Post Conflict Democratization. The Role of External Actors in Rebuilding Legitimacy and the Example of Afghanistan

Master's Thesis, 2020

137 Pages, Grade: 110/110 cum laude





1. Understanding democratic transitions: theories and features
1.1 Introduction
1.1.2 The economic roots of transitions
1.1.3 International factors
1.2 War-torn countries: how to democratize?
1.2.1 A general framework
1.2.2 Understanding contemporary conflicts
1.3 Post conflict challenges
1.3.1 The ‘stateness’ issue
1.3.2 Order and security
1.3.3 Political transition
1.3.4 A focus on civil conflicts: when the nation fails

2. Understanding the context
2.1 Historical framework and main actors
2.2 Alternative strategies
2.3 External-led democratization of post conflict settings
2.3.1 Overview of the literature
2.4 External democracy-building strategies
2.4.1 Facing the ‘stateness’ issue
2.4.2 Reestablish order
2.4.3 Enable the political transition
2.4.4 Strategies to address social issues
2.4.5 First conclusions

3.1 Understanding legitimacy
3.1.2 Democratic legitimacy
3.2 Legitimacy in post conflict states
3.3 Transitional governments
3.3.2 Evaluating interim governments
3.3.3 Final thoughts
3.4 Constitution-building
3.5 Elections
3.5.2 Electoral administration after a conflict
3.5.3 Assessing elections: issues at stake
3.6 Concluding remarks

4.1 Expectations versus reality?
4.2 Historical framework
4.2.1 First developments and the establishment of the Taliban regime
4.2.2 From 9/11 onwards
4.3 Towards democratization: transitional government
4.3.1 The Bonn Agreement
4.3.2 Restoring security: ISAF
4.3.3 Interim Administration and Transitional Authority
4.4 Constitution building
4.4.1 The Constitutional Loya Jirga
4.4.2 The Afghan Constitution
4.5 Post conflict elections
4.5.1 Analysis of the framework
4.5.2 Presidential elections
4.5.3 Parliamentary elections
4.6 Assessing the external actors’ role in democratizing Afghanistan
4.6.1 Intervening in the transitional phase: impact of the Bonn Agreement and UNAMA
4.6.2 A focus on ISAF
4.6.3 External inputs in constitution-building
4.6.3 Afghan elections
4.7 2005-2019: assessing the prospects for democracy in the post transitional phase
4.8 Concluding remarks




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Democratization processes have through time increasingly attracted the attention of scholars and practitioners, due to the growing number of democracies that have emerged worldwide starting especially after the end of the Cold War. In this regard, various theories have been advanced to understand and evaluate these processes, specifically their drivers and the challenges related to them. One case of particular relevance nowadays is the one of countries who make their transition to democracy after a conflict. These cases clearly differ from the ones in which states proceed towards transition from a situation of peace. Due to the peculiarities linked to these scenarios, this thesis will be dedicated to post conflict democratization processes, and the focus will be made on the role that external actors play therein. Indeed, international players have increasingly assumed leadership in driving and assisting democratization attempts in countries in the aftermath of a conflict. However, the outcomes of their intervention have actually been mixed, and in a significant number of cases they failed in achieving the desired goals. One specific issue seems problematic while intervening in a post conflict context, that is restoring legitimacy. For this reason, this research will focus on the role external actors can play in rebuilding legitimacy in a country shattered by war, on the challenges these players must face in this domain and on evaluating the impact these actors have in post conflict settings.

Consequently, this thesis is organized in four chapters. After having provided a theoretical framework on democratization processes and their occurrence in post conflict settings in the first two sections, I will analyze the main challenges external actors face when they intervene in these environments in order to rebuild legitimacy and support the transition towards a democratic political system. Legitimacy will be treated as a key challenge to be faced, and it will be considered as the founding basis for the whole post conflict political setting. Finally, in the last chapter, based on the findings of the analysis carried out, a hypothesis will be introduced in order to illustrate why external-led democracy building in the aftermath of a conflict produces instability and often fails in achieving the desired outcomes in terms of democratization and legitimacy-building, and it will be considered in light of one specific case study, namely Afghanistan after the US-led intervention in 2001. Thus, chapter IV will be an attempt to analyze the impact of external actors in rebuilding post conflict legitimacy by considering the Afghan transition after the fall of the Taliban regime, and it will aim at trying to provide an empirical ground for the hypothesis advanced. Finally, based on the overall findings of this research, conclusions will be drawn.


Democratization: a theoretical framework

1. Understanding democratic transitions: theories and features

1.1 Introduction

During the last decades, the attention of scholars in the field of political science and comparative politics has focused on analyzing transitions from authoritarian rule towards more democratic regimes, in order to understand how democratization processes work, which paths they may follow and what conditions make them possible. This growing attention towards the domain of democratization is certainly due to the increasing number of democracies that have emerged worldwide especially starting from the 1970s, reaching as Morlino notices, in 2015 the total number of democracies was 89.1 Indeed, in the period between 1974 and 1990, as Samuel Huntington outlined, 30 countries made their transition to a democratic system. This is due to what he defines as ‘third wave of democratization’, a period in which countries worldwide made, or at least attempted, their transition from authoritarian regimes to democracies. This wave was not the only one in history. Apart from this one, he identifies two more that took place previously: the first, which began in 1820s and lasted until 1926, through the widening of the electorate to a larger amount of male population in the United States; and the second, that started with the end of the Second World War and continued until 1962, as a result of the first glimpses of the decolonization process.2 Both waves were followed by what he defines as reverse waves, during which the overall number of democracies decreased. Needed to say, Huntington treats democratization as a combination of different causes, and thus it’s not possible to explain it as the result of one single factor. In fact, democratization is a process that doesn’t follow one unique pattern, but rather it may take different time and features depending on the country that embarks in such transition. Thus, there’s a solid consensus on the fact that democratization is a multidimensional process that touches various different domains.

From a general point of view, we can distinguish between four main phases that a political system experiences whenever it proceeds towards transitioning to democracy. The first phase sees the opposition of citizens vis-à-vis the political elite, and this confrontation consists in more and stronger demands for liberties by the population. This phase is followed by a second one, which consists in the emergence of a new political arrangement, as the old one doesn’t work anymore due to the requests made by citizens. The third step, when liberty is finally granted by the elite that is not able to oppose to the demands of the citizens anymore, sees the political attention shifting towards how to achieve further rights and liberties, thus on how to deepen the democratic character of the system that has been achieved. The final phase is the one of consolidation, through which everything that has been achieved until that moment gets further institutionalized and embedded in the system.3 Apart from identifying these four steps that political systems go through while transitioning away from authoritarianism, scholars have during relatively recent times advanced several explanations to the phenomenon of democratization. Indeed, the field of research is nowadays highly varied. First, as just affirmed, democratization is a multidimensional process that takes into account several aspects of a political system. Second, while trying to understand which are the drivers of transition, we should keep in mind that it’s extremely hard to provide a unique explanation to democratic transition, because such cases do vary depending on various factors, including for instance the region where the transition takes place.4 Among the factors that must be considered while analyzing these political processes, we can find as crucial elements the following ones: the features of the previous authoritarian regime, the space and strength of the civil society, the popular demand of democratic reforms, and thus the political tradition of the country considered.5 Despite the complexity of the phenomenon, there are generally two recurring elements that we find in literature nowadays as drivers of transitions in democratization paths, and that are important to discuss for the purpose of the analysis carried out in this research, namely the role of economic development, and the impact of the international environment.

