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IP 21 (Phase I): Legitimacy and democracy in multilateral integration

Whether international institutions such as the EU, the WTO, or the UN are in need of legitimacy and democratization, and how to eventually conceive such democratization at the supranational level, are both central questions, if not the central questions, in contemporary world politics. The project seeks to establish a framework and basic principles for the ideal-type of multilateral integration starting from the assumption that the elements of national democracy cannot be simply applied to supranational democracy. Rather, the transposition of democracy to the multilateral realm requires new types of institutional arrangements.

The first phase of the project established a theory of an ideal-type of multilateral democratic integration, characterized as a complex system of cooperation with an exclusively democratic membership structure and the claim to democratic decision-making on all levels. The principles established for this ideal-type were applied to the EU in an assessment of its institutional achievements, its deficits, and its potential for further democratization.

In the second phase, the project established which parts of the ideal theory could be extended to a non-ideal of multilateral integration, characterized by a mixed (democratic and non-democratic) membership structure and by the commitment to principles of economic liberalization. This framework was then applied to an assessment of the democratic potential of the WTO.

The project’s goal is to give guidance regarding the concepts and rules for the further development of a legitimate and democratic multilateral process at large.

More information on the project:

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Project leader:
Prof. Francis Cheneval, University of Zurich

Ph.D. student:
Lena Schneller, University of Zurich