Since the 1990s fundamental transformations of international organizations (IOs) such as the World Trade Organization and the African Union have taken place, witnessing a shift from interstate cooperation to the involvement of transnational actors (TNAs), such as non-governmental organizations and social movements.

This opening up of international organizations to transnational actors is widely seen as a welcome transformation in global politics, generating not only a broader and deeper collaboration but also a democratization of global governance through increased transparency, inclusion, and openness. However, apart from the agreement on its general desirability, we still know very little about why and how international organizations should involve transnational actors in global decision-making. Thus, while important contributions have been made in the empirical research in recent years in the form of systematic studies of where, how and why international organizations include transnational actors in decision-making, the same systematic attempt to answer the question of where, how and why international organizations should include transnational actors have not been made in political theory.

In light of the diversity of international organizations, with different functions and policy responsibilities, it seems likely that some international organizations should involve transnational actors in the decision-making to become more democratic (e.g. law- and policy-makers) while others should not (e.g. international courts). The aim of the project is to fill this gap in current research. The overall research question is threefold: Which international organizations ought to open up to transnational actors to become more democratic, how, and why? It will be addressed by completing three tasks: a conceptual analysis, a normative analysis, and an institutional evaluation of international organizations. The end product is a typology that maps out democratic requirements of different kinds of international organizations depending on their role in global politics.

Contact: Eva Erman.