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The book explores the way in which the concept of democracy has increased in significance in international law over the past two decades. Indeed it has been identified as a condition of peace. Within the United Nations, democracy has now become accepted as the proper aspiration of all states and various accounts of democracy have been championed. Controversially, the promotion of democracy has also surfaced as a rationale for military intervention. The most prominent invocation of democracy at the international level is the context of post-conflict peacebuilding. It has been assumed that the achievement of a particular model of democracy is the goal of international intervention and support. The elements of this model include multi-party elections, a 'separation of powers' group of institutions, and the protection of human rights.
Concepts of transitional justice also inform the internationalised model of democracy. Most manifestations of the international process of building democracy have however failed. Unstable, hybrid governance forms dominate in post-conflict situations, from Iraq to East Timor. The book investigates what this reveals about the international design for democracy, arguing that the major problem has been the belief that democracy has a fixed form.