This paragraph doesn’t have the ambition of providing for a detailed and comprehensive analysis of the academic field surrounding this area of research, but instead the purpose is to describe a general framework and to underline the main elements that contributed to the development of the theoretical thought surrounding democratization. Doing so creates the foundations for understanding the core theme of this research, namely the framework in which post conflict transitions take place, and in which external actors intervene.

1.1.2 The economic roots of transitions

One first perspective on what causes democratization present in literature concerns the role of economic development as agent of transition. It is one of the most often cited theories of democratization, and probably the most debated one. In general, when we discuss economic development as root of a political transition towards democracy, we are talking about the so-called ‘modernization theory’, which was first advanced by Seymour Martin Lipset in 1959. In the article “Some social requisites of democracy”, the American scholar argued that there’s a direct relationship between economic development and democracy, thus giving birth to what is generally known as endogenous explanation of political transitions. More specifically, economic modernization creates the conditions, or requisites, for the emergence of a democratic system. The basic idea is that, as a country develops, a series of social changes occur within the society, that favor the transition from authoritarian rule to democracy, specifically through the emergence of new groups, the growth of civil society, in a way that deprives the previous system of that environment that made it possible to make it run through command. Thus, the better a nation does in terms of economy, the higher the possibilities that it will be a democracy.6 The values taken into consideration to count for economic development compromise industrialization, wealth, urbanization and education, among others. Therefore, democratization is the final stage of a longer and more complex process.7

The theory proposed by Lipset has given rise to a debated body of literature regarding the role of economic development in pushing transitions to democracy. Needed to say, there’s a branch of academia that doesn’t align with the assumptions related to Lipset’s thought. It’s worth mentioning that Adam Przeworski and Fernando Limongi, in 1997, after having examined all the assumptions of the modernization theory, proposed something different. According to these authors, democratization is not endogenous, but rather exogenous, that is to say that a democratic system is not the product of modernization, however it surely has greater possibilities to survive if a country is modern, in terms of wealth, than the probability that it has to survive in poorer countries.8 As a consequence, it’s possible to affirm that this field of research is not unitary, and there’s no consensus on the actual role of economic development as the driver of political transitions. Nonetheless, the importance of the economic explanation of political transitions is still widely recognized nowadays.

1.1.3 International factors

Through time, in relation to other theories of democratization, less attention has been paid to the interaction between political transitions and international factors. However, interesting is to notice that Samuel Huntington, in 1991, already underlined the importance of external forces in enabling the third wave of democratization to occur. Specifically, he pointed out the role played by the European Community as a democratizing force for Eastern and Southern Europe, using instances such as Spain and Greece, where transitioning towards democracy was crucial in order to secure all the economic benefits related to EC membership.9 Through time, further research on this field has been carried out, as the interaction between domestic and international factors became more apparent and it increasingly attracted the interests of scholars. I will focus on two main paths that can be followed while discussing the impact of the external context in the field of democratization. The first one, which is the view proposed by Steven Levitsky and Lucan A. Way, focuses on the role of the different ties of the countries considered to the West in explaining the divergent outcomes of external pressure for democratization after the end of the Cold War. The second one focuses mainly on the role played by international organizations in creating the right and the most favorable conditions for transition, and has been elaborated by an American scholar, John C. Pevehouse.

Levitsky and Way note how during the 1990s there were countries in which competitive elections existed, but still violations of democratic practices and principles were the norm, so that those regimes could fit the category that they defined as ‘competitive authoritarian’. Basically, in those systems democratic institutions exist, but the political playing-field is organized in favor of the incumbents.10 How do we explain the different outcomes obtained by countries ruled by authoritarian rulers trying to make their transition towards democracy during that period? According to the authors, the paths that those regimes followed after the end of the Cold War were influenced by the relations they had with the Western world. In order to explain this, they divide the international environment according to two dimensions, that raised the costs of authoritarianism during the post-Cold War phase: first, the Western leverage, which represents the vulnerability of authoritarian governments to external pressures; and second, the linkage to the West, which depends on the density of the ties between the country taken into consideration and the Western world.11 Thus, where Western countries exerted enough leverage, international pressure played an important role in ending or eroding authoritarian rule. Generally, they notice that the areas where leverage is substantial are Central Europe, Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean. However, Western leverage over competitive authoritarian systems is generally not sufficient to convince these regimes to democratize. Concerning linkage, as already mentioned, it depends on the density of the ties with the West, examined by the authors through different dimensions, such as the geopolitical and the social linkages. Linkage, as leverage, raises the costs of authoritarianism by increasing the probability of an international response to such regimes, and by reshaping the domestic balance of power.12 The possible variations in linkage and leverage help explaining the different paths followed by competitive authoritarian regimes after the end of the Cold War. In fact, where linkage was extensive, the costs of maintaining an authoritarian system were made so high that the government found it prohibitive to maintain it. On the contrary, where linkage and leverage were low, the international environment was more permissive, and thus it was not able to act as a driver of political transformation.13

On the other hand, Pevehouse focuses on the link between international organizations and democratization processes, something that is absolutely actual in recent times, with the growing number of international organization and their increasing importance. The body of literature concerning this field, he notices, is not so widely developed, and it lacks empirical studies that can link the two phenomena. However, he finds that there are several possible causal mechanisms that can explain the existing influence of international organizations on political transitions, among which he defines the following: first, the pressures exerted by such organizations that can push authoritarian regimes to liberalize, and thus enable the transition towards democracy; second, being a member of IOs can bring about the acceptance of liberalization by some elites, as IOs create guarantees to those groups on their fears of democracy.14 In his analysis, two main groups can be involved in these mechanisms, which are business elites, who are concerned with the potential economic disadvantages that are associated with a regime change, and the military, which fears that its autonomy and its own interests would be damaged by a democratic transition.15 After introducing this theoretical framework, Pevehouse elaborates his central thesis, whose core is that organizations that have a higher density, where density refers to the number of member States which are already democracies, are more likely to be associated with democratic transitions.16 International organizations thus play a crucial role in creating the most favorable conditions for a country to democratize, because they can influence the domestic processes through a series of causal mechanisms.

