principle for UN development practice. With its two-pronged strategy of empowerment and capacity-building reminiscent of existing governance and human development programmes, the HRBA was another form of advocacy for human development4 rather than an advance towards the democratic principle of citizenship.
(p.136) Just as Ljungman (2004) noted that a move to talk about rights would not necessarily guarantee the end of poverty and underdevelopment because states could legitimately violate the right to development if poverty persisted, the Responsibility to Protect similarly raised the promise of citizenship but fell short of even institutionalising a general strategy of people-centred politics. Following Secretaries-General Javier Perez de Cuellar and Boutros Boutros-Ghali, who both had emphasised that sovereignty was no longer absolute, Kofi Annan supported the idea of popular sovereignty and people-centred politics in its security dimension. Annan went further than both Perez de Cuellar and Boutros-Ghali to demonstrate that sovereignty had two dimensions and that the international community could no longer ignore the individual for the state. Following the ideas of Francis Deng, UN Special Representative on Internally Displaced Persons, and Roberta Cohen, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, Kofi Annan used the changing political atmosphere in the wake of the 1998 waves of ethnic cleansing by Serbian forces in Kosovo to change the topic of his Ditchley Foundation lecture to speak about intervention, sovereignty and responsibility (Bellamy 2009). Following this, in his 1999 Economist article Annan underlined that states were now widely understood as ‘instruments at the service of their peoples, and not vice versa’ (Annan 1999), thus redefining traditional state sovereignty. Inherent in this new understanding was the recognition of a new individual sovereignty, which was an expression of the world's ‘indivisible humanity’ that ultimately demanded a new approach to the question of intervention. Annan claimed that ‘just as we have learnt that the world cannot stand aside when gross and systematic violations of human rights are taking place, we have also learnt that, if it is to enjoy the sustained support of the world's peoples, intervention must be based on legitimate and universal principles’ (Annan 1999). The collective interest of people thus had to become national interest in order to uphold individual sovereignty. In 2000, the Secretary-General then challenged the international community to find answers to the question of how intervention should be addressed. The International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty took on this challenge and outlined a people-centred framework which advanced a strategy of ‘proactive cosmopolitanism’ (Taylor 1999), promoting ‘liberal peace’ (Chandler 2004; Newman, Richmond and Paris 2009).
The concept of a Responsibility to Protect, which the Commission outlined, sought to redefine and rephrase the question of humanitarian intervention, not just through different language but also by reconceptualising sovereignty. At the heart of this was a move from ‘sovereignty as control’ to ‘sovereignty as responsibility’, shifting the point of view from the interveners to those who were in need. In the Responsibility to Protect framework governments were seen as responsible for maintaining the functioning of safety and welfare institutions. If and when states would no longer be able or willing to maintain this function, the international community should step in to assist the population of the state. However, it was stressed that prime responsibility lay with the state – governments were accountable to their citizens and ultimately to the international community (ICISS 2001; see also Bellamy 2009 and Thakur 2005a). The Responsibility to Protect therefore allowed individual rights to trump state rights as the state was conceptualised as a moral agent by (p.137) matching the state's legal and political legitimacy with how well it upheld human rights and citizen welfare (Chandler 2004: 62). However, neither the violation of human rights nor the overthrow of democratic governments were included among potential intervention causes. Instead, stimuli for intervention included the collapse of states, mass starvation, civil war and natural or environmental disasters (ICISS 2001: 32–33). Accordingly, intervention was described broadly as a ‘continuum of intervention’, including a responsibility to prevent and to re-build (ICISS 2001: 67).
