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Globalizing Democracy and Democratizing Globalization


Many attempts to make democracy a universally acceptable concept across the globe have been made. On the one hand, some states in the world believe that the process will have positive implications for the achievement of universal goals. On the other hand, it has been viewed as an undemocratic process by those who believe that it is there to exploit rather than to assist (Gilbert, 1990). Most of the challenges experienced are a result of the differences in the approach to certain issues such as the economic systems. This essay looks at impacts of globalization of democracy and democratization of globalization in the world by analyzing the two concepts. It uses the European Union’s policies that are normally used to implement democracy and globalization, especially in Africa. The paper examines the impacts that these policies have on Africa.

Although the powerful and the most developed countries continue to promote the globalised systems of governance, many obstacles need to be dealt with to achieve these international goals. The developed nations continue to use the traditional paradigms of international relations to get profits from the least developed nations. These outdated approaches result in a failure of the policies that are meant to assist all regions of the world. More so, the developing regions, for instance Africa, are severely affected when such incompatible policies are being incorporated in their development agenda. The new impetus developed in the post-cold war era requires a new political order for the universal economic liberalism to be attained (Cox, 1996). It is worth to note that the responsibility for attainment of the expected results lies in the nation itself. The policies developed by the European Union tend to be skewed in favor of the European nations. Therefore, in general, they mar the African development.

The main aim of globalizing democracy was to achieve democracy and its positive values at a global level (Bretherton & Vogler, 1999). However, there remains a big gap between what the concept’s proponents hoped to achieve and what they have attained in reality over the years. Despite many positive effects of globalizing democracy, the ideology proved to have many setbacks, which is being spearheaded by major world bodies such as the European Union, the United Nations, and other international organizations (Paulsen, 2006). A major question that still lingers in the minds of people all over the world is “where will globalizing democracy ideology eventually lead the world and how beneficial will it be to specific countries?” (especially countries where other governance ideologies have existed over a long period) (Braizat, 2000).

There has been a perception that the great powers will continue to dominate the world’s political and economic arena due to the fact that they have the best tools to achieve their national interests. These tools include developed military power, efficient economic systems and the surplus resources. This means that they are able to increase their bargaining power at the world stage. This creates a false impression among the developing regions of the world, especially regions like Africa (Cox, 1996). There is still the need to develop a new system that will be void of neo-colonialism and imperialism. All nations must equally share the responsibility of maintaining the globalized systems of the world. Otherwise, if the majority, that is the less developed nations, is excluded from participating in the international development agenda, there will be many difficulties, which will complicate the achievement of the international objectives.

Many first world countries have been championing globalization and democracy in the world. They encourage other countries to adopt democracy as a form of governance. They also advocate for democratization of globalization. They encourage other countries to concentrate mainly on production and marketing of those products that each country has a comparative advantage in. In a way, due to this, many third world countries remain poor as a result of dependence on agricultural based, unprocessed products which they export to the first world countries. In order to gain more influence in the global arena, both in trade and other sectors, countries have joined together into regional blocks which promote the member countries’ views and interests at the global level. Such regional blocks adopt policies which they use to influence trade, governance, social values, and other aspects of the society. The European Union is an example of such a regional block that has been championing for democracy and globalization among the third world countries. It makes policies which influence development and even social life of the member countries and of other non member countries with which it relates. Africa is one of the main regions to which the European Union has applied its economic, social and political policies on democracy and globalization. These policies have had both positive and negative impacts on Africa.

Effects of EU policies (local and foreign) on Africa

EU is a unique and complex union that is believed to be more powerful than any other international organization. EU has less beaurocratic power. In addition, it can be described as a regulatory body (Gilbert, 1990). It uses authoritative tools to enforce certain policies aimed at achieving its objectives.

