Journal of International Relations and Development

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 610–639 | Cite as

A case for global democracy? Arms exports and conflicting goals in democracy promotion

  • Pavel Dufek
  • Michal MochtakEmail author
Original Article


Employing the framework of conflicting goals in democracy promotion as a departure point, the paper addresses the issue of arms exports to non-democratic countries as an important research topic which points to a reconsideration of certain fundamental conceptual and normative commitments underpinning democracy promotion. Empirically, we remind of the lingering hypocrisy of Western arms exporters, knowing that exports to non-democratic countries often hinder or block democratisation. This is not easily circumvented because of the many conflicting objectives both internal and external to democracy promotion itself. Yet, democracy and human rights promotion remain, ethically and pragmatically, important policy goals. Noting that the self-evident character of the state-based liberal democratic model is being increasingly questioned in the literature, we then critically explore a radical, and surprisingly natural, alternative vision: namely, if the commitment to democracy and human rights is to be genuine, only global democracy remains a viable way of resolving the many dilemmas, as it aspires to deal both with regulating arms exports and building accountable decision-making structures. Although we ultimately reject the globalist solution and lean towards a less radical constructivist approach, we endorse the underlying rationale that democracy promotion needs to embrace normative democratic theory sincerely.


Arms exports Conflicting goals Democracy promotion Democratic theory Global democracy Liberal democracy 



The paper is an output of a research project funded by the Czech Science Foundation (code GA16-13980S). We are grateful to JIRD’s anonymous reviewers for their comments and suggestions on previous drafts of the paper; they have helped improve the argument substantially. We also want to thank Andrew L. Roberts, Petr Preclík, Hubert Smekal, Martin Chovančík, Petr Ocelík, and other participants in the Research Seminar of the Faculty of Social Studies, Masaryk University, for their views on earlier versions.


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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political Science, Faculty of Social StudiesMasaryk UniversityBrnoCzech Republic
  2. 2.International Institute of Political ScienceMasaryk UniversityBrnoCzech Republic

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