Although the idea of the Responsibility received mixed responses from member states (see Macfarlane et al. 2004), the Secretary-General was highly satisfied with the report and considered it meeting his challenge. Annan embraced the idea and supported an extension of the military dimension to human security (Thakur 2005b). For Annan the connection between intervention and democracy tightened. Although Annan, like his two predecessors, took great care to emphasise that ‘democracy cannot be imposed from outside’ (UNSG 11 September 2003, SG/SM/8860), he praised the Cotonou Declaration, which stated that ‘the growing international trend to condemn unconstitutional removals of Governments or attempts at outright subversion of democracy is a welcome development’ (Annan 1999). Moreover, in a 2001 report reviewing the Cotonou Declaration, the Secretary-General boldly stated that
The 2005 Summit then provided Secretary-General Annan further opportunity to emphasise the importance of the principles underlying the Responsibility to Protect and its relationship to ideas and practices used in the areas of human rights and development. Both A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility by the Secretary-General's High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change and the Secretary-General's own subsequent report In Larger Freedom: Towards Development, Security and Human Rights For All therefore emphasised the importance of state capacity, sovereignty and the UN's obligation to support weak states, helping them to perform the tasks of sovereignty effectively (UN 2004; UNSG 21 March 2005, A/59/2005). While the Secretary-General emphasised that sovereign states remain the building blocks of the international system, he also stated that they needed to ‘serve’ their people (UNSG 21 March 2005, A/59/2005, para. 19). Hence, sovereignty was defined in terms of the ability to meet new challenges and guarantee rights and freedoms. Strong states would thus be able to ensure freedom from want, freedom from fear and the freedom to live in dignity. Development could only take root where governments were representative and responsive to people's needs, where strong (p.138) institutions enable peaceful conflict management, where the rule of law prevails and governments could be held accountable (UNSG 21 March 2005, A/59/2005).
In my view, the benchmark for a sustainable democracy is the extent to which a State acts in accordance with universal and indivisible human rights: the civil and political rights, as well as the economic, social and cultural rights defined in international human rights law. I therefore consider the status of human rights to be an important barometer of a healthy democracy. The current state of international human rights law clearly shows that democracy is not only a universally recognized ideal and a goal, but also a fundamental right of citizens. (UNSG 23 October 2001, A/56/499, para. 27)
At the Summit member states recognised only genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity as falling under the list of potential triggers for action under the Responsibility to Protect. Thus, while many regarded the 2005 World Summit as a failure because agreement on a number of issues could not be reached, Secretary-General Kofi Annan emphasised that ‘historic gains’ had been made. The recognition of the Responsibility to Protect and the importance of the rule of law and human rights signified for Annan an ‘intellectual breakthrough’. He stressed that ‘any human rights agenda worth the name must have the promotion of democracy as a cornerstone of its endeavours’ (UNSG 12 October 2005, SG/SM/10161); and it was in his view the achievements in the area of human rights that had prevented the Summit from being a disappointment as ‘human life, human dignity [and] human rights [were] raised above even the entrenched concept of State sovereignty’ (UNSG 12 October 2005, SG/SM/10161). Thus, while the Responsibility to Protect might have galvanised the concept of the ‘new’ relationship between state and individuals in theory, in practice it would prove to be too radical to be accepted by member states. Irrespective of this, the Secretary-General continued to uphold a discourse centred on popular sovereignty and the Responsibility to Protect, while emphasising as more practical a broader notion of human security.
The concept of human security mirrored that of human development, promising an extension of the principles of people-centred politics into the third area of UN goals: peace. Overall, people-centred politics in the context of peace and security proved to be conceptually richer but also politically more divisive, as the Responsibility to Protect had shown. Thus, their promise could only be fulfilled in the abstract, that is, by promoting the general idea of democracy, citizenship and the people at the heart of politics. The concept of human security blended ideas of human development and peace to achieve a new focus on international and national security, enhancing further the importance of individual life. The concept of human security was described by the Charter's ideas ‘freedom from fear’ and ‘freedom from want’. Rather than view security purely in terms of state security, the concept of human security focussed on the individual as referent and allowed for a number of actors, state and non-state, to contribute to the achievement of security (McDonald 2002: 277–295, 279; Newman 2001). Defined as the absence of both direct and structural violence (Cockell 2001: 17), human security not only involved military and arms security issues but extended the sphere of security to governance and the political process, to societal and communal stability, as well as to human rights and questions of personal, economic and resource security.