1.2 War-torn countries: how to democratize?

1.2.1 A general framework

As already argued in the previous paragraph, democratization is not a universal and unique process, but it actually varies depending on various factors, both internal and external, that can impact the political transition, producing diverging results. Starting from the 1990s, one case that has attracted particular attention in the field of democratization is the one that concerns countries that experience warfare, and that attempt their transition in such environment. The reason for such attention lies in the fact that these countries do present a series of specific characteristics that make their potential transition towards democracy different from the paths that can be followed by countries that begin or attempt their political transition from a situation of peace. Moreover, this attention is also due to the growing field of research concerning the so called ‘failed’ or ‘fragile’ states, which seem to be highly diffuse in contemporary international system, and to the frequent resort to the use of the concept for political and strategic interests. With regard to the existing literature on democratic transitions in the aftermath of a conflict, there’s no universal agreement on the outcome of these political processes. On the one hand, some scholars argue that the establishment of a democratic system is possible in post war settings, using the cases of Japan or Germany after the end of the Second World War, or Namibia after the end of the Cold War, as evidence to support their thesis. On the other hand, other scholars believe that, due to the problems that affect countries trying to emerge from warfare, the establishment of democracy in the aftermath of a conflict is extremely difficult to achieve, and that the post war political system won’t possess the necessary features to define it democratic, at least not in the short term. Needed to say, late experiences of such phenomena don’t seem to show much optimism concerning the actual chances a political system shattered by war has to restore or establish a democracy.

One question can be raised at this point: why is the transition towards democracy in post conflict countries so difficult to achieve? What are the specific challenges that are met? In order to try to answer to these questions, I will first briefly conceptualize the main features of contemporary warfare, using data to analyze the conflicts that afflict the international system nowadays. Secondly, I will attempt to carry out an analysis of the main challenges that are met in post conflict countries in relation to democracy, with the aim of identifying the most crucial issues that must be addressed in these settings, which will be fundamental in the next chapter and for the purpose of this research.

1.2.2 Understanding contemporary conflicts

Before analyzing the political transitions towards democracy in post conflict environments, and subsequently the role that international actors play in it, few introductory remarks should be made in relation to the characterization of the conflicts that affect the international system nowadays. In order to fully understand contemporary conflicts, one interesting source of information comes from the Uppsala Conflict Data Program, which collects and elaborates data concerning organized violence worldwide. Some preliminary distinctions need to be done in order to understand the latest data that have been collected. First of all, with the term ‘organized violence’ three dimensions are taken into consideration:

1. State-based armed conflicts, which are characterized by an armed struggle where at least one of the parties involved is the government of a state;17
2. Non-state conflicts, where armed violence concerns two organized groups, none of them is a government;
3. One-sided violence, which includes violence that is perpetrated by a government or by a formally organized group, that targets civilians.18

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Figure 1: Armed conflicts by type, 1946-2017.

Considering the conflicts that took place after the end of the Second World War, the data represented in Figure 1 compromise the number of conflicts that have been registered in the period between 1946 and 2017, and it distinguishes them by conflict type. By analyzing this graph, the first thing that can be noticed is that, through time, there has been a visible decrease in the occurrence of interstate wars worldwide, interpreted as wars between two or more States. However, this decline is accompanied by a significant increase in the occurrence of intrastate conflicts, thus occurring within a state, which reached the highest peak throughout the period considered during the 1990s, years that witnessed the occurrence of conflicts based on ethnic or national cleavages as it happened in Rwanda or in former Yugoslavia.

More data can be mentioned to analyze the features of current warfare. Regarding state-based conflicts, in 2017 the UCDP recorded 49 active conflicts, of which only 1 can be categorized as interstate, that involved namely India and Pakistan.19 Regarding non-state conflicts, the record is impressive: 670 in the period 1989-2017, with an increase during this last year, when 82 conflicts took place. Interesting is also the geographical distribution of organized violence, which shows that the majority of conflicts, specifically 50, took place in the African continent, also due to the high rate of violence that has been registered in the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo, while the rest of them occurred in the Middle East, in Asia, specifically Afghanistan, and in the Americas.20 Finally, the last dimension, which covers one-sided violence, is particularly interesting, as it shows that, since 1989, 266 actors of various kinds engaged in such violence. The latest example of this type of violence is the one perpetrated against the Muslim Rohingyas in Myanmar.21 These data show how pervasive organized violence is in the international system, and especially how diffused are internal conflicts, which still represent a serious security threat for the international community.

Concerning the literature that regards contemporary conflicts, there’s a growing branch that sees contemporary conflicts as radically different in its nature and practices from the previous ones, and it defines it with the label of ‘new wars’. Mary Kaldor is one of the main scholars who has prompted the new war thesis. Specifically, she has built a theoretical analysis on contemporary conflicts, starting from the end of the Second World War and growing consistently during the 1990s, and what she has found is that the conflicts that took place during that time are different from old forms of armed struggle. Such distinction is explained, in her view, thanks to the characteristics that international violence has been showing during the last decades, specifically in relation to four dimensions: the actors that are involved in the conflict; the methods used to fight; the goals that the actors aim to achieve through it; and finally, the way through which the conflict is financed.22 The core idea is that, while old conflicts were fought for ideological or geopolitical interests, and they mainly consisted in great battles fought on the ground between regular armies, current warfare is, on the contrary, characterized by a struggle between various state and non-state actors, which fight in the name of their identity, and don’t involve the same amount of destructiveness that old conflicts involved.23 New wars are thus characterized by a mixture of war, intended as organized political violence, human rights violations and crime.24 It must be noted however that there’s no consensus on the actual transformation of warfare through time, thus this view is not immune to critics. Nevertheless, whatever the nature of contemporary warfare, conflicts that affect our world today do present a series of obstacles in terms of possibilities of political transformation towards democracy.

1.3 Post conflict challenges

1.3.1 The ‘stateness’ issue

Even if there’s no unique consensus on the matter, warfare nowadays seems to be different from previous forms of it, specifically if we look at the data just described. Indeed, if until the end of the Cold War the international environment was characterized mainly by interstate or internationalized wars, today this pattern is different, as we can see that internal conflicts do affect more our world than they did in the past in relation to conflicts between states. In any case, warfare still shapes our world and it has an impact on peace worldwide. The recurrence of wars today represents a security threat for the international community. Hence the importance of understanding what are the challenges and obstacles that countries just exiting a conflict do face on their way to peace and democratization. Indeed, if we think at the core of what democracy is, and what characteristics it should mirror, it’s immediate to understand why post conflict countries experience a variety of obstacles on their way to democratization. Even if we know that democracy is not unique, and it might possess different features, there are fundamental elements that a political system should present in order to be defined as a democracy. The existence of a series of challenges that countries in the aftermath of a conflict meet on their way to democracy is strictly related to the fact that, as it’s widely recognized, a political system must possess some characteristics in order to be defined as such. Even if there’s no universal agreement on one unique definition of a democratic system, agreement on at least some basic features through time has been reached. Needed to say, definitions of what democracy is may range from the minimalist ones, such as the one proposed by Schumpeter, who defines it as “the democratic method is that institutional arrangement for arriving at political decisions which individuals acquire the power to decide by means of a competitive struggle for the people’s vote”,25 to broader ones, considering for instance Robert Dahl’s view, who points out seven institutions that must be present in a system to refer to it as democratic, among which he recalls elections, representation and freedom of expression.26 Despite this varied field, one crucial issue emerges as common in modern democracies: the existence of a state. Although the political thought surrounding the phenomenon started to evolve in Ancient Greece, and it referred to the city-state, through time the concept started to be more and more related to the presence of a state, as Larry Diamonds clearly underlines by stating that a country, before being democratic, must have a state.27 Thus, few remarks should be made in regard to what we mean by using the term state. Max Weber is certainly the most prominent scholar who advanced a theory of the state that we still refer to today. In fact, in his “Politics as a vocation” he defines the state as a “human community that successfully claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory”.28 His definition is particularly important because it includes all the elements that we consider as intrinsic for a state nowadays: it is an entity formed by citizens; it is the only authority which has the right to use force, which must still be legitimate; and finally, the existence of a state implies the presence of a territory.

