Globalization, Private Security, and Democratic Processes: Implications for the Democratic Peace?

Deborah Avant
Content Type
Working Paper
Centre for International Peace and Security Studies
During the 1990s and into this century, a robust market for force emerged alongside and intertwined with state military forces. The rise of stateless forces associated with globalization is often seen as breaking down barriers between states and enhancing the prospects for peace, particularly among advanced democracies. Stateless forces, in particular marketbased security, may also, however, alter the functioning of democracies. A widely held, albeit often implicit, assumption of much theory and research in international relations, especially in the literature on the democratic peace, is that states rely on their own military organizations rather than hired guns to project force. The question addressed here is whether the attributes that have been identified as promoting trust among democracies remain strong when states rely on private forces instead of, or in addition to, public ones. If greater reliance on the market to satisfy security needs affects the transparency, constitutionalism and public consent of their foreign policy processes, the market for force could have implications for trust among democracies – and at the extreme, perhaps even for the democratic peace. Overall, we conclude that the use of private security by the US threatens to weaken key institutional mechanisms taken to enhance trust between it and other democracies.
Democratization, Economics, Globalization, Markets
Political Geography
United States