According to Newman (2004), this high number of variables, that is, factors which could pose as a security threat, meant that the concept's potential for application remained ambiguous. Thus, while normatively attractive, human security was analytically weak. The sources of this analytical weakness were differences in approach and subject focus. Competing ideas of human security had emerged which pointed in different directions, referring to different UN practices, therefore undermining the meaningfulness of the concept of human security. These included a focus (p.139) on basic human needs and development, an ‘assertive/interventionist’ aspect focussed on the redefinition of sovereignty and collective action, a ‘new security’ approach which highlighted non-conventional security issues such as drugs, terrorism and cyber war, and a ‘social welfare/developmentalist’ focus which, although mirroring the basic needs focus, extended this to a form of human welfare that was equitable, participatory and distributive (Newman 2001). These differences in approach then were associated with different strategies of implementation. While the social welfare/developmentalist focus most closely resembled the framework of developmental democracy, it and the Basic Human Needs perspective expressed human security in terms of human development and good governance, and could be implemented by either development or post-conflict peace-building in practice. In this scenario, human security was ‘an active and substantive notion of democracy, one that ensures the opportunity for all to participate in the decisions that affect their lives. Therefore it is engaged directly with discussion of democracy at all levels, from the local to the global’ (Thomas 2001: 162). This positive security dimension obviously stood in contrast to negative security aspects, which are primarily expressed through the absence of war and conflict.5 In the assertive/interventionist and ‘new security’ approach, human security overlapped with a more traditional conflict prevention strategy in that development and democracy would help to overcome conflict.
In summary, the principles of democracy and democratic citizenship may have been recognised as an element in the achievement of the UN's key values of peace, development and human rights, yet reconceptualising the relationship between the people and the state in this vein was too big a step at this time. Despite this, recognising a (however limited) Responsibility to Protect and therefore the inherent value of citizens was an important first step. Further engagement with the human rights canon in all its dimensions would be needed to fully understand the opportunities and limitations of democratic citizenship as a concept to define UN practice (and the foundation of the state).
Coherent and connected or disjointed and accidental?
In the months following the publication of the Democracy in Latin America report UNDP held a number of workshops and seminars in Latin America and Europe where the report generally received positive responses. In an EU co-sponsored seminar in Brussels Elena Martinez, UNDP's Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, noted that ‘we have a great deal to learn from Europe in the quest for a citizens’ democracy. Learn from its commitment to the Rule of Law, from its social market economy, from its achievements in social cohesion and from its exemplary process of integration’ (Martinez 2005: 5, emphasis added). Thus, unwittingly perhaps, Martinez re-introduced ideas of an earlier World Bank document which had made similar references to the European model of substantive democracy. In its 1989 report on Sub-Saharan Africa and governance, the World Bank had outlined in a small illustration box the ‘Nordic model’ (p.140) as an example of successful governance (World Bank 1989). This idea had received little attention and was not referred to again in Bank publications. Although the World Bank presented this Nordic model in terms of market and labour regulation, excluding the social democratic provisions of the state, the idea of the European social model versus the Anglo-American market model of the Washington consensus did indeed embody distinct images.
Irrespective of its geographic or ideological association, the 2004 UNDP report on democracy in Latin America presented a new and different approach, providing a theoretical foundation for democracy and with it an explanation, or justification, as to why certain outcomes needed to be achieved. This vision of democracy was a substantive one that provided the rationale for a democratic society, a democracy that reached beyond the structures and processes of a particular kind of state to include a description of how the interaction between states and citizens was to be shaped. In fact, more than previous documents and reports, which merely insisted that the citizens were the source of authority, it drew attention to the fact that the state and citizens were not distinct. Previous reports did not deny this, yet never justified this connection between state and citizens. More importantly, they conceptualised the market as an overwhelming structural force (almost) beyond the reach of the state, a force to which people had to mould themselves, rather than the other way round. The Latin America report did away with this separation of the state, market and citizen by conceptualising the state and the market as subservient to the needs of citizens. Here then, democracy had substance – the foundations for a democratic society were provided.
