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Cosmopolitan democracy is a project of normative political theory which explores the possibility to implement democracy on a global scale, either directly or through representatives. The supporters of cosmopolitan democracy include David Held[1], Daniele Archibugi[2],[3], Richard Falk[4], and Mary Kaldor[5]. In the Cosmopolitan Democracy model, decisions should be made by the citizens that are influenced by them, avoiding to have a single hierarchical form of authority. According to the nature of the issues at stake, democratic practice should be reinvented to take into account the will of stakeholders. This can be done either through direct participation or through elected representatives.[6] In a globalised world, argue the supporters of Cosmopolitan Democracy, any attempt to solve global problems would either be undemocratic or have to implement cosmopolitan democracy. Cosmopolitan democracy is different from the advocacy of world government since it does not advocate a centralized form of government, but a rather more flexible form of political organization where the individual units are committed to the rule of law also in absence of a coercive power of last resort.


Origin and Development

The victory of Western liberal states ending the Cold War inspired the hope that international relations could be guided by the ideals of democracy and the rule of law. In the early 1990s, a group of thinkers developed the political project of cosmopolitan democracy with the aim of providing intellectual arguments in favour of an expansion of democracy, both within states and at the global level. While some significant successes have been achieved in terms of democratization within states, much less has been attained in democratizing the global system.

In different forms, the necessity to expand democratic procedures beyond the nation-state has been supported by political philosopher Jürgen Habermas[7], and socioligist Ulrich Beck [8].

Criticisms of cosmopolitan democracy have come from realist, marxist, communitarian and multicultural perspectives. Democratic theorist Robert Dahl[9] has manifested his doubts about the possibility to expand significantly democracy in international organizations.

Political Programme

The idea of cosmopolitan democracy has been advocated with reference to the reform of international organizations. This include the institution of the International Criminal Court, the institution of a directly elected World Parliament and more widely the democratization of international organizations.


  1. ^ David Held, Democracy and the Global Order, Polity Press, Cambridge, 1995
  2. ^ Daniele Archibugi, The Global Commonwealth of Citizens. Toward Cosmopolitan Democracy, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2008
  3. ^ Daniele Archibugi & David Held, eds., Cosmopolitan Democracy. An Agenda for a New World Order, Polity Press, Cambridge, 1995
  4. ^ Richard Falk, On Humane Governance, Polity Press, Cambridge, 1998
  5. ^ Mary Kaldor, New and Old Wars, Polity Press, Cambridge, 1999
  6. ^ Article on Cosmopolitan democracy by Daniele Archibugi
  7. ^ Jürgen Habermas, The Post-National Constellation, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2001
  8. ^ Ulrich Beck, World Risk Society, Polity Press, Cambridge, 1999
  9. ^ Robert Dahl, Can International Organizations be Democratic?, in Ian Shapiro and Casiano Hacker-Cordón (eds) (1999) Democracy’s Edges. New York: Cambridge University Press.

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