States that experience a conflict thus face one first obstacle on their way to democracy, that can be defined as ‘stateness’ issue, meaning that these countries might have a state which, due to the war, is incapable of ruling effectively, or even a state which is not functioning at all anymore. Clearly, if a state has collapsed, if it lacks the capability necessary to deliver goods and services to its citizens, if it doesn’t possess the necessary political and social institutions, there’s no chance that a democratic system can be established and sustained. Moreover, some authors also point out the fact that these systems often become based on paternalistic networks, on clientelism, and they are afflicted by corruption.29 Therefore, the reconstruction of the whole state structure is fundamental, in order to make sure that it will be able to perform all its functions.30 The state is, and must be, the core of any democratization process: indeed, if the state apparatus is incapable of performing its functions, the most basic prerequisite for democratization simply disappears.31 Needed to say, the terms ‘collapsed’ or ‘failed’ states are widely used today in literature to refer to different types political crises. They might refer to the fact that the state has lost the capacity to rule on its territory, or that it loses its presence on a portion of it. Therefore, this phenomenon might actually vary in degree and severity depending on the local context. Thus, it’s clear that these phenomena are quite pervasive of the international system.32 One of the clearest examples of state collapse, and of the difficulties that states who experience this issue meet while trying to emerge from warfare, is certainly Somalia, a country that hasn’t known genuine peace in decades. In the country, there has been no functioning central state since 1991.33 The degree of warfare in Somalia has varied through time, starting from the first years of conflict when it could be surely deemed as civil war.34 Since then, all the efforts carried out to restore a functional central government failed, and the country is thus still highly unstable. No real prospect towards democracy can be made in the current situation in which the country finds itself.

1.3.2 Order and security

As it is well known, a minimum level of security is one of the most basic requirements for the existence of a functioning democracy. Moreover, as it was just mentioned, for a democracy to exist the state must possess the monopoly of the use of violence, something that generally lacks in a country that experiences warfare, especially internally. “Whatever the specific form of the post-conflict effort to build democracy, one thing must be stressed above all others: no order, no democracy”.35 With these words Diamond states that one of the most urgent issues which should be tackled in these contexts is specifically security, which must be treated as a prerequisite for the establishment of a democratic system. As it is easily understandable, countries trying to emerge from conflict lack this order, due to the armed struggle that has been ongoing on their territories. Thus, this second issue surely regards the challenges related to the reestablishment of a minimum level of security, and it is generally the priority of external actors who intervene in a country that has witnessed a conflict.36 Needed to say, the understanding of this concept has evolved through time to assume a broader meaning. If during the Cold War security was largely intended in military terms, and it was related to the national territory of a state, after 1989,the understanding of the concept widened to include other concerns, such as political and economic ones, also due to the growing new security threats interlinked with the features of the post-Cold War international system. Specifically, the proliferation of internal wars, and the central role that individuals assumed in relation to the state, have been two driving forces in the widening understanding of security issues. In fact, today security has evolved to have as object not only States, but individuals and groups too, as it is shown by the affirmation of the notion of ‘human security’.

Following this reasoning, war-torn countries suffer from what Charles Call defines as ‘security gap’, due to the specific features that are associated with a country that is in the middle of a conflict, or that is trying to emerge from it. Namely, in these contexts, states are unable to guarantee minimum levels of security and order. This loss is accompanied by other features, still related to security: the infrastructures are destroyed or seriously damaged; there’s a widespread sense of mistrust, and the factions that confronted each other during the conflict need to be disarmed, demobilized and reintegrated into society in order to avoid a new outbreak of violence, which would rend null the efforts undertaken towards democratization.37 Examples of countries that have experienced this gap include, in his analysis, Liberia and Iraq. Clearly, Afghanistan fits this category too. Without this minimum level of security, the whole process towards stability will be highly uncertain. Nevertheless, facing security issues is a necessary but not sufficient condition to enable the transition towards democracy. In fact, there’s a common view that sees the lack of security, or the incapability of restoring it, the main explanation of why post war settings fail to transform into democracies. Indeed, order is, as already affirmed, an essential element for this purpose. However, it can’t be treated as only reason to blame for the failure to transitioning, and not even as the field in which the majority of the efforts should be directed. As I will try to prove in the next paragraphs, there are other aspects of the post war states that make the democratic transition extremely difficult, and they can help explaining the difficulties that are met in these settings in terms of democratic development.

1.3.3 Political transition

Contemporary cases of countries emerging from warfare show that the difficulties met on their transition concern not only rebuilding the state apparatus, but also other aspects related that regard more strictly the political sphere. Surely, another challenging aspect that needs to be held in mind while discussing of post war democratization, is the political transition of the system, which must address a series of domains that make the political system democratic Indeed, we could affirm that restoring governance and effective political representation is one of the most important aspects, and that it compromises all the critical fields that seem to represent an obstacle on the path to political transformation. Experiences of countries that have attempted to make their transition to democracy starting from this environment show that this field of action is particularly difficult to achieve. Why is the post war political transition so challenging? Clearly, this aspect of the transition does create effective governance, and it allows popular participation and representation within the political system, features that are crucial parts of a democracy.38 But still, what does it mean in practice? Certainly, the political system in countries in the aftermath of an armed conflict is biased, and some of the most important democratic principles are seriously at stake. First of all, in most cases there’re no genuine elections, and as a consequence no multiparty system. This element already explains by itself one of the main issues at stake concerning the restore of democratic political authority. Consequently, elections are a core issue to be faced here, as they are a guarantee that the political process is genuine, and that it really represents the will of the citizens. Moreover, the existence of such framework allows for a valuable participation of the population to the political process, fundamental in all modern democracies. The topic of elections will be analyzed in detail in the third chapter, therefore more space will be given here to the one of parties. In fact, there’s generally a growing consensus that addressing not only elections but the whole party system is fundamental to support peace and democracy, as political parties are an essential element of a democratic system, and can’t be neglected.39 As it is well known, a genuine competitive multiparty system is needed in a country in order to consider the political system existing there as democratic. As Reilly notices, political parties do perform functions that are essential in democracy, because they represent interests, they set policymaking programs and aggregate individuals into the democratic process.40 In the aftermath of a conflict, parties, if existing, struggle to perform the just mentioned roles. Especially in conflicts which turned around ethnic or national cleavages, creating the foundations for a genuine competition seems to be extremely difficult, as the case of the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia show. Specifically, Bosnia-Herzegovina is a useful case to show the problems related to the transition to democracy from war. The country was involved in the Yugoslav conflicts in 1992, after Slovenia and Croatia. The ethnic composition of the country’s population was one of the fuels of the bloodiness of the conflict. In fact, around the 40% were Bosnian Muslims, 33% Bosnian Serbs and around 17% Bosnian Croats. In 1992, the country declared its independence, which was opposed by the Bosnian Serbs living on the territory. At the same time, the Croats got into the fight too, declaring their own republic supported by Croatia. An end to the conflict was achieved in 1995, with the Dayton Agreement.41 This agreement was successful in ending the conflict on the ground, however the story is fairly different regarding the system designed to support the transition. In fact, such system was not able to erase the etho-national polarization present in the country, but instead it fueled further divisions and separatist sentiments. Specifically, the way parties and elections were treated represents a failure in dealing with some of the essential aspects of democratic development. Indeed, the three Bosnian parties that were born after the end of the communist era and that were active players during the conflict,42 remained extremely dominant even in the post war state, also due to the way elections were organized and carried out, which confirmed the nationalist leaders who fought the war and were confirmed during the first elections.43