The idea of a guiding state that is pro-active, regulating the market and providing for people to overcome the market's shortcomings, can be summarised as the ‘responsibility to care and protect’. Unsurprisingly, the semantic similarities to the ICISS’ Responsibility to Protect are not coincidental. Both place the individual and the people at the heart of their concern and redefine the national and international response to the needs and well-being of the people. Here, the ‘responsibility to care’ stresses the state's obligation to ensure development for the state as a whole and to consider the benefits for all citizens, especially for the disadvantaged. It does so without necessarily aiming at a process that seeks to equalise society economically, as Marx stressed. Instead, it recognises any type of social and political arrangement, policy approach or governance model so long as the extremes of social and market arrangements can be avoided and opportunities for all provided.
The idea of citizenship thus made explicit the special role that democracy plays in enhancing people's lives and the place it affords them in the state. Democracy may have raised the importance of the people, yet it is citizenship which adds a formal and foundational dimension to the idea of ‘people's rule’. Citizens are the state and by their very nature as citizens they have the right to participate in the affairs of the state through democratic processes. Democracy is thus an inalienable human right. In a foundational perspective of citizenship, the state is responsible to – and for – the people, a relationship that is best highlighted by international law. In international law both state and government are objects of separate forms of recognition. Whereas the state refers to a self-governing (independent) political community, government (p.141) is defined as the political apparatus that upholds this status of independence externally while exercising a monopoly of force and control internally.6 The classic definition of statehood (a permanent population, a defined territory, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other states) shows that government is part of the state yet conceptually distinct: ‘although a state is a political community whose existence is tied to existing, remembered, or foreseen patterns of governance within it, its existence is conceptually independent of and precedent to that of the particular government that purports to rule it. The government does not define the state any more than the tail wags the dog’ (Roth 2000: 132, emphasis as in original). Consequently, re-instating the people as the state, reconceptualising it as a collective of citizens and redefining government as the group of people authorised to exercise political control on behalf of citizens, creates more than a semantic change. It means that society (i.e. the collective of citizens) equals the state. This highlights the role of government as the ‘caretaker’ of the physical reality of the state, including its territory and its citizens. In turn, it adds a qualitative aspect of rule that may question the performance of government.
To what extent has the UN conceptualised, promoted or supported this type of democracy? Developmental democracy exists in pockets of UN ideas and practice as the UN has clearly addressed the five criteria of developmental democracy in its activities and thinking. The UN has sought to develop both markets and people, increasingly recognising that an over-emphasis of the former over the latter does not lead to best results. Following a general emphasis on the people as both an expression of the fundamental principle of democracy and people-centred politics, the UN continued to promote and support democratisation processes in all areas and all levels of state activity, including the support of non-state actors. It also promoted and supported the ideals, structures and processes of participation on various levels. The UN may have recognised the idea of citizenship, yet focussed on its procedural expression as participation, not on its foundational dimension, which the Latin America report highlighted. While this fifth criterion remained a particular weakness in the achievement of developmental democracy, the lack of an overall theory, or vision of developmental democracy (or other forms of substantive democracy) meant that the different pockets of developmental democracy remained just that: disjointed ideas and practices, related more by accident than intent. This disjointed nature of the idea (and practice) of developmental democracy was further highlighted and re-inforced by operational limitations.
The democracy agenda had been driven thus far successfully by operational objectives, allowing Secretary-General Annan to complete the triangle of the ‘inextricably linked’ concepts of peace, democracy and development by bringing together what had been previously connected only in logic but disjointed in practice. Yet Kofi Annan highlighted in his report In Larger Freedom that although the UN does more than any other international organisation in the field of democracy assistance, ‘the impact of [its] work is reduced by the way we disperse it among different parts of the bureaucracy’ (UNSG 21 March 2005, A/59/2005, para. 151). Indeed, as missions or projects are prepared and deployed, organisational boundaries that may have become blurred in the development of ideas sharpen again in (p.142) practice. Each organisational unit remains concerned with projects relating to its respective organisational focus and role. Despite attempts to reduce overlaps or contradictory policy orientation through programmes rather than projects, and despite increased interorganisational co-operation7, UN agencies remain decentralised and independent. This means that not only are UN staff often reluctant to co-operate across organisational boundaries, different understandings of a situation and different task management styles influence the general approach to and success of a mission or project8, which has been repeatedly stressed as a factor for diminished mission or project success. The process of joining up ideas and practices thus may have helped to create a democracy agenda, increasingly moving it towards the middle of the democratic continuum, yet the same operational (i.e. practice) dimension also limited the democracy agenda conceptually and with it practically. As a result substantive UN democracy remains an idea, its potential obvious but its actualisation set well into a more distant future.
