Democratic Models for International Environmental Institutions: Challenges, Taxonomies, and Citizen Advisory Groups
UNITAR/Yale Conference on Environmental Governance and Democracy
16 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2008
Date Written: June 23, 2008
This discussion paper was prepared for the May 2008 UNITAR/Yale Conference on Environmental Governance and Democracy and presented to a panel on public participation in international environmental governance. It examines efforts to engage non-state actors more fully in the work of international environmental institutions as a means of making those institutions more responsive to the broader constituencies that they, and their states parties, serve. The paper is concerned not simply with non-state actors as collaborators who support institutional goals and implement institutional projects, but as meaningful participants in deliberative decision-making processes traditionally reserved to states. The paper describes practices of international institutions drawing on data gathered from recent global, European and Inter-American experiences. It offers a basic taxonomy of access mechanisms on the basis of these data and outlines some of the questions researchers might ask as they examine whether these approaches serve to make international institutions more democratic. The paper also highlights one emerging access mechanism - citizen advisory groups - that may hold particular promise. It suggests that this alternative may be one key to building democratic mechanisms in the international context by engaging citizens in direct dialogue about environmental decisions rather than leaving them as passive observers. The paper outlines potential opportunities and challenges of citizen advisory groups, and poses questions which might be asked where citizen advisors are engaged as access points to international institutions.
Keywords: Democracy, Public Participation, Access, International Environmental Law, International Institutions
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