A second crucial issue that is at stake in these contexts is the establishment of rule of law, which is strictly related to the accountability of the system as a whole, and crucial to recreate the foundations for citizens to trust their political authorities. If we look at one possible definition of it, the reason for such importance it’s easily understandable, as it can be defined as: “state of affairs in which the state successfully monopolizes the means of violence, and in which most people, most of the time, choose to resolve disputes in a manner consistent with procedurally fair, neutral, and universally applicable rules, and in a manner that respects fundamental human rights norms.”44 Therefore, in a democratic system citizens must have confidence in the rules of the game. In a system that was shattered by years of armed struggle, the existence of a system of laws and justice is fundamental from both a procedural and a societal point of view. In these countries, due to the violent conflict, citizens have no trust in the judiciary and in the institutions of the state, consequently depriving the system of a big part of its legitimation.45 A democratic system needs to be accountable, and to function according to formal and publicly recognized rules. Otherwise, little chances are left for the system to be truly trustworthy and effectively functioning. However, this is a complex task in settings in which formal institutions have never existed or have been destroyed by a conflict. For instance, rule of law in Somalia was never related to a formal judiciary, but rather to informal leaders and customary law, making the attempt to establish a formal rule of law system after the decades long violence challenging.46 Therefore, the promotion of this domain in post war settings is crucial to create the necessary accountability that the system needs in order to function properly, but still represents an issue in terms of democratization.

1.3.4 A focus on civil conflicts: when the nation fails

One further reflection should be made in relation to civil wars which, apart from the problems mentioned above, do experience one other crucial challenge that emerges specifically in these contexts. In fact, the society as a whole here seems to be more deeply harmed. After a civil war, the population is deeply divided, traumatized, and societal trust has disappeared, making it hard to think at the post conflict state in terms of nation. Indeed, hat seems to be inherent to civil wars is the fact that the nation weakens, and in the worst cases it fails.47 Citizens have thus no trust among themselves, but not even in the face of the government or the state. Thus, the whole system lacks the necessary trust and accountability to be considered legitimate. Clearly, societies that have experienced a civil war are divided, often along ethnic, religious or cultural lines, and these cleavages were among the main causes that fueled the conflict. Thinking for instance at Rwanda, where a genocide was perpetrated by the hutus against the tutsi community in 1994, and it caused the death of around 800,000 Rwandans. Clearly, the conflict here had ethnic roots, and the aftermath of the bloody genocide was extremely demanding from a societal point of view. The lack of trust and the breakdown of the idea of nation represent thus an obstacle to the establishment of a genuine democracy. In fact, in these contexts, nationalisms and divisions neglect the sense of common identity that is necessary to talk in terms of nation.48 The states of former Yugoslavia are emblematic in this sense, as the respective nationalisms played a crucial part in causing and fueling the conflict, especially for what concerns the Bosnian war, and even in the post conflict situation continued to represent a huge challenge to be faced. Furthermore, as it relates deeply to the society, it’s agreed that a vibrant civil society is an important element of a democratic system, thus if it lacks it will be harder for the population to effectively participate to the public and political discourse. Indeed, civil society is a key concept for the liberal paradigm, as it is seen as a tool to create the space for an autonomous association of collective interests, and also as a potential shield from authoritarian drift. However, in post conflict settings an active civil society usually lacks, leaving no space for the autonomous participation of citizens to the public life. In conclusion, it’s clear that civil wars create social fragmentations and mistrust that can obstacle the democratization process as a whole.

Due to all these characteristics, post conflict states experience deeper challenges on their path towards democratization than the ones generally experienced by countries that start their transition from a situation of peace, specifically because the regime transition must be accompanied by interventions in other domains, necessary to build the bases for the promotion and establishment of a democratic system. Indeed, democratization in post conflict countries is a complex and multidimensional practice, that needs to compromise a series of actions that must involve peacemaking, peacebuilding, and state-building too. Due to the complexity of these processes, specific and comprehensive strategies should be adopted to deal with all the aspects that are involved in the post war transition. In order to understand which actions are undertaken to do so, it will be necessary to reflect on the role of external actors. Why so? The contemporary international system is based on interdependency between the various elements compromised in it, from States to individuals and international organizations, making it impossible to analyze current warfare, and the democratization efforts related to it, without taking into account the role and impact of external forces in pushing and driving these efforts from the outside. Therefore, the next chapter will be dedicated to understanding the field of democracy promotion, operated by various actors, and this type of external action in relation to post conflict situations.


External democracy promotion in war-torn countries

2. Understanding the context

2.1 Historical framework and main actors

Historically, the promotion of democracy has increasingly assumed importance starting from the 1990s, with the end of the Cold War decades and the subsequent changes experienced by the international community.49 In fact, from that time the international scenario has deeply changed, and it has been characterized by the increasing occurrence of internal conflicts that create threats for the stability of the whole system, and a growing interest in the protection of human rights, that have consequently directed the attention of international actors towards a deeper projection abroad to face such challenges, especially efforts in the field of democracy promotion have grown consistently, and democratic governance has become one of the core values of the international system that its members have committed to enhance.50 Furthermore, increasing transitions towards democratic systems worldwide have given further impetus to this phenomenon, as the transitions and consolidations of democratic regimes have been supported by external forces. Needed to say, through time this type of external action has been highly criticized, and it’s often deemed as an attempt to simply overthrow a government that doesn’t align with the preferences of the actor who intervenes, or a way to exert influence outside one own’s boundaries. In general, if we consider such processes from an historical and empirical perspective, we can affirm that there seems to be little success in actually enhancing democracy, and thus that the practice of external-led democracy-building can surely be questioned in its validity. Plenty of cases can come up to scholars’ minds for this purpose: Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia-Herzegovina and South Sudan, are only few of the instances in which external efforts for democratization didn’t work as expected.51 However, there seems to be some good records concerning the role of these forces in ending ongoing violence. Therefore, the efficacy of the role of external actors in favoring democratizing processes is far from clear.

