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Sovereignty, Democracy and the Emergence of a Polycentric World Order

Democracy
International Relations
NATO
Ieva Berzina
National Academy of Defence of the Republic of Latvia
Ieva Berzina
National Academy of Defence of the Republic of Latvia

Abstract

The interaction of sovereignty and democracy is a wide research area that became particularly topical after the breakdown of the Soviet Union, which rightfully can be regarded as a triumph of democracy. At the time there were many voices claiming that the global dominance of the US will be established through its democratic appeal. The concept of sovereignty then gradually lost its importance in the face of increasing global interdependence. However, a decade after the end of the Cold War the reverse process in Russia began. One of the visible milestones in Russia’s relations with the West was V. Putin’s speech at Munich security conference in 2007 where he declared that the unipolar model of the balance of power is not viable. Likewise Russian National Security Strategy that was approved at the end of the 2015 declares that Russia’s long-term national interest is to strengthen its status as one of the leading world powers in a polycentric world. This mindset in Russia’s political leadership is closely related to the issue of sovereignty and democracy interaction, because American supremacy is being challenged by discrediting global democracy promotion initiatives supported by the US and its Western allies as a violation of state sovereignty. The analysis of Russia’s strategic documents and speeches of high rank officials reveal that sovereignty is being voiced as important norm in international relations. What are domestic and international implications of Russia’s attempts to revive the importance of sovereignty as a norm in international relations? This research question is being answered by discovering how the concepts of sovereignty and democracy is being used in Russia’s strategic documents and speeches of high ranking officials in the context of the Ukrainian crisis and the war in Syria. The preliminary findings are that domestically it leads to the consolidation of authoritarianism, but internationally – to the tensions in relations with the West, the war of ideas, and double-standards in the interpretation and application of the concept of sovereignty.