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Title: The power of experts : why non-democracies create regional parliaments
Author: Mumford, Densua
ISNI:       0000 0004 7654 2025
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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Why do regional intergovernmental organisations composed of non-democratic member states create regional parliaments? In 2005, the League of Arab States established the Arab Parliament, a new legislative organ whose purpose is to represent the citizens of the member states of the Arab League. Since parliaments are the ultimate expression of democratic values, it is puzzling that states with some of the poorest record on political freedoms in the world would create them at the regional level while denying their citizens those same values at home. EU diffusion arguments, which are highly structuralist, ignore the role of agency and cannot account for persistent variation across different regions. Rational institutionalist theories struggle to explain this phenomenon because there is little evidence that regional parliaments lead to increased efficiency. This thesis contributes an original theoretical argument that emphasises the agency of experts in determining treaty drafting processes under conditions of weak member state preferences. I argue that democratisation via non-state experts leads to the creation of regional parliaments in non-democratic regions. When member states have no preferences about the drafting of a treaty, they delegate the task to experts and give them high levels of discretion. These experts, in turn, apply their professional beliefs rather than the preferences of the member states, leading to otherwise unlikely outcomes. Using process tracing of prominent African cases, I find that with the treaties of the African Economic Community (AEC) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), member states revealed weak preferences because the regional organisations were of a low priority. They delegated the making of the treaties to experts, particularly those from the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). Experts then defined the problems and solutions of the organisation according to their belief that the participation of the people via regional parliaments was necessary for successful economic development. In the Southern African Development Community (SADC), member states did not delegate the making of the treaty because the regional organisation was of a high priority. Subsequently, their non-democratic preferences determined that no parliament should be established in the SADC treaty. Instead, civil society was left to create an independent SADC Parliamentary Forum, which has no formal relationship with the regional organisation.
Supervisor: Milewicz, Karolina Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available