[Translate to English:] Fahnen Netz

Democracy and International Organizations

If International Organizations are to be able to act in the long term and to solve pressing issues, they must be viewed as legitimate. We would like to better understand how and through which processes International Organizations (de)legitimize themselves. In doing so, we will create a basis for gaining a better understanding of both the factors influencing the legitimacy of International Organizations and the means available to boost this legitimacy.


More and more problems are either inherently global, such as climate change, or they can only be solved in a global effort, such as the economic and financial crises of recent years. International Organizations in which states agree on and coordinate their courses of action, such as the UN and the World Bank, are becoming increasingly important. At the same time, however, opposition among citizens is growing and some countries are even withdrawing from International Organizations. For international organizations to be capable of acting and solving problems in the long term, they must be regarded as legitimate. We would like to better understand how and through which processes they (de)legitimize themselves as well as what the means for improving this legitimacy are.

International Organizations are increasingly needed where individual nation-states reach their limits, such as in coping with global economic and financial crises, global migration issues and climate change. In the long term, however, International Organizations can only remain capable of taking action and making decisions if the people affected by their decisions perceive and accept them as legitimate. We would like to better understand the processes and mechanisms by which International Organizations (de)legitimize themselves. How transparent are the processes, and how attributable, binding and enforceable are the decisions? What determines how much legitimacy citizens assign to various International Organizations? What adjustments can be made to increase democratic legitimacy? Using expert interviews and surveys of public opinion, we would like to find answers to these and related questions so as to gain a better understanding of International Organizations as a new source of democratic legitimacy.