Democracy and the Legalization of the Military Use of Force

The issue of democratic states’ attitudes towards international law acuminates finds its litmus test in the use of military force. On the one hand, this issue opens a possible contradiction between binding international norms and the autonomy of democratic decision-making processes. It goes without saying that this is extraordinarily delicate regarding questions of war or peace. On the other hand, it puts into focus the scope conditions of legitimate arguments for the collective use of military force by a community (Gemeinschaft) of democratic states which is facing an international law produced collectively by democracies and non-democracies. Thus, the legitimacy of this legal framework, representing heterogenity, can be (and has been) called into question. The project aims at generating a typology of the practice of democracies faced with these problematiques in their institutional-procedural as well as dicursive-practical dimensions.

The parliamentary control of the deployment of troops affects the democracies’ politics of international law in a twofold manner. First, when parliamentary approval is necessary, the executive branch is prevented from terminating military interventions arbitrarily. Regarding to questions of international law, this becomes relevant here insofar as it is international legal standards that define the lines of a non-arbitrary use of force. Second, internationally mandated deployments do not “automatically” penetrate domestic politics. Rather, those mandates are to be mediated by parliaments. Thus, parliamentary control can indeed thwart the will of the international society.

As to the discursive-practical dimension of this project, the focus is on the signification of international law in domestic discourses on the use of military force. In this respect, the project utilizes the findings ascertained in the course of core project Causes of the differences in war involvement of democracies since 1990: Ambivalent liberal values can be referred to in order to legitimize, as well as to reject an option of military intervention. By the same token, international legal arguments always float in a certain spectrum of possible legitimizing practices that, so it is assumed, vary between democracies.

Due to the character of the two sub-projects different methods are applied. The institutional-procedural analyses compares 26 democracies by means of statistics as well as of Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA). The second part of the project attends to discourse analyses of four democracies. To all appearances, the United States and Germany depict the ends of a continuum according to their attitudes towards international law and the prohibition of the use of force. Moreover, two additional democratic states are to be analysed in order to capture intermediate positions on this continuum. Finally, in consolidating the two sub-projects, the aim is to generate a framework for a typology of democratic politics of international law and to make that framework accessible for subsequent research.

Project director:
  • Wagner, Wolfgang
"Natural Friends"? | 2009

Harald Müller/Andreas Schmidt, "Natural Friends"? Relations between the United States and India after 2001, PRIF Report No. 87, Frankfurt/M., 2009.

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"Natürliche Freunde"? | 2008

Harald Müller/Andreas Schmidt, "Natürliche Freunde"? Die Beziehungen zwischen den USA und Indien ab 2001, HSFK-Report Nr. 8/2008, Frankfurt/M.

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Liberale Theorien des Demokratischen Friedens: Ein Vergleich vor dem Hintergrund der „Revolution in Military Affairs“ | 2007

Andreas Schmidt, Liberale Theorien des Demokratischen Friedens: Ein Vergleich vor dem Hintergrund der „Revolution in Military Affairs“, Marburg (Tectum), 2007.

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Den Rat neu erfinden? | 2006

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Rechtsrealität versus Realpolitik | 2005

Andreas Fischer-Lescano, Rechtsrealität versus Realpolitik. Die Strafanzeige in Deutschland gegen Donald Rumsfeld wegen der Folterungen in Abu Ghraib, HSFK-Standpunkte, Nr. 1/2005, Frankfurt/M.

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Die EU in internationalen Umweltabkommen | 2005

Michael Bothe, Die EU in internationalen Umweltabkommen, in: Charlotte Gaitanides/Stefan Kadelbach/Carlos Gil Rodriguez Iglesias (Hg.), Europa und seine Verfassung. Festschrift für Manfred Zuleeg zum siebzigsten Geburtstag, Baden-Baden (Nomos) 2005, S. 668-681.

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Grenzen demokratischen Rechts? | 2005

Oliver Eberl/Andreas Fischer-Lescano, Grenzen demokratischen Rechts? Die Entsendeentscheidungen zum Irakkrieg in Großbritannien, den USA und Spanien, HSFK-Reports Nr 8/2005, Frankfurt/M.

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