The Legitimacy of Multilateral Climate Governance: A Deliberative Democratic Approach

Hayley Stevenson, John Dryzek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


For almost three decades, the international community has grappled with the challenge of avoiding dangerous global climate change. The failure to produce a new comprehensive treaty in Copenhagen, in 2009, provoked debate about appropriate decision-making processes. Multilateralism has lost favor and credibility, while 'minilateralism' appears to be an idea whose time has come. Reconciling this approach with growing demands for legitimacy in global governance will be difficult but essential. Existing proposals for reforming multilateral negotiations promise greater effectiveness, but fall short on legitimacy. We propose that the dilemma of securing both effectiveness and legitimacy can be resolved in a deliberative democratic model that combines minilateralism with discursive representation. Legitimacy is therein sought in the resonance of collective decisions with public opinion, defined in terms of the provisional outcome of the engagement and contestation of discourses
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalCritical Policy Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


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