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Forsk mänskliga rättigheter

New book chapter on democracy promotion in Swedish foreign aid

I’ve published a book chapter on the democracy-promotion aim in Swedish development aid policy. In the chapter, I analyze how Swedish policymakers have framed the aims and strategies of democracy promotion in ODA from the 1960s to the 2010s.

How did democracy promotion become a key goal of Sweden’s official development assistance (ODA)? Existing research has regarded comparatively high levels of ODA as a key indicator of Sweden’s foreign policy exceptionalism, supposedly rooted in domestic values of solidarity, democracy, and equality. However, such culturalist accounts of foreign policy exceptionalisms tend to mystify rather than clarify the influence of values. In this chapter, I seek to provide a different account of how values shape foreign policy, using the goal of democracy promotion through ODA as an illustrative case. While policy documents occasionally refer to unique Swedish experiences of democracy, I argue that the beliefs governing Swedish democracy promotion efforts rather result from contentious political processes and have been partly shaped by evolving international conjectures. Empirically, the paper analyzes how Swedish policymakers have framed the aims and strategies of democracy promotion in ODA from the 1960s to the 2010s.

The chapter and the book result from the multidisciplinary research project Nordic Branding, and are published open access.

Johan Karlsson Schaffer, 2021: “How Democracy Promotion Became a Key Aim of Sweden’s Development Aid Policy”, in Do-Gooders at the End of Aid: Scandinavian Humanitarianism in the Twenty-First Century, edited by Antoine de Bengy Puyvallée & Kristian Bjørkdahl, pp 143-170, Cambridge University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108772129.008

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