The general tendency in academic writing about the UN is to highlight its contribution to the maintenance of international peace and security, as well as its role in boosting economic, social and other forms of cooperation among states. One aspect that has been left rather in the shadow is the UN’s role in democracy promotion. This article explores the UN’s engagement in promoting democracy around the world through theoretical, legal, historical and conceptual lenses. The major question it addresses is whether the UN is engaged in promoting democracy, and, if yes, how this role has manifested itself on normative and institutional grounds. This article identifies fundamental ways in which the UN contributes to the globalisation of the norm of democracy. The major argument underlined by the article is that the UN has a long history of involvement in democracy promotion, although it has done so more spontaneously than in pursuit of a clear objective and strategy.
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