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  • Print publication year: 2007
  • Online publication date: March 2012

9 - To Practice What They Preach: International Transitional Administrations and the Paradox of Norm Promotion



Since mid-1990s the United Nations and other multilateral organizations have through the establishment of international transitional administrations assumed responsibility for governance of war-torn territories. United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) is one of the bold experiments in internationally supported post-conflict state reconstruction, democratization and peacebuilding. International transitional administrations, such as UNMIK can be regarded as unparalleled opportunities to exert a normative influence and mould the state in reconstruction into a peaceful, liberal democracy. When the United Nations itself assumes a governing role, there is a temptation to demand the highest standards of democracy, human and minority rights, the rule of law etc. However, UNMIK was established through democratically deficient international processes and it is obviously not a representative democracy and should therefore not be held to the standards of a liberal democratic state. Yet, the mission is mandated to promote democracy and build democratic institutions of governance in Kosovo. How can liberal democratic norms be diffused in war-torn societies? What affects the ability to adopt norms of liberal democracy in societies that lack democratic culture? Through what means and channels is the UN promoting liberal democratic norms in Kosovo? To what extent are the Kosovars adopting these norms?

Taking the social constructivist assumption about norms and practices as mutually constitutive, this chapter sets out to explore the discrepancy between UNMIK's norm advocacy and practice of democracy.

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