Jonathan Kuyper

Beyond gridlock in global governance: Democracy, politicization, and legitimacy

Global governance negotiations increasingly face gridlock. Attempts to overcome stalemate by involving fewer states - as exemplified by the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) - are also failing as these negotiations become more politicized. Through a comparative analysis of these negotiations, this project seeks to understand if, how, and in what ways democratic legitimacy is required to address politicization and overcome gridlock in global governance? Based on the view that authority requires legitimacy, the project draws upon deliberative democracy to assess these negotiations. It engages comparative analysis to analyze three aspects of each negotiation: intellectual property, environment, and investment. The cases employ document analysis and interview techniques to unpack who is included during negotiations, what arguments are employed for and against policy decisions, whether actors are properly represented by decision-makers, and how negotiations outcomes have unfolded. This assessment is linked to the politicization of negotiations to explain how increased authority requires commensurate levels of legitimacy. The project offers three major innovations. First it employs in-depth empirical data to inform normative analysis. Second it is the first comparative analysis of TTIP and TPP. Finally the cases help inform policy decisions about how gridlock in global governance negotiations can be overcome.
Final report
Purpose of the project and how it has developed during the project period:

The purpose of the project was to answer the following question: If, how, and in what ways is democratic legitimacy required to address politicization and overcome gridlock in global governance? This entailed three work packages: 1) a conceptual explication of the relationship between democracy, politicization, and global governance gridlock; 2) an empirical evaluation of the politicization of global governance (especially the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)); and 3) a normative evaluation of how democratic legitimacy might enhance the attainment of desirable forms of international cooperation.

At its core, these three questions guided the project, its scope, and its outputs in terms of research. The work packages (i.e. framework), theory (connecting politicization, democratic legitimacy, and global governance), methods (combined normative and qualitative analysis), and outputs (publications and policy outreach) were upheld.

There were three core developments throughout. First, the conceptual issues were sharpened to look at the ambivalent nature of politicization for democratic legitimacy in global governance (honing in on representation an intervening variable). Second, the empirical focus on investment clauses and environmental protection in global governance emerged as the most fruitful pathway forwards. This led to a narrower analysis of these issue areas, but a broader focus on bilateral relationships beyond TTIP and TPP. Third, this conceptual foundations and data collection led to more fine-grained normative analysis of the global governance of investment and climate politics showing individual efforts at deliberation matters for international outcomes.

A short description of how it was implemented:

The project began on 1 February 2017. At this stage, initial conceptual work package began. This entailed a large literature review of the work on politicization in global governance, as well as relationships to democratic theory. An initial workshop was help with international guests (see below). I presented resulting work at several conferences in 2017 and 2018, leading to a 2018 article in Moral Philosophy and Politics specifying this output. This conceptual development was followed up by publications with Prof Eva Erman concerning the conceptual foundations of democracy in global governance (see the publication list).

In 2018 and 2019, the project centered on empirical work. This entailed looking at how global governance authority had become politicized (level of/awareness about/mobilization toward/contestation against that authority). The work package was mainly concerned with data collection. Throughout 2018-2019, more than 60 semi-structured interviews were conducted with lawyers, government negotiators, and civil society actors. This included actors centrally involved in TTIP and TPP, as well as wider bilateral relationship of Free-Trade Agreements (FTAs) and Bilateral-Investment Treaties (BITs). The project also promised document analysis of government and civil society position papers on TTIP, TPP, and broader forms to FTAs/BITs. This was successfully completed, and indeed expanded, to complement the interview data. In this process, position papers for states and non-state actors were collected, coded, and analyzed with respect to views on TTIP/TPP.

By way of complement, in 2018 the project underwent a follow-up review. It was suggested that the conceptual framework changes were useful, and that hiring help for the empirical analysis would be important. As such, some project funding was used for this purpose. I collaborated with Tarald Laudal Berge (then a PhD candidate at the University of Oslo, now he has completed his doctorate) for the interviews. Dr Berge did a variety of interviews at multilateral meetings (such as UNCITRAL), while I undertook interviews in the field (Mexico, the USA, Singapore, and Australia). This ensured a spread of respondents. I also employed a research assistant at the suggestion of the evaluation committee. This individual undertook some of the interview transcription, as well as the collection and coding of government/civil society position papers. All data was housed locally on encrypted hard-drives as specified in the project description. This work has led to an initial publication in Global Justice: Theory Practice Rhetoric.

The final work package has built on these results. Its goal is to show how the politicization of global governance (or cooperation problems in general) can be mitigated through democratic decision-making. To show this, I published articles on the instrumental impacts of deliberation in the Journal of Public Deliberation (tying together work package 1 and 2), and co-authored a manuscript with Cambridge University Press on the empirical effects of deliberation in global governance (work package 3). I have also written a book chapter and working paper on how politicization of global governance impacts climate and investment (i.e. TTIP and TPP) negotiations. This work forms the basis of a wider book manuscript in development.