(1) For example, the report found that although Democrats constituted the largest group of respondents, they did not form a majority. Democrats agreed with Ambivalents on the importance and value of democratic institutions, yet those ambivalent about democracy shared the Non-democrats’ view on delegative practices. Both Ambivalents and Non-Democrats believed that in times of crisis presidential powers may be appropriated to solve problems more effectively. The distance in orientation between these three groups was roughly similar, leading the researchers to conclude that Ambivalents had to be further convinced of the value of the democratic system in order to increase the stability of democracy in Latin America (UNDP 2004a: 131–148).
(2) Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela.
(3) Since the 1993 Vienna World Conference on Human Rights, democracy had been subsumed by the human rights community under the right to development. Now, with the human-rights-based approach to be applied in development practice, the re-inforcement of the ‘right to democracy’ by member states brought about a further justification for democracy support by UN agencies, adding a new normative perspective to the democracy agenda (Dumitriu 2003). As the Commission on Human Rights confirmed the existence of a right to democracy and outlined correlating aspects of the right to democratic governance (UNHCHR, 27 April 1999, Res. 1999/57), it firmly entrenched democracy in the human rights canon and UN practice.
(4) The question of whether this was the case was raised by the Overseas Development Institute (Manzo 2003: 447). Martinussen (1996) indeed identified this two-pronged approach as a central strategy of the human development approach, using the idea of ‘reaching up’ and ‘reaching down’ to emphasise the literal meeting of the state and its citizens.
(p.143) (5) Unsurprisingly, the roots of the concept were found in very different documents and events. Focussing on the positive security aspect of human security, the 1994 Human Development Report, which was written in preparation for the 1995 World Summit for Social Development, was often seen as the source of the concept of human security. Yet, McCormack argued that a shift towards human security had been evident as early as 1991 when the Security Council passed Resolution 688 on Iraq stating that the treatment of the Iraqi population by its government constituted a threat to international peace and security. With this resolution the Security Council suggested that internal instability was an international concern and that state sovereignty was not absolute but dependent on the state's performance in ensuring human security (McCormack 2005: 4).
(6) Thus, while the state of Afghanistan may be regarded as legitimate, the Taliban government may not be. The result may be an uncontested territory, but also an empty seat in the UN or attempts to discredit (or remove) the government regarded as illegitimate. As Griffin emphasised, unlike in Haiti, Sierra Leone and Cambodia, it was not the Taliban's overthrow of a democratically elected government that led them to be denied UN accreditation, but ‘the unwillingness of the UN to reward seizures of power through civil wars, the attempt to use the credentials process as means to promote democratic resolutions to domestic conflicts, and the condemnation of systematic violations of human rights’ (Griffin 2000: 758).
(7) For example, to increase interorganisational co-operation and to better utilise knowledge and resources the UNDP resident coordinator was appointed directly to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in post-conflict situations such as Haiti, Tajikistan and Sierra Leone (Griffin 2003).
(8) Mohan Das (2005) describes problems involved in interdepartmental communication and difference in work styles. Contrary to established practice, the Department of Peace-Keeping Operations (DPKO) instead of the Department of Political Affairs (DPA) assumed prime responsibility in East Timor. Unfamiliar with the task of governance and more attuned to short-term, military-style missions, DPKO was less able to connect with the local population and tried to impose solutions. Moreover, DPKO rejected an offer by DPA for joint mission planning, ignoring the suggestion. ‘Rivalries’ such as these may undermine the flow of ideas and practices such as the democracy agenda. Similarly, Chesterman criticises the UN's lack of a central institutional capacity for transitional administration, noting, for example, that each operation had developed idiosyncratic mission structures (Chesterman 2005). As transfer of capacities does not happen, experience, knowledge and with it an understanding of a vision or goal gets lost, potentially undermining the vision of democracy.