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Parliamentary Control of Military Missions

1 January, 2006



The paper proceeds as follows: after the introduction in Section 1, Section 2 introduces the sample of countries under consideration in this study. Moreover, it discusses several dimensions of parliamentary control and argues that the legal power to give prior approval of deployments is the most important one. Whereas a comprehensive portrait of deployment legislation is given in the appendix, Section 2 gives a brief overview of how deployment decisions are made in the countries under consideration.

Section 3 presents the state of the art of analysing parliamentary control of military missions.

Section 4 then presents five explanatory factors that can be considered to influence the level of parliamentary control.

i) According to a "locking-in" hypothesis, parliaments are likely to be powerful, if a country has only recently become a democracy because democratic politicians aim to limit future governments' room for manoeuvre in security and defence politics.

ii) Following the "lessons-learnt" hypothesis, a country is likely to have a powerful parliamentary control over the use of force if it previously suffered from a failed military mission.

iii)Furthermore, the "colonialism" hypothesis argues that countries may inherit a low level of parliamentary control over the use of force from a colonial past.

iv) The "type-of-democracy" hypothesis emphasises that parliament's competencies also depend on parliament's overall position within the political system.

v) Finally, the "internationalisation" hypothesis holds that a countrys level of parliamentary control decreases with the level of multinational integration of its armed forces. Possible ways to refine the hypotheses in order to improve their explanatory power are discussed, followed by a discussion of policy implications.