A Multidisciplinary Analysis
Leuven Global Governance series
Edited by Jan Wouters, Antoon Braekman, Matthias Lievens and Emilie Bécault
Chapter 3: The value of the ideal of democracy in global governance
It is only very recently that the ideal of democracy has come to play an important role in debates about international relations and international law. Previously, democracy was thought to be an ideal that could only guide normative inquiries into the internal legitimacy of states, and other ideals were thought to be more important for the external legitimacy of states. The external legitimacy of states, or their legitimacy vis-à-vis other states and vis-à-vis citizens and organizations of other states, was thought to be subject only to ideals such as peace, stability, the rule of law or, more recently, justice – and not to democracy. This chapter will attempt to give an overview of what is thought to be normatively at stake when the ideal of democracy is applied to the external legitimacy of states. It will also argue that using the concept of democracy helps to elucidate instead of obscure an already difficult debate. Importantly, the position taken here implies that it is possible to speak about international matters as more or less democratic and not only as more or less legitimate, just, stable or predictable. The chapter will furthermore offer some guidance on which kind of international arrangements are more or less democratic at this particular moment in time.
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