Sovereignty and Multilateralism
21 Pages Posted: 17 May 2017 Last revised: 3 Aug 2017
Date Written: 2000
Are multilateral institutions threats to sovereignty? This view — ascendant today — is often leveled but rarely explicated. In this essay I challenge some versions of this argument, and argue that the best approach is not to focus on particular types of international agreements or organizations, but rather on the processes by which they make decisions. In particular, two concepts — insularity and generativity — are significant. By generativity I mean the ability of international institutions to produce new substantive rules that modify or extend a given regime. By insularity I mean both the degree of transparency and of stakeholder participation in the international institution and its decisions. The more generative and insular the institution, the greater the challenge for democratic decision making.
Keywords: Sovereignty, multilateralism, stakeholder, international organization
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