The EU’s human rights policy: Unpacking the literature on the EU’s implementation of aid conditionality

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Series Details No.02, March 2013
Publication Date 2013
ISSN 1890- 7741
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The European Union (EU) is often denoted as a sui generis international actor. Assessing this putative uniqueness, this paper examines one key aspect of the EU's foreign policy: the linking of development aid to compliance with human rights and democracy principles, commonly referred to as conditionality. The chapter unpacks the literature on the EU's conditionality policy and systematically evaluates the record of implementing the human rights clause. The literature has largely followed realist theory arguing that the EU’s foreign policy decisions are driven by economic interest or security considerations. I find that existing studies have used a biased selection of cases. A combination of (implicit) theoretical assumptions and methodological choices appears to be guiding the selection process. Existing hypotheses are not sought falsified, as they are tested only on a set of cases where ʻinterestʼ of some sort is already known to exist. I find non-implementation of the clause also in countries where the EU has no such specific 'interestsʼ. Given these additional cases the account of the EU's policy regarding aid conditionality must be reconsidered.

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