Nowadays, there’s a variety of actors that are involved in supporting and assisting democracy abroad, spanning from intergovernmental organizations to single states. The first actor that needs to be considered while discussing democracy promotion is certainly the United Nations, that have since their birth in 1945 deployed a significant number of peacebuilding, as well as peacekeeping and state-building, missions worldwide. These missions, especially the ones deployed since the 1990s, have adopted strategies aimed at promoting and enhancing democratic standards, thus recognizing the importance of this type of external support. Apart from the UN, among the most relevant actors in this field we must cite the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which have elaborated programs and strategies to support the promotion of democratic principles, intervening for instance in assisting and monitoring elections abroad.52 In particular, the European Union has created several special programs aimed at supporting foreign governments in the establishment of democratic standards.53 Moreover, one must also recall the role of non-governmental organizations which is important as they work to promote fundamental democratic values, such as the protection of human rights and the enhancement of civil society. In addition, other actors like donors and foundations invest significant amounts of resources to proceed towards this direction. However, also States by themselves may adopt programs to support democracy outside their countries, by creating specific governmental bodies that are in charge for this. One notable example, as Carothers notes, are the United States, that have made the promotion of democracy outside their borders a core priority of their foreign policy agenda. Therefore, late experiences of democratization processes show that the role of these forces is undeniable in driving externally the whole process. Generally, concerning the methods to advance democratic systems, as time went by, the initial tendency of external actors that engaged in democracy promotion abroad that consisted in adopting one single course of action that could be adapted to different context, was transformed in order to include a variety of activities and programs that can be shaped and take different forms depending on the specific area of intervention, and on the needs and challenges that democracy aid providers could face.54

The basic idea on which the supporters of democracy promotion rely on is that the advancement of democratic values, practices and standards is possible, and even more desirable. They also argue that, if the democratic peace thesis is valid, we should all desire a world made up of democratic political systems, and therefore promoting democratic practices abroad should be one crucial focus of the international community as a whole.55 Certainly, the idea of promoting democracy abroad has become over time an important foreign policy activity of a great number of actors that have embarked in such action worldwide. However, the actual picture is far from achieving this outcome. According to the data collected by the Freedom House, in 2017 democracy has gone through one of its most serious crises ever, as the 25% of the countries worldwide were considered not to be free, and 71 States experienced declines in both civil and political rights.56 Considering these facts, it’s easily understandable why the rhetoric of promoting democracy abroad is so recurrent and appealing in current times, even if it doesn’t produce the desired results.

2.2 Alternative strategies

Surely, the field of the promotion of democracy is highly varied, as the strategies adopted may differ from actor to actor, and they could also depend on the internal conditions of the country target of the intervention. Moreover, as it was already shown while discussing the literature regarding democratization, even the one referring to the enhancement of democracy abroad is varied. First of all, an interesting distinction concerning democracy promotion is the one elaborated by Thomas Carothers, who distinguishes between two main approaches that are followed by external actors. The first one is the political approach, which basically aims at supporting key political institutions and processes. It mainly directs aid at the core democratic institutions, such as elections, civil society groups and parties. Moreover, aid providers seek to support the democratic tendencies and forces in a country, in order to fight and defeat the authoritarian regime, and this can be done both by providing direct assistance to the key political figures and bodies, or indirectly by supporting institutions, for instance by granting assistance to an independent electoral commission. Thus, the attention is focused on enhancing the competitive and open character of the political process.57 On the other hand, the second approach is named ‘developmental’, and it is based on a conception of democracy that compromises a greater array of democratic principles, involving also economic and social concerns. In this field, promoting democracy is based mainly on indirect activities that aim at increasing good governance and the capacity of the state concerned, including also a particular focus on the protection of human rights. Compared to the political approach, as Carothers argues, the developmental method is more long-term oriented, and it involves programs that have a broader spectrum of action.58

As just introduced, the strategies and programs elaborated to deal with the promotion of democratic standards vary, and can take the forms of electoral assistance, technical assistance provided to governments and their officials, media support, and enhancement of the rule of law among others. Nevertheless, it is possible to distinguish three main approaches that are generally adopted by the international community to promote democracy abroad, as Peter Burnell highlights. Such approaches may follow three different paths, depending on the relations in which external actors intervene: they might engage in economic relations with the stated concerned; they could intervene through state relations; and finally, democracy supporters can engage with the civil society. Firstly, the role of international actors in influencing the economic environment of an authoritarian regime may take two different forms: those actors can in some way contribute to the collapse of authoritarian regimes, for instance through the adoption of international sanctions, and then provide assistance to the new government that is established; or they can encourage and support the development of the economic requisites that can subsequently favor the flourishment of the right conditions for internal pressures pushing for political transition.59 Generally, the strategies involved in this field can span from economic sanctions to aid conditionality. However, Burnell notes, this path is far from being totally efficient. In fact, economic problems don’t necessarily create the desirable political outcomes, in this case the collapse of the authoritarian regime, in the short term, as countries like Cuba or Zimbabwe show. The second approach concerns state relations, and it involves other types of strategies such as the membership to a particular regional organization, instruments of soft diplomacy, but also military intervention that force a regime change. The European Union is one of the most notable examples of political conditionality, as it has acted as a crucial force for democratization in Eastern and Central Europe. But still, the success of these strategies is actually relative, and varies depending especially on the character of the targeted regime.60 Finally, the last path regards the civil society relations, which is a field of intervention relatively new in which international actors currently intervene to encourage democratization. The activities of such actors can take different forms also concerning the civil society, but according to Burnell they should focus on encouraging stronger links among different organizations, and the creation of regional and international civil society networks, so that civil society groups would be much more interconnected and assume further relevance also from a governmental point of view.61

To conclude, it’s possible to affirm that coherent approaches in the advancement of democracy abroad seem to lack, in literature as well as in practice, and consequently this kind of external action is often deemed as weak and ineffective. The relatively poor success, and other times the complete failure, of many interventions of this kind by international actors, among which two of the most notable cases are Afghanistan and Iraq, have raised significant doubts regarding the efficacy of democracy promotion, and also concerning the legitimacy of such activities. Moreover, criticism is also attracted by the fact that many affirm that it’s not possible to export democracy, but rather change should be driven from within, and that most of the time the type of aid provided by democracy supporters actually damages the context of intervention.62

2.3 External-led democratization of post conflict settings

2.3.1 Overview of the literature

As already argued in the previous chapter, in post conflict countries the system does possess specific features that make these countries radically different from states that may start their transition to democracy from a situation of peace, especially because the challenges experienced by states in the aftermath of a conflict seem to be certainly more and deeper, as they don’t only concern the establishment of democratic institutions but also the restoration of security, stability, and of many basic elements of the existence of the state that are crucial to make democracy possible. Despite some cases of success, among which it’s possible to recall the transition that Namibia undertook after the end of the Cold War and that brought the country to be considered since then a stable democracy, many other cases seem to point out the impossibility of achieving democracy in post conflict areas. In today’s world, excluding the role of external actors in influencing or fostering political transitions is not possible. Thus, many questions arise on the impact that they can have in these contexts. Can external actors increase the likelihood that countries exiting a conflict can turn into democratic states? Generally, empirical evidence seems to deny this possibility most of the times.63 This conclusion might be legitimate, if we think at today’s Bosnia or Afghanistan, where external actors have intervened extensively, investing a great amount of resources, without achieving the desired results in terms of democratic transformation. In Bosnia, for instance, the international forces were able to put an end to the hostilities that were taking place on the ground, however little results were achieved in terms of stable democracy, and ethnic cleavages are still pervasive in society. The system that was designed in Dayton in 1995 was not able of putting the country in a situation of social integration and cohesion, and domestic politics remain highly polarized on ethnic lines, leaving little space for genuine competition and representation. In Afghanistan, even the most basic security requirements failed to be reached, consequently harming the whole transition, and external actors also failed to address all the essential political aspects of the system that needed to be targeted efficiently by their strategies.

