IILJ Working Paper 2007/4 (Global Administrative Law Series)

“Democracy-Enhancing Multilateralism”

Robert O. Keohane, Stephen Macedo & Andrew Moravcsik

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This paper argues that involvement with multilateral institutions can improve the working of democracy at home. Constitutional democracy includes institutional strategies designed to limit the power of special interests, protect individual and minority rights, and promote collective deliberation. Applying these three standards, we find that the democratic performance of well-established democracies can be improved by their involvement with multilateral institutions and networks. Trade institutions promote policies more favorable to diffuse publics as opposed to special interests. Human rights treaties and courts help to protect individual and minority rights. Multilateral institutions dealing with environmental and economic policies promote improved collective deliberation. The Madisonian strategy of moving governance up to a higher level to improve collective self-government often works at the level of multilateral institutions. Well-designed multilateral institutions can enhance the quality of democracy at home, but of course many actual multilateral institutions do not have this effect.