Title page for ETD etd-02282006-101347

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Pretorius, Joelien
URN etd-02282006-101347
Document Title The democratic peace as an approach to world peace in the information era
Degree MA (International Politics)
Department Political Sciences
Advisor Name Title
Prof A du Plessis Committee Chair
  • democracy
  • peace
Date 2001-09-01
Availability unrestricted
The study explores the plausibility of the democratic peace as an approach to world peace in the information era by analysing causality and deductive structures associated with the variables world peace, democracy and information technology as found in text. It also pursues a normative objective, namely to propose ways in which information technology can be employed to further democracy and world peace.

The advent of the information era challenges scholars of International Relations to evaluate theories and concepts of International Relations within the framework of information technology. Traditionally placed within the realm of liberal internationalism, the democratic peace contends that democracies are unlikely to wage war with one another because they perceive one another to be constrained by norms and institutions unique to their democratic nature. The spread of democracy will thus enhance world peace. Information technology contributes to the spread and institutionalisation of democratic norms by providing access to abundant information through channels difficult to bring under government control, facilitating the mobilisation and organisation of pro-democracy movements and creating unprecedented opportunities for civil participation in the political process. Through deductive reasoning it can therefore be argued that the democratic peace and thus world peace, are likely to be enhanced in the information era.

This conclusion is based on a neo-liberal definition of world peace, that is, the absence of lethal violence between states amounting to battle fatalities of at least I 000. In the information era, such a definition is too limited to underlie a comprehensive approach to peace. Most wars are no longer fought between states or at the state level. They are protracted, deeply structural conflicts that involve a mix of state and non-state actors, private interests, professional armies or mercenaries and ethnic or religious factions. World peace is thus better defined along human security as opposed to national security lines, namely to remove the institutional obstacles and promote the structural conditions that will facilitate the growth of socio-cultural, economic and political trends to achieve conditions congruent with peace values such as security, non-violence, identity, equity and well-being.

It is possible to expand the democratic peace approach theoretically to achieve world peace thus defined, by drawing on the Kantian origins of democratic peace theory. Kant emphasised that individuals are citizens of a universal state of mankind governed by universal morality. Such a cosmopolitan interpretation of the democratic peace grasps the interconnectedness and interdependencies of the information era, going beyond the state level and state actors. The approach is plausible because information technology enables global civil society through the help of the global media, to promote and institutionalise democratic norms such as security, freedom, justice and community. Civil society movements expose information about the often hidden interests or structural factors characteristic of wars. By mobilising public opinion and putting pressure on governments, international organisations and the private sector to act in ways congruent with democratic values, they promote global democracy and globalise the democratic peace. The plausibility of this approach to world peace is conditioned on the extent to which Internet governance and civil society are democratised, the digital divide bridged and the global media oriented towards promoting peace.

© 2001, University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Pretorius, J 2001, Die demokratiese vrede as ‘n benadering tot wêreldvrede in die inligtingsera, MA dissertation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-02282006-101347/ >


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