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Conflict and Democracy


Admission requirements

This course builds upon 100-level courses of World Politics and Global Justice and moves toward 300-level courses in these majors


The course ‘Conflict and Democracy’ aims at providing an understanding of the ways in which democracy might play a role in resolving and reducing conflict. As a starting point the course will examine the philosophical foundations and nature of democracy. Democracy as a model of government is often presented as an unqualified good. This course will take a critical view of democracy and ask whether democratization is always a solution in conflict ridden and post conflict societies. The conditions for achieving and maintaining stable democratic government will be analysed. The practice of the United States to use conflict as a mechanism to create democracy in societies such as Afghanistan and Iraq will be critically discussed.

The role of new technology such as social media in creating and promoting democracy will also be examined.

The course will examine questions such as the following: – What are the various models of democracy? – Is there an ‘ideal’ model of democracy? – What are the major arguments against democracy? – How can constitutionalism assist in preventing conflict? – What are the challenges regarding democratisation facing specific regions of the world such as Africa? – What can one learn from the ‘wave of democratization’ taking place during the 2011 Arab Spring?

Course objectives

Upon completion of the course students should have achieved the following:

  • an understanding of the core themes of the course

  • an appreciation for the ways in which democratic theory can be applied to conflict situations

  • a critical grasp of the interaction and relationship between law and international politics

  • the ability to formulate a legal argument

  • the ability to do independent research and to write a legal essay


Please see the LUC website:

Mode of instruction

The course will consist of taught seminars. Students will be expected to prepare before each seminar by critically engaging with the prescribed readings. From Week 2 students will be expected to participate in short class debates on contemporary and controversial issues relating to the content of the course. Students will be expected to divide into teams and to argue for or against a proposition. Experts on the topic will be invited to guest lecture to students. Students will be graded on class participation and will be expected to interact and engage with the lecturer during the seminars.

Assessment method

  1. Interactive engagement with course material: In-class participation (20% of final grade), Ongoing Weeks 1 – 7
  2. Class Debate: assessed through an In-class debates:20%:Weeks 2 – 7
  3. Formulation of a legal argument and research skills: assessed in take-home essay
    (1500 words, 20% of final grade), due in Week 4
  4. Expression of holistic understanding of the course: Final written examination (40% of final grade), Week 8


a link to the blackboard page may be entered here

Reading list

There will be no prescribed textbook or reader for this course. The required reading for each week’s lectures will be listed in the course syllabus. Additional readings may be put on Blackboard. Students will be expected to regularly consult Blackboard. Students will occasionally be expected to find articles on the internet or in a law library –this will help them to require legal research skills. Students will also be expected to also do independent research for essays.


This course is only open for LUC The Hague students.

Contact information

Dr. Mia Swart.

Weekly Overview

Week 1
Seminar 1:
Theory of Democracy:
Models of Democracy:
Seminar 2:
Theory of Democracy:
The Problem with Democracy: A Critical View

Week 2:
Seminar 1:
Ethnic Conflict and Democracy: Africa
Seminar 2:
Ethnic Conflict and Democracy: the Balkans and Beyond

Week 3:
Seminar 1:
Constitutionalism as Mechanism of Promoting Democracy: Iraq
Seminar 2:
Constitutionalism as Mechanism of Promoting Democracy: South Africa

Week 4:
Seminar 1:
Transitions to Democracy: Principles and Mechanisms of Transitional Justice
Seminar 2:
Waging War to Create Democracy: US Imperialism

Week 5:
Seminar 1:
Social Media as Tool of Democratisation: The Arab Spring
Seminar 2:
Victims and Post-Conflict Justice

Week 6:
Seminar 1:
Guest Lecture (topic to be announced)
Seminar 2:
Shared Experiences and Comparative Perspectives from Conflict Regions

Week 7:
Seminar 1:
Seminar 2