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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Inclusiveness and status in international organizations : cases of democratic norm development and policy implementation in the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the United Nations Hecht, Catherine Anne


The tension between sovereign equality and democratic status, or hierarchies based on democratic governance, is under-analyzed in scholarship of international organizations (IOs). IOs with formally inclusive compositions derive moral authority and legitimacy from their inclusiveness. Yet this inclusiveness is challenged by democratic status, with varied consequences. Scholarly explanations of democratic norm development in IOs typically credit the favorable environment at the end of the Cold War, interests of a hegemonic power, those of established democracies, interests of new democracies to “lock in” democratic systems, or the autonomy of international institutions. Existing accounts have thus under-emphasized inclusive institutions and democratic status as important (and interacting) explanatory variables. This dissertation draws on insights from literature on institutional design, constructivism, and social psychology to examine the evolution and roles of inclusive institutions and democratic status in the development of democratic norms and policy implementation in two inclusive IOs: the United Nations (UN) and the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe/Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE/OSCE) between the respective origins of the organizations in 1945 or 1973 and 2010. While inclusive institutions sometimes lead to deadlock, under certain conditions, and counter to conventional wisdom, they have occasionally proven highly supportive of democratic norm development. This study examines influential mechanisms, including relations between inclusive institutions and windows of opportunity, norm restatements and re-consideration of failed proposals, issue linkage, contributions of procedural legitimacy to norm expansion, inclusive institutions’ role in (re-)authorizing (or inhibiting) implementation policies, and vulnerability to shifts in political will. The dissertation draws on content analysis through process tracing of archival data and statements, counterfactual analysis, and semi-structured interviews. To assess the evolution and influence of democratic status, new indicators are developed. The study employs and adapts concepts from social identity theory and emphasizes additional factors (e.g. salience of democratic status, appeal of prototypical states, and prestige of IOs) that also affect states’ pursuit of strategies of social mobility, social competition, or social creativity, thus contributing to cooperation or discord for democratic norm development in inclusive IOs. Counter-intuitively, the institutionalization of a norm can, in fact, lead to regress.

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