WPS 2013-05: Democratizing Courts: How National and International Courts are Promoting Democracy in an Era of Global Governance

Eyal Benvenisti & George W. Downs

It is widely acknowledged that under contemporary conditions of global interdependence, domestic democratic institutions have grown increasingly unresponsive to the preferences of many of their traditional domestic stakeholders. In addition, these institutions are also failing to systematically consider the interests of foreign stakeholders who are increasingly affected by them. International Organizations (IOs) are poorly designed to address the resulting democratic deficits at the national level because they tend to be dominated by the internal politics of a handful of powerful states. In this article we argue that democratic failures at both the national and the international level can be best addressed through greater interaction and coordination between national courts and international tribunals. Such cooperation promises to enhance democracy at both levels by helping to ensure that decision makers take account of the interests of a greater proportion of the relevant stakeholders and that the outcomes are therefore better  informed and more balanced. We further argue that “democracy” in this context must be understood as providing a voice to foreigners, who are often excluded from domestic and global decision-making processes.

Global Checks and Democracy WPS 5-13