Between Human Rights and Non-Proliferation: Norm Competition in the EU’s Iran Policy

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The European Union has been a prominent player in the negotiations with Iran since the beginning of the Iranian nuclear crisis in 2002. However, the Union's Iran policy cannot be reduced to the field of nuclear non-proliferation. Most notably, in the last 20 years it has also promoted human rights and democracy in the country. In other words, the European Iran policy has been a multilayered policy aimed at the diffusion of different kinds of norms. This article examines the consequences of the European Union promoting simultaneously norms from the realms of good governance and international security, in particular regarding the implications for the ever-present characterization of the European Union as a 'normative power'. It focuses especially on the different mechanisms and instruments the Union uses in its norm promotion efforts. In contrast to existing studies on Normative Power Europe, it concludes that in practice the Union faces a dilemma: it can either try to promote coherently all the norms it represents and pay the price in terms of foreign policy effectiveness; or it can try to focus effectively on a single norm and become vulnerable to accusations of double standards.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-91
Number of pages15
JournalUNISCI Discussion Papers
Issue number30
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012


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