It’s important to underline that the scholar thought surrounding political transitions in war-torn states goes hand in hand with that branch of literature which focuses on peacebuilding, as the two phenomena, peace and democracy, in such contexts must both be taken into consideration.64 Indeed, there’s no consensus among scholars on the actual relationship between the two. Some authors argue that they are deeply linked, and that a positive relation exists between them, as there seems to be no democracy without peace and, viceversa.65 Nevertheless, others reject this assumption and, on the contrary, affirm that in post conflict settings democracy and peace might both be desirable goals, but they actually contradict each other.66 Moreover, while discussing democracy-building, the concept of state-building must be taken into consideration too, as it relates tightly to the democratization process in the aftermath of a war, as it will be presented in the following paragraphs.

As a consequence of the lack of consensus on the most basic assumptions that underlie this field of research, the theoretical thought that surrounds to the role played by external actors in these processes is highly debated. Here, in order to provide some coordinates, I will present some of the main theories that are present in literature, starting from Sonja Grimm who elaborates, along with Wolfang Merkel, four modes of external democratization, depending on the way through which those actors intervene in the country taken into consideration, that are the following:

1. Enforcement of democratization by enduring post-war occupation;
2. Restoration of an elected government through military means;
3. Military intervention in ongoing conflicts – ‘humanitarian intervention’ – and then engagement in democratic regime-building;
4. Enforcement of democracy on rogue states by democratic intervention.67

The authors then classify empirical cases of external democratization according to this model, and they try to understand the reason why cases corresponding to mode 1, namely Japan, Austria and Germany after WWII, were successful in re-establishing a democratic system, while instances of post-1990 democratizing efforts did not obtain the same positive results. Briefly said, they found that the success of external democratization depends on several factors, specifically the type of conflict in which external actors intervene, and on some structural conditions that influence the environment in which they play their role.68 Indeed, case studies show that there are conditions on the ground that are more favorable in allowing a democratizing process in such environments to succeed, while others do present a major challenge for it. The basic idea is that if security issues are not appropriately addressed, if the state has failed, if societal trust cannot be efficiently rebuilt right after the conflict, the transition toward democracy will be highly unlikely despite the external efforts brought on to support it.

Interestingly, Zuercher has built an analysis of the impact of peacebuilding missions on the level of democracy in a post conflict zone by comparing 17 peace missions that started between 1989 and 2001, in order to understand if they were successful and why. In order to do so, he has taken into consideration five dimensions: the absence of war, the full re-establishment of the monopoly of violence in the hands of the state, the institutional capacities, democracy and finally economic development.69 Overall, what he finds is that, despite 13 missions were successful in ending the conflict, only one out of three achieved a valuable increase in the level of democracy during the first five years of deployment. Moreover, less than a half enhanced the effectiveness of the government.70 Therefore, he concludes that the task of building democracy is not easily manageable by external actors, despite the amount of efforts and resources invested, and that the prospects of externally building democracy in a post conflict environment doesn’t seem to be optimistic in terms of the results achieved. On the contrary, other authors underline the positive impact of external intervention in post conflict settings with regard to democracy. Doyle and Sambanis elaborate a sophisticated analysis of 124 civil wars that took place after the end of WWII to examine the impact of UN peace operations, and specifically their effect on democratization. Data suggest, according to the authors, that the probability of a successful peacebuilding mission depends on several factors: the country’s own capacities, the depth of the hostilities occurred during the conflict, and finally the availability of international assistance. As a result of their detailed analysis, they conclude that UN peace operations are positively correlated to democratization processes, and they can increase the chances that the state in which they intervene will remain at peace.71 A similar optimistic approach is the one adopted by Nancy Bermeo, who points out that democracies can emerge from war, as it has happened for half of the democratic political entities that emerged worldwide after 1945, both right at the end of a conflict, or as a mean to bring an end to it.72 Similarly, Steinert and Grimm try to assess the actual effectiveness of peacebuilding missions deployed by the UN in their democratizing role in post conflict states. For the purpose of their study, they collect data about 103 civil wars, 31 of which experienced a UN peacebuilding mission. They conclude that in the cases where a UN mission was deployed to build peace, the likelihood of democratic transformation was higher. For instance, they took into analysis the UN mission that was deployed to Mozambique between 1992 and 1994, named ONUMOZ, and found that it truly aided the transition of the country towards a multiparty democratic system. Similarly, the mission that was deployed to Croatia after the end of the Yugoslav wars (UNTAES), which established a transitional administration of the eastern region of the country, significantly contributed to the economic reconstruction and the promotion of democratic human rights standards.73


1 L. Morlino , Transitions to Democracy: What Theory to Grasp Complexity?, Working paper No. 6, LUISS Academy (2014), p. 13.

2 S. Huntington, Democracy’s Third Wave, in R. Dahl, I. Shapiro, and J. A. Cheibub (eds.), The Democracy Sourcebook, the MIT Press (2003), p. 93.

3 K. Newton and J. W. Van Deth, Foundation of Comparative Politics, Democracies of the Modern World, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, Second Edition (2010), p. 57.

4 Morlino, op. cit., pp. 13-14.

5 Morlino, op. cit., pp. 15-16.

6 S. M. Lipset , Some Social Requisites of Democracy: Economic Development and Political Legitimacy, in “The American Political Science Review” , Vol. 53, No. 1 (1959), p. 75.

7 B. Geddes , What causes democratization?, in C. Boix and S.C. Stokes (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Politics, Oxford University Press, Oxford (2007), p. 321.

8 A. Przeworski and F. Limongi, Modernization, Theories and Facts, in “World Politics” , Vol. 49, No. 2 (1997), pp. 159, 167, 177.

9 Huntington, op. cit., p. 94.

10 S. Levitsky and L. Way, International Linkage and Democratization, in “Journal of Democracy”, Vol. 16, No. 3 (2005), p. 20.

11 Levitsky and Way, op. cit., p. 21.

12 Ivi, pp 22-23.

13 Ivi, pp. 25-26.

14 J. C. Pevehouse, Democracy from the Outside-In? International Organizations and Democratization, in “International Organization”, Vol. 56, No. 3 (2002), pp. 524-25.

