Sean Y. Palmer

Keene State College

Political Science


Mentor: B. Thomas Trout - Professor of Political Science

The Emerging Norm of Democracy: Democratic Governance as an International Standard

Since the collapse of the Soviet Empire, there has been much advocacy within academia about an emerging universal norm of democracy. Such presuppositions are based on the idea of the superiority of Western-style democracy over other forms of social governance and the assumption that there is a growing universal acceptance of Western-liberal values.

The goal of this research has been to develop a methodological model which would quantify a norm forming pattern towards universal democracy and thereby identify true empirical features of a potential trend towards global democracy. Concepts of norm development and norm strength are quantified through trends in international treaties, agreements and conventions as well as the extent to which the international community monitors elements of democracy and the degree in which the international community imposes sanctions for non-conformity.

Three cases of recent democratic transition are offered for application to this model. Such a broader consideration of a possible trend toward universal democracy will have more validity than the rash of theories based primarily on just the post-Soviet model.

The model developed here is proposed only as a start in what is hoped to be a more careful consideration of the normative process in international relations, particularly as it relates to accepted and preferred systems of social governance. Such closer examination becomes vital as more and more countries model their foreign policy less on ideas of non-intervention and more on the enforcement of international norms.

« View 1994 McNair Scholars