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The democratic output legitimacy of international organizations

Jens Steffek

Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Global Governance from WZB Berlin Social Science Center

Abstract: In this article I discuss output legitimacy as a category of normative analysis of international organizations (IOs). I first take issue with the widespread view that output legitimacy is just a synonym for organizational effectiveness or efficiency, and unrelated to democracy. Against this view, I argue that output legitimacy has an important democratic dimension. The touchstone of 'democratic output legitimacy' is the extent to which systems of governance generate results that cater to the public interest. This notion of democratic output legitimacy is then applied to IOs. The ability of IOs to safeguard a transnational public interest hinges on i) their ability to keep powerful (state and non-state) actors in check; ii) the epistemic quality of their decision-making procedures; iii) their respect for human and civil rights. Attaining these qualities may require shielding IOs from the input dimension of the international political process. I warn that some strategies to improve the democratic input legitimacy of IOs may enhance the power of strong nations over weaker ones, and of well-organized industry lobbies over other interests.

Keywords: international organizations; legitimacy; democratic legitimacy; output legitimacy; internationale Organisationen; Legitimität; demokratische Legitimität; Output-Legitimität (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2014
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cdm
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Citations: View citations in EconPapers (3)

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