Thoughts on Democratic Intervention in International Conflict

In the last week, I found myself stumbling on a variety of articles covering peace programs and conflict resolution efforts in the Middle East and Africa. The majority of the articles focused on organizations driven by democratic values that employed an array of intervention practices in order to cultivate and/or preserve democratization in volatile countries within these regions.

For example, the Carter Center was previously involved in the observation of Palestinian Elections. Acting as neutral agents within the political process, it was their intent to ensure fairness within the election procedures by deterring corruption and fostering participation by all citizens. As described by Kaysen and Pastor, the surge in international interest in foreign elections “…has helped make elections fairer by making them more costly to manipulate...” and “…has [become] an indispensable element of legitimacy for governments.”

But, while learning about the practices of the Carter Center and other organizations intervening in politically related activities and injecting democratic values into various states, I could not help and think about the concept of cultural universalism. While democratic values and the continued pursuit of globalism and open trade thrive off concepts within cultural universalism, such as self-interest, an organization’s ignorance to regionalism and traditional culture may impede collaborative efforts, independent of democratic structure.

At the end of the day, one has to think that a neutral organization’s success requires a careful balance of international thought while maintaining sensitivity towards local interests and traditions.

A concept discussed by Snyder in Foreign Policy caught my interest… “Whereas realists dwell on the balance of power and liberals on the power of international trade and democracy, constructivists believe that debates about ideas are the fundamental blocks of international life. Individuals and groups become powerful if they can convince others to adopt their ideas” (Snyder, 2004).

A powerful concept to think about, regardless of your practice or relationship to ADR.


Kaysen, Carl, and Robert Pastor. "Collective Responses to Regional Problems."Bulletin of the American
Academy of Arts and Sciences
48.5 (1995): 14-27. JSTOR. Web. 22 Aug. 2010.

Snyder, Jack. "One World, Rival Theories." Foreign Policy 145 (2004): 52-62. JSTOR. Web. 22 Aug. 2010.

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