Student Profiles

Cassandra Emmons '14

Mentor:
Mark Pollack
Title of Project:
Ambiguous Attacks on Democracy in Europe and the Americas: What Can the Intergovernmental Organization Do?

Past the time of traditional coups, today’s would-be dictators are seeking out more ambiguous ways to undercut democracy.  These norm violations are often difficult to identify, and sometimes are conceived of as less threatening to outsiders.  So, what can an intergovernmental organization do if its member states begin to violate common democratic norms in an ambiguous way?  While some have claimed IGO action is determined by the violating state’s power or the pressure of third parties, few have explored the influence of an IGO’s structure and design on its decision to enforce norms.  This paper’s seeks to raise awareness of the ambiguous measures being taken to undermine democracy, and to disaggregate the complex process of IGO norm enforcement and subject the moving parts to initial scrutiny. 

In this thesis, I assess the impact of five IGO characteristics on its decision to enforce democratic norms in member states: IGO composition or democratic density, democratic norm legalization, enforcement provisions, voting rules in the IGO’s intergovernmental branches, and delegation to the IGO’s supranational bodies.  I develop six, independent hypotheses, relating one IGO characteristic to one aspect of the decision-making process.  Using a pattern matching research design, I conduct a comparative cases study of the Peruvian autogolpe facing the Organization of American States in 1992 with the Hungarian constitutional crisis challenging the European Union today to test each variable’s predicted effect.