The Global Commonwealth of Citizens: Toward Cosmopolitan Democracy

The Global Commonwealth of Citizens: Toward Cosmopolitan Democracy

The Global Commonwealth of Citizens: Toward Cosmopolitan Democracy

The Global Commonwealth of Citizens: Toward Cosmopolitan Democracy


The Global Commonwealth of Citizens critically examines the prospects for cosmopolitan democracy as a viable and humane response to the challenges of globalization. Arising after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the decisive affirmation of Western-style democracy, cosmopolitan democracy envisions a world politics in which democratic participation by citizens is not constrained by national borders, and where democracy spreads through dialogue and incentives, not coercion and war. This is an incisive and thought-provoking book by one of the world's leading proponents of cosmopolitan democracy.

Daniele Archibugi looks at all aspects of cosmopolitan democracy in theory and practice. Is democracy beyond nation-states feasible? Is it possible to inform global governance with democratic norms and values, and if so, how? Archibugi carefully answers questions like these and forcefully responds to skeptics and critics. He argues that democracy can be extended to the global political arena by strengthening and reforming existing international organizations and creating new ones, and he calls for dramatic changes in the foreign policies of nations to make them compatible with global public interests. Archibugi advocates giving voice to new global players such as social movements, cultural communities, and minorities. He proposes building institutional channels across borders to address common problems, and encourages democratic governance at the local, national, regional, and global levels.

The Global Commonwealth of Citizens is an accessible introduction to the subject that will be of interest to students and scholars in political science, international relations, international law, and human rights.


An American peace thinker, William Ladd, in 1840 published one of the last peace projects which flourished during the European Enlightenment. In his project, he called for the creation of an international congress comprising one ambassador for each state. He envisaged this international congress as a world legislative power that would lay down rules that were shared and respected by all. Ladd realized that such a congress would be insufficient without a judiciary power charged with interpreting the rules and settling disputes, so he also proposed to set up an international court of justice. In a project so explicitly based on the separation of powers that existed in his native America, Ladd could not avoid raising the question of executive power. According to him, executive power was neither conceivable nor probably even desirable and it was therefore necessary to rely on the intangible power of world public opinion, which he optimistically dubbed β€œthe Queen of the World.”

The idea that public opinion could be the queen of the world is today even more attractive than it was in the nineteenth century. As championed by numerous visionaries, many international organizations have been set up that are nowadays much more sophisticated than the

1. William Ladd, An Essay on a Congress of Nations for the Adjustment of
International Disputes without Resort to Arms (New York: Oxford University
Press, [1840] 1916), p. L.

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