15 Pevehouse, op. cit., pp. 525-527.

16 Ivi, p. 529.

17 According to the definition provided by UCDP: “It results in at least 25 battle-related deaths in one calendar year”. Moreover, a state-based conflict is defined as “war” if it reaches 1000 battle-related deaths in a specific calendar year. Available at

18 T. Petterson, and K. Eck, Organized violence, 1989-2017, in “Journal of Peace Research”, Vol. 55, No. 4 (2018), p. 535.

19 Petterson and Eck, op. cit., p. 537.

20 Ivi, p. 538.

21 Ivi, p. 539.

22 M. Kaldor, In defense of New Wars, in “Stability: International Journal of Security and Development”, Vol. 2, No. 1 (2013), p. 2.

23 Ibid.

24 Ivi, p. 6.

25 J. Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, in R. Dahl, I. Shapiro, and J. A. Cheibub (eds.), The Democracy Sourcebook, the MIT Press (2003), p. 9.

26 R. Dahl, La democrazia e i suoi critici, Editori Riuniti, Roma, II edizione (1997), pp. 206-207.

27 L. Diamond, Promoting Democracy in Post-Conflict and Failed States. Lessons and Challenges, in “Taiwan Journal of Democracy”, Vol. 2, No. 2 (2006), p. 94.

28 M. Weber, Politics as a vocation, in H. H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills (eds.), Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, Oxford University Press, New York (1946), p. 1.

29 S. Grimm, External Democratization after War: Success and Failure, in “Democratization”, Vol.15, No. 3 (2008), p 535.

30 D. W. Brinkerhoff, Governance in Post-Conflict Societies. Rebuilding fragile states, in “Contemporary Security Studies”, Routledge, London (2007), pp. 5-6.

31 Grimm, op. cit., p. 536.

32 K. Menkhaus, State collapse in Somalia: second thoughts, in “Review of African Political Economy”, Vol. 30, No. 97 (2003), p. 407.

33 Ibid.

34 Ivi, pp. 409-410.

35 Diamond, op. cit., p. 96.

36 Brinkerhoff, op. cit., p. 5

37 C. T. Call, Beyond the ‘failed state’: Toward conceptual alternatives, in “European Journal of International Relations”, Vol. 17, No. 2 (2010), pp. 307-308.

38 United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), The Challenges of Restoring Governance in Crisis and Post-Conflict Countries, United Nations publication (2007), p. 9.

39 L. Wild, M. Foresti and P. Domingo, International assistance to political party and party system development, in “Overseas Development Institute” (2011), p. v.

40 B. Reilly, Political Parties and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding, in “Civil Wars”, Vol. 15 (2013), p. 89.

41 United Nations, International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Available at

42 Bosnian Muslim-based Party of Democratic Action; Serbian Democratic Party; Croatian Democratic Union.

43 C. Manning, Elections and political change in post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina, in “Democratization”, Vol. 11, No. 2 (2004), pp. 62-63.

44 J. Stromseth, Post-Conflict Rule of Law Building: The Need for a Multi-Layered, Synergistic Approach, in “Georgetown University Law Center” (2008), pp. 1452.

45 UNDESA and UNDP, op. cit., pp. 73-74.

46 Menkhaus, op. cit., pp. 411-412.

47 A. von Bogdandy, S. Haussler, F. Hanschmann, and R. Utz, State-building, Nation-building and Constitutional Politics in Post-Conflict Situations: Conceptual Clarifications and an Appraisal of Different Approaches, in A. von Bogdandy and R. Wolfrum (eds.), Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law, Vol. 9 (2005), p. 584.

48 Von Bogdandy, Haussler, Hanschmann, and Utz, op. cit., p. 585.

49 T. Carothers, Democracy assistance: The question of strategy, in “Democratization”, Vol. 4, No. 3 (1997) p. 109.

50 C. T. Call and S. E. Cook, Introduction: Postconflict Peacebuilding and Democratization, in “Global Governance” , Vol. 9, No. 2 (2003), p. 136.

51 J. Hippler, Democratization after civil wars. Key problems and experiences, in “Democratisation”, Vol. 15, No.3 (2008), p. 551.

52 P. Burnell, From Evaluating Democracy Assistance to Appraising Democracy Promotion, in “Political studies”, Vol. 56, No. 2 (2008), p. 416.

53 Carothers, op. cit., pp. 109-111.

54 T. Carothers, Democracy assistance: political vs developmental?, in “Journal of Democracy”, Vol. 20, No. 1 (2009), p. 5.

55 The democratic peace theory, which dates back to Immanuel Kant, is based on the assumption that democracies are more peaceful than other types of regimes, because they tend not to fight each other. As a consequence, a world of democracies would be a peaceful one.

56 Freedom House, Freedom in the World 2018. Democracy in Crisis. Available at Accessed March 20, 2019.

57 Carothers, ‘Democracy assistance: political vs developmental?’, pp. 5-7.

58 Ivi, pp. 8-9.

59 P. Burnell, Democracy Promotion: The Elusive Quest for Grand Strategies, in “Internationale Politik und Gesellschaft”, Vol. 204, Issue 3 (2004), pp. 100-104.

60 Ivi, pp. 106-108.

61 Burnell, Democracy Promotion, pp. 110-113.

62 Burnell, From Evaluating Democracy Assistance to Appraising Democracy Promotion, pp. 418-421.

63 C. Zuercher, N. Roehner, and S. Riese, External Democracy Promotion in Post-Conflict Zones. A Comparative-Analytical Framework, in “Taiwan Journal of Democracy”, Vol. 5, No. 1 (2009), p. 18.

64 Call and Cook, op. cit., p. 135.

65 Zuercher, Roehner, and Riese, op. cit., p. 3.

66 Hippler, op. cit., p. 562.

67 Grimm, op. cit., p.526.

68 Ivi, p. 534.

69 C. Zuercher, Is More Better? Evaluating External-Led State-Building After 1989, CDDRL, Working Papers (2006), pp. 10-11.

70 Ivi, p. 12.

71 M. W. Doyle and N. Sambanis, International Peacebuilding: A Theoretical and Quantitative Analysis, in “The American Political Science review”, Vol. 94, No. 4 (2000), pp. 779-801.

72 N. Bermeo, What the Democratization Literature Says – or Doesn’t Say – About Postwar Democratization, in “Global Governance”, Vol. 9, No. 2, Governance After War: Rethinking Democratization and Peacebuilding (2003), pp. 159-177.

73 J. I. Steinert and S. Grimm, Too good to be true? United Nations peacebuilding and the democratization of war-torn countries, in “Conflict Management and Peace Science”, Vol. 32, No. 5 (2015), pp. 523-524, 530.

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Post Conflict Democratization. The Role of External Actors in Rebuilding Legitimacy and the Example of Afghanistan
University of Pavia
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democratization, Afghanistan, external actors, legitimacy, international politics, conflict
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Alessia Rossinotti (Author), 2020, Post Conflict Democratization. The Role of External Actors in Rebuilding Legitimacy and the Example of Afghanistan, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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