Democracy in International Organizations

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  • Title: Democracy in International Organizations: Arguments in Support of a Supranational Approach
  • Author(s): Susanna Cafaro
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Global Studies
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Global Studies
  • Keywords: International Organizations, Legitimacy, Accountability, Inclusiveness, Supranationality, Democracy
  • Volume: 12
  • Issue: 1
  • Year: 2017
  • ISSN: 2324-755X (Print)
  • ISSN: 2324-7568 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Cafaro, Susanna. 2017. "Democracy in International Organizations: Arguments in Support of a Supranational Approach." The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Global Studies 12 (1): 7-19. doi:10.18848/2324-755X/CGP/v12i01/7-19.
  • Extent: 12 pages


Public opinion’s demand for democracy at a global level has significantly increased in the last decade, due to the number of global challenges affecting humanity as a whole and the growing feeling of transnational interconnectedness generated by the internet. Unfortunately, international organizations are not (yet) equipped for democratic participation of individuals as they are basically intergovernmental. An institutional formula for global democracy doesn’t exist yet and has few chances to be invented, given the variety and complexity of organizations at international level. The supranational approach to democracy we suggest is grounded on a constructivist method: after deconstructing democracy in three basic components—legitimacy, accountability and inclusiveness—it is possible to reassemble them originally with the aim of their progressive strengthening. This method will make a realistic assessment of the level of democracy in international organizations easier and will help promoting institutional reforms in line with the expectations of democracy in the global civil society. A shift is suggested from the typical intergovernmental model towards a more supranational one—as improving legitimacy, accountability, and inclusiveness naturally implies an increasing relationship between individuals and international organizations. The existence of a direct correlation between the role of individuals (or if you prefer of a demos) and the level of democracy in a given organization will be explored.