Positive effects of European Union’s Policies on Africa

The European Union’s policies have resulted into several benefits in Africa. This is evident in the economic, social-cultural, political, educational, religious, sports and other sectors and aspects of life in African countries. The policies’ success and benefits in Africa are manifested in the following ways:

Good Governance

In order for the European Union to engage in business with African countries or fund development projects or activities, it should focus on some key preconditions which the African country has to meet. Good governance is one of the key preconditions stressed by the European Union. For example, the EU-Africa-Strategy (2005) clearly stipulates conditions necessary to be fulfilled by any African nation that wishes to get support from the Union. Good governance is one of the aspects highlighted. These conditions set by the EU have helped achieve good governance in some African states, which originally had bad governance but changed due to the need for European Union’s support.

Job Creation

The European policies have helped create jobs for Africans both locally in Africa and in Europe. Policies that allow free movement of people into and out of the European countries have helped many Africans wishing to work in Europe gain access to European countries and realize their dreams of working in Europe. This has in effect allowed such people earn higher incomes in Europe, which they use to support themselves and their families in Africa, and also they greatly contribute to the net income of their specific home country. The European Union has also encouraged job creation in specific African countries where it funds development projects, which reduces the unemployment rate in Africa.

Social Cultural Interactions

The European Union encourages member countries to visit African countries as good tourist destinations. However, member countries are only advised to visit those countries that meet the Union’s conditions. Through promoting tourism of Europeans to Africa and of Africans to Europe, the European Union has greatly contributed towards social-cultural interactions in the world. Through its policy, the European Union promotes cultural tolerance in Europe. It aims to achieve appreciation of cultural and racial diversity in Europe. This way, it has encouraged movement of people into the EU member countries (Kpundeh, 1992). As a result, this has led to more social-cultural interactions between Africans and Europeans.

Religious Globalization

Through efforts of globalizing democratization and democratizing globalization, the European Union and its member countries have managed to ensure religious tolerance between people of different religions. This is because the democracy ideology which the European Union spearheads is strongly anchored on human rights and freedoms. Freedom of worship is one of the key freedoms advocated for by the EU through the democracy ideology. The right to choose whichever religion one wishes to practice is also one of the rights enshrined in democracy.

Economic Globalization and Democratization

Over the years, the EU has advocated and encouraged trade among European nations, African countries, and the world at large. In Africa, it has emphasized on trading with only those countries that respect democracy and uphold the key values and principles of democracy. There is a high level of trade between African countries and the EU member countries. In order to control the trade and advance the ideologies of globalizing democracy and democratizing globalization, the European Unions have certain policies on trade that ensure their Union’s goals are completely met. For example, the Africa-Strategy of the European Commission (KOM 2005 489) stresses on the importance of a socio-economical environment favoring the democracy (Mohamoud, 2003).The strategy emphasizes on the creation of a socio-economic environment in which democracy and its values are respected. It encourages European nations to engage in socio-economic activities and projects that promote economic development and social development, while at the same time spreading democracy within the African countries. In order to achieve this, the European Union and its member countries are supposed to set conditions in any Trade or Social development agreement or contract that will help realize democracy in the partner African countries.

Through the European Trade policy, the European Union has managed to spread democracy ideology while at the same time democratize globalization. The trade policy is meant to encourage international trade between the EU member countries and other countries in the world, especially African countries. Through this policy, the EU has a potentially high influence on the macro-economic situation of its trade partners, particularly if these trade partners conduct the major part of their trade with the EU (Paulsen, 2007). For example, in the case of sub-Saharan African countries, trade might be “the most important policy in the scope of responsibilities of the European Union which is having influence on developing countries". The absolute position of power of the EC in trade is often strengthened by the relatively weak position of the trade partners in Africa (Paulsen, 2007). The EU trade relations with any African country account for only a small fraction of its entire external trade. However, for most African countries, trade with the EU has a very high importance, in some cases constituting more than 50% of such countries’ external trade. This dependence on the European market gives EU and the European Commission a position of power over their trade partner African states. Outgoing from this position of power, the EU or the European Commission set certain conditions such as human rights and democracy observance in the African countries. The African countries have to meet such conditions for them to trade with the European Union and its member countries. This way, the European Union propagates democracy.

