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Mechanisms of democratic control in hybrid orders

As global governance actors and the EU strategy for peace and security envision, a major component for building resilience and empowering the societies in fragile states is establishing democratic civilian control. It is the notion of democratic oversight and democratisation of security governance and the role of local actors funded by international organisations such as the EU/European countries or the United States that this book examines. The EU’s Global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy (shortly, European Union Global Strategy, EUGS), which replaced the 2013 European Security Strategy, aimed at projecting unity and actorness in global affairs, but also strengthened the EU’s commitment to democratisation and promotion of human rights, rule of law and democratic governance in fragile states. Importantly, civilian oversight is key to democratic civil-military relations as it represents a necessary condition for the consolidation of democracy (Dahl 1989: 244-5; Przeworski 1991: 73-9; Diamond 1999: 11) but also for military effectiveness (Gibson and Snider 1999: 213; Friihling el al. 2003; Bailey and Dammert 2006; Avant 2007: 87; Brooks 2007; Matei 2007; Bru- neau and Matei 2013: 921, 924; Croissant et al. 2013: 90-92) and security sector reform (Baciu 2017). Croissant et al. (2013: 197) define civilian democratic control as “the situation in which civilians possess effective political decision-making power in all relevant political matters”. Democratic civilian control of the security forces is embedded in international norms and standards on democratic governance of the security sector adopted by, inter alia, the EU, UN, OSCE or NATO.

Civil-military relations are an inherent part of democratic consolidation, as well as of military effectiveness. Reforms and democratic control can increase the efficiency of the mission outcomes. Empirical evidence suggests that “increased democratic control” fosters “effectiveness in military, intelligence, and police forces” (Bruneau and Matei 2013: 921, 924; see also Gibson and Snider 1999: 213; Friihling et al. 2003; Bailey and Dammert 2006; Avant 2007: 87; Matei 2007). The causal mechanism here is that reforms and democratic input can increase efficiency of the mission results by diminishing costs and increasing public acceptance, information symmetry, expertise and trust. Evidence from multiple cases suggests that efforts “to develop clear structures and mechanisms for coordination and leadership”, in other words a ‘‘common ground or shared goals”, increased efficiency at operational level (Metcalfe et al. 2012: 29). Cooperation between military actors and civil actors, including NGOs and think tanks, enables the achievement of outcomes that would not be possible through individual efforts. Therefore, an efficient and democratic security strategy requires the subordination of the military to democratically elected civilian actors.

The countries affected by insurgency, terrorism and armed conflict, with high security demands, as well as “legacies of undemocratic politics” (Luckham 2003: 14) can be at particular risk of long-term instability if the security sector is not governed in a democratic manner (Ball 2005: 26). Theories of democracy (Dahl 1994) argue that security, together with government capacity, represents the major prerequisite of democratisation processes. In particular in countries in transition from the authoritarian (or military) rule, civilian institutions might lack capacity to bring the military under democratic control. “[T]he quality of political leadership” (Cawthra and Luckham 2003: 310; see also Hutchful 2003) becomes significant for the success or failure of the reforms in the security and defence sector. This raises an interesting point regarding the relation between security and democracy in insecure, hybrid orders: is the absence of civilian capability generating a vacuum for armed forces to engage in political functions, beyond their role, in a manner that has some civilian acceptance if they persuade the people of the necessity to do so in order to maintain security?

The major research gap addressed in this book is the lack of a coherent set of theoretical propositions in relation to effective mechanisms to strengthen democratic civilian control in hybrid orders located in difficult security and geopolitical environments, and the role of local actors, funded by international actors such as the EU, UN or United States, in democratisation processes. The periods of transition deserve particular attention because they entail situations of political vacuum and offer windows of opportunity for negotiations and bargaining of new power relations and authority between political stakeholders. Citing Schmitter and Karl (1991), Croissant et al. (2013) define the periods of transition as ‘structured contingency’, “in which the potential for choice, strategic decisions, and political manoeuvring is enhanced but agents are not completely free to ignore structural context” (Croissant et al. 2013: 44) such as path-dependencies or ‘historical determinacy’ and “cultural influences on action” that impact the ‘equilibrium’ claimed by traditional rational choice theories (see North 1990; Agiiero 2001: 207-9).

Drawing on theoretical propositions from historical institutionalism and institutional change, Croissant et al. (2013) develop a conceptual framework for explaining democratic civilian control in transitional polities. They claim that the level of civilian control (low, medium or high) depends on the type of mechanism that civilians apply. Sanctioning refers at “punishing military disobedience and depriving military officers of benefits”, and holding the military accountable for “military defeat, political or economic failures or human rights abuses” (Croissant et al. 2013: 49; see also Herspring 2001). Counterbalancing is defined as a strategy of civilian control for restricting the armed forces’ ability for “organized resistance by exploiting existing rivalries or conflicts between different military factions or organizations in the security sector” (Croissant et al. 2013: 49; see also Frazer 1995: 41). Monitoring is conceptualised as activities that amplify the “chances of punishing military misconduct” and “detecting misbehaviour”, which would “reduce the probability of military insubordination” (Croissant et al. 2013: 49; see also Nelson 2002: 158; Feaver 2005: 68-75). Ascriptive selection attempts to minimise the “military’s disposition to subvert civilian control by promoting and appointing politically reliable officers, based upon criteria like class affiliation, ethnic origin”, etc. (Croissant et al. 2013: 50). Political socialisation “aims at strengthening the acceptance of civilian control by transforming the professional norms and mindset of the military officer corps through political education, the reform of officer training programs, and the reorganization of leadership principles”, argue Croissant et al. (2013: 50). Appeasement, acquiescence and appreciation represent the weak forms of civilian control, which refer to “setting incentives for the armed forces to refrain from political intervention”, “refrain from intruding on military prerogatives and the institutional autonomy of the military” or enhance public support or even appreciation for the armed forces (Croissant et al. 2013: 50; see also Aguero 1995: 243-345; Mares 1998; Feaver 1999: 228; Nelson 2002: 158).

The research focus of this book is to explore if and how collaboration among the political elites, civil society and the military can enable the achievement of sustainable and strategic solutions to initiate forms of civilian control and democratic security governance in hybrid orders. Do civilians, including civil society organisations (CSOs), and the military pursue collaborative relationships? Moreover, do civilians and experts working in or on the sector perceive any positive impacts from such collaborations and see any change over time between the periods of military and civilian rules?

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