19 Jun 2013
The democratizing effects of multilateral organizations: a cautionary note on the WTO
by Manfred Elsig, World Trade Institute University of Bern
The field of international relations has been obsessed with democracy
and democratization and its effects on international cooperation for a long time.
More recently, research has turned its focus on how international organizations
enhance democracy. This article contributes to this debate and applies a prominent liberal framework to study the ‘outside-in’ effects of the World Trade
Organization. The article offers a critical reading of democratization through IO
membership. It provides for an assessment of the dominant framework put
forward by Keohane et al. (2009). In doing so, it develops a set of empirical
strategies to test conjectured causal mechanisms with respect to the WTO, and
illustrates the potential application by drawing on selected empirical evidence
from trade politics. Finally, it proposes a number of analytical revisions to the
liberal framework and outlines avenues for future research.