Negative Effects of the European Unions’ Policies on Africa

In globalizing democracy and democratizing globalization, the European Union employs the use of conditional policies. Such policies, as seen in the discourse above, entail certain conditions, which have to be met by any African country interested in doing business with the European Union (Galbraith, 2000). The European Union sets such conditions from a position of power over poor African states, which to a great extent depends on the European market for sale of their unprocessed goods and products, knowing that such countries, due to their poverty state, have almost no other option but to follow whatever the EU wishes. Therefore, despite the European Union’s intention of spreading democracy in the world and democratizing globalization, in the long run, the *Union is a destructive force to the very ideologies it embraces and tries to spread in Africa and in the world at large (Lodge, 1995). In many ways, the European Union has failed to help Africa and the people of Africa through its conditional policies advanced in the continent. The negative effects of the European Union’s policies in Africa are discussed below.

Undemocratic Trade Policy

The European Union, outgoing from its position of power, sets conditions in its trade policies without even consulting the affected African countries. It does this in a dictatorial manner, knowing that the African countries, due to their dependence on the European market, have little power to object to whatever condition the European Union sets. This practice of the European Union and European Council is very undemocratic. It goes against the very ideology of democracy the Union and the Commission stands for and spread (Held et al., 1999). The European Trade Policy, for example, imposes certain conditions, which have to be met by any African country for such a country to engage in business with any European country that is a member of the European Union. Though the conditions are good themselves, the undemocratic way in which they are set and imposed on African countries make the treaty unfair and undemocratic. This, to a great extent, it is a big blow against globalization of democracy in the long run (Carr, 1968).

Unfairness in International Trade between Europe and Africa

The European Union has over the years advanced trade policies that favor European countries to the detriment of African countries and their economies. One such unfair policy is the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the European Union. This policy aims at reducing the risk of the European farmers. It ensures price stabilization for European farmers’ products. The complex mechanism of price management protects the prices inside the Union by high tariffs on imported agricultural products (Paulsen, 2007). Most African countries’ economies depend on agriculture. When such countries’ agricultural products are charged high tariffs, it leads to reduced income for the country and its farmers. On the other hand, the European farmers are given unfair competitive advantage by the Common Agricultural policy, which imposes low tariffs on their farm products. This, therefore, makes the policy unfair, and the fact that such a policy is made by the European Union, a body that advocates for fairness and democracy, only shows what level of hypocrisy the EU has and how negatively it is acting against the realization of economic globalization and democracy. Despite Sub-Saharan African countries having a competitive advantage in agricultural products, the countries are unable to gain from such an advantage because of the European Union policies which make the European markets inaccessible. For example, level and structure tariffs developed by the EU impose high tariffs on imported agricultural goods and other imported unprocessed goods, while assigning low tariffs on local unprocessed and industrial products and goods that require high technological processes. This, therefore, ends up eliminating the comparative advantage initially enjoyed by the African countries in agricultural products. This way, the EU locks itself off from agricultural imports by impeding the competitiveness through tariffs (Paulsen, 2007). At the same time the EU limits the competitiveness of other countries by selling highly subsidized products on the world market.


The European Union is perceived as a vehicle for neo-colonialism in African countries. Most of the European Union’s member states once colonized a state or several states in Africa. However, after these states attained independence, the European nations lost their sovereignty over them. These nations, through the European Union, have been able to interfere with the sovereignty of the African countries by imposing various conditions upon them through the European Union’s policies (Hopkins, 2004). At times, these conditions go against the values of the African society, but due to the need for financial aid from Europe and a share of the European market for the African products, many African countries end up conforming to the European Union’s conditions. For example, the condition in regard to respect for gay marriages and gayism attached to policies promoting development in Africa by some of the EU member states, such as the United Kingdom, has led to conformity by some African nations despite the fact that such ideologies go against such countries’ beliefs and values.

