About us

Reasons & Aims

The aim of IDW will beto check the state of the art and the development of democracy in international institutions, both at regional and at world level, and to assess  the progress or regression of international democracy through a regular monitoring, whose results will be available on this site, and the editing of an International Democracy Report.  

The need to create an International Democracy Watchis linked to different elements:

  • the progressive reduction of the role and the influence of national States in the process of governing the economic and social globalization and the ensuing birth of a process of creating intergovernmental and supranational organisations both at the regional and the world level.
  • Many authors state that international institutions are affected by a "democratic deficit". And yet, a process of democratization of international institutions is going on. An increasing number of them, for example, has endowed itself with parliamentary assemblies, which represent the response of national parliaments to the globalization process and the erosion of their power. The European parliament is the first supranational parliament in history and represents the laboratory of a new statehood and of a new kind of democracy. It is directly elected, and its example has been followed by Parlacen (The Central American Parliament) and the Parliament of the Andean Community.
  • The creation and the growth of transnational civil society movements, whose principal aim is to foster global democracy, that is the check of the globalization process through the democratization of international institutions. 
  • This process of democratization is worth beeing studied and monitored. While institutes that check and monitor the growing and the spreading of democracy within nation-States already exist, no one exists performing similar activities with a focus on international relations and on international democracy.

Definition of international democracy

Defining democracy cannot avoid being exposed to different interpretations, even in its traditional context represented by the nation-state. Nevertheless, for our purposes we need an operational definition of “international democracy”.

Therefore, as a starting-point we will use the definition provided by Mathias Koenig-Archibugi[1], which will be further developed and suitably modified in order to be applied to regional, sub-regional and inter-regional organizations, in addition to the global ones. Here below we list the main features that an international institution should have to be defined an “international democracy”:

  1. It entrusts supranational institutions with the power to take binding decisions with reference to a given group of internationally relevant issues.
  2. It ensures that members of these institutions represent, and are accountable to citizens, through electoral mechanisms or through clear and formal political delegation relationships.
  3. It promotes the equitable representation of all citizens, linked to principles like the balanced representation of the constitutive territorial units and possibly some kinds of functional representation.
  4. It enables supranational institutions to make decisions in accordance with different decision-making procedures, but excluding veto rights for small minorities, unless legitimate vital interests are at stake.
  5. It entrusts supranational judiciary institutions with the task of settling disputes according to constitutional rules.
  6. It provides strong mechanisms to implement decisions and laws, possibly but not necessarily through a centralized control of coercion instruments.

This list will be extended to further features to get to a more comprehensive meaning of “international democracy”, e.g. women’s participation in institutions, protection of minorities, access to common goods, redistribution of resources, freedom of information and presence of cosmopolitan rights.

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