Overdependence on Europe by African countries

The notion of comparative advantage advocated for by globalization has to a large extent made African countries lack behind in industrialization and technological advancements (Todd, 2000). This is because, going by this notion or ideology, countries are advised to concentrate on production and sale of those products in which they have a comparative advantage. This has made Africa depend on agriculture and export of unprocessed products into Europe, which fetches little money in comparison to processed agricultural products and industrial products that European countries concentrate on in their economies. This has led to dependence on the European market and financial aid from European countries and the EU by the African countries. Unlike the African states, European countries have engaged in and promoted the development of some weak production areas in the economy (Mohamoud, 2003). This has seen some of the European countries such as Italy develop their weak sectors such as agriculture, which, therefore, makes them not very dependent on imported agricultural products. If African countries were to do the same and not entirely believe in just production of goods that they have a comparative advantage in, they would develop faster and level of dependence on European Union and its member states for financial aid would reduce. They would also be able to diversify their market.

 Negative effects of recession in one country on other countries

Globalization has led to creation of a global village. Economic globalization has led to dependence between different countries’ economies. Due to this aspect, changes in one country’s economy affect the economy of other countries in the world. This is especially the case for African countries whose economy highly depends on the European market that is under the control of the European Union. For example, during the times of economic problems in Europe, such as the period between 2006 and 2008, countries that highly depended on Europe were affected very negatively in that market for their products greatly reduced. One of the continents that was highly affected by this is Africa since European countries form the major market for the region’s products.

Moral Decadence

Democratizing globalization in African countries has led to an intrusion of foreign teachings, practices and values into African cultures and values. This has led to deterioration of the traditional culture and values of the African people. This has especially affected people in the urban areas who are more open to globalization and democracy (Markoff, 1999). Globalization avenues such as the internet and uncensored television stations have exposed Africans to so much information and things that have either directly or indirectly changed the way such people perceive things. This has led to development of a pseudo global culture that makes people lose traditional culture and values of their specific society.

Brain Drain into Europe

The favorable European Union migration policy has led to brain drain from Africa into European Union’s member countries. The migration policy allows qualified Africans to entry into Europe where such Africans work and reside (Held et al., 1997). These people, who are normally professionals, skilled labor or students in higher learning institutions, end up living and working in the specific countries they go to, therefore benefiting these countries more than their motherland.

How the European Union can gainfully impact on Africa with its (local and foreign) policies

In order for the European Union to gainfully impact on Africa with its policies, the Union ought to embrace the very values of democracy it spreads. It should make its policies fair to both the European Union’s member countries and the African countries. In order to achieve this, a consultative approach should be followed in developing EU policies, whereby the key stakeholders such as African countries, EU member countries, European Council, and other relevant bodies should be consulted (Cox, 1996).

The European Union should also observe democracy in the creation of its policies. The policies should respect other countries’ sovereignty and values and not just impose their conditions irrespective of such countries’ cultures and ideologies (Anderson, 2002).

In order to globalize democracy, the European Union should use approaches that make people want to embrace democratic values rather than accepting such values just because they are imposed by economic policies. In addition, globalizing democracy requires that every state adheres to the laid out norms of the international community. Democratic principles laid out by the international bodies such as the United Nations require a fair representation of every respective member state. The same should apply to the policies laid out by the European Union, especially those relating to Africa. The effects that such policies have on Africa should be carefully considered and analyzed.


In conclusion, it is evident that the EU has made many positive steps in globalizing democracy and democratizing globalization in Africa through its policies (Bertow & Schultheis, 2007). However, as seen above, the negative effects of these policies on African countries have made Africa less off rather than helped it.  However, with a good democratic and participatory approach to the development of the European Union’s policy, it is possible to counteract the negative effects that former policies have had on Africa and strengthen their positive effects. This will help realize globalization of democracy and democratization of globalization in Africa.

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