The project’s three most important results and contributions to the international research front and a discussion about this:

The project has generated several key results. First, conceptually, the project has demonstrated that the nature of representation in global governance can impact how politicization of authority is viewed by individuals. Given that global governance has become increasingly important in past years, understanding how representatives trigger politicization is key. This importance is shown by the efforts of ex-President Trump to politicize international trade, and the EU efforts to de-politicize international investment. Second, empirically, the project has collected original data from more than 60 interviewees involved in the global governance negotiations related to TTIP, TPP, and other FTAs/BITs (interview protocol is housed online, though anonymous). In addition, a dataset of non-state actors engaged in these processes has been captured. Finally, normatively, the project has advanced the state of the art of concerning how to view the legitimacy of global governance. This work has established that democratic legitimacy matters for overcoming of gridlock, as well as how actors think about their own role in tackling such problems.
All three aspects have resulted publications. This includes a co-authored monograph, myriad publications in top-journals, many working papers, a series of conference/workshop presentations, and policy outreach.

New research questions generated through the project:

Three new questions have emerged as most prominent. Conceptually, it is critical to ask: who actually holds the locus of international authority? Given the importance of ‘authority’ to definitions of ‘politicization’, undertaking this analysis is critical. Empirically, it is important to ask: how does individual agency matter for the legitimation or contestation of politicized international authority? Some individual negotiators/civil society actors hold entrepreneurial status in terms of legitimating or contesting politicized authority, while others do not. Normatively, it is important to ask: who should legitimate or contest international authority? It requires reflection on the conceptual and empirical findings, but it sheds light on when and how citizens should tackle democratic deficits in global governance.

The project’s international dimensions, such as contacts and material:

The project’s international dimension has three axes. First is the conceptual collaboration. I commenced this work by undertaking a literature review of authority, politicization, and global governance. Presenting this work at the University of Gothenburg aided it development. Additionally, working with Prof Eva Erman (Stockholm University) and Prof Maija Setälä (University of Turku) aided this step. Second is the empirical dimension. Collaboration with Dr. Berge, then a doctoral candidate at the University of Oslo, was key. We conducted interviews with a range of individuals. His networks and knowledge added to the potential pool of interview subjects for my project. Third is the analysis of materials. I have collaborated with colleagues in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Colombia, the US, and the UK to discuss results and to begin developing normative prescriptions for when global governance becomes politicized.

How the project team has disseminated the results to other researchers and groups outside the scientific community and discuss and explain how collaboration has taken place:

In terms of research dissemination, the project has taken three key steps. First, I have collaborated with colleagues on conceptual work. Most importantly, I held a full-day event in 2018 with Prof John Dryzek (University of Canberra), Prof Jan Aart Scholte (Gothenburg University), Prof John Erik Fossum (ARENA Center for EU Studies), and Dr Guri Rosén (ARENA Center for EU Studies) amongst others. Second, I have work with, and hired, researchers for empirical analysis. Finally, I have collaborated with Dr Berge on empirical and normative implications of the empirical findings. Outside the scientific community, I have undertaken three steps. First, I have published in Global Policy, a journal partly oriented toward practitioners. Second, the interview data collected in work package two was discussed by Dr Berge at UNCITRAL meetings. Finally, I have attending policy workshops. In Belfast, I was one of two key speakers on democratizing regional governance. In Germany, I was a keynote speaker at the Development and Peace Foundation on global governance. These events were largely attended by practitioners, showing the synthesis between the project and policy-engagement.
Publication list
The project began on the first of February, 2017. I only include here pieces published after that date. This also includes pieces under review (*) and working papers (**) as this research was carried out during the Project timeline. All articles are published open access either through the journal website directly (i.e. was published in an open access journal or payment was made to ensure open access) or housed directly in Cristin in which full post-press proofs are available freely.


Dryzek JS, Bowman Q, Kuyper JW, Pickering J, Sass J, & Stevenson H. 2019. Deliberative Global Governance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Kuyper JW, Moffitt B. 2020. Transnational Populism, Democracy, and Representation: Pitfalls and Potentialities. Global Justice: Theory Practice Rhetoric 12(02): 27-49.

Erman E, Kuyper JW. 2020. Global democracy and feasibility: A non-binary view. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 23(3): 311-31.

Kuyper JW, Wolkenstein F. 2019. Complementing and correcting representative institutions: When and how to use mini-publics. European Journal of Political Research 58(2): 656-75.

Kuyper JW. 2018. Democratic Legitimacy beyond the State: Politicization, Representation, and a Systemic Framework. Moral Philosophy and Politics 5(2): 281-303.

Kuyper JW. 2018. The instrumental value of deliberative democracy-or, do we have good reasons to be deliberative democrats?. Journal of Public Deliberation 14(1):1-35.

Kuyper JW, Schroeder H, Linnér B-O. 2018. The evolution of the UNFCCC. Annual Review of Environment and Resources 43: 343–68.

Kuyper JW, Linnér BO, Schroeder H. 2018. Non-state actors in hybrid global climate governance: justice, legitimacy, and effectiveness in a post-Paris era. WIREs Climate Change 9(1): 1–18.

Bäckstrand K, Kuyper JW. 2017. The democratic legitimacy of orchestration: the UNFCCC, non-state actors, and transnational climate governance. Environmental Politics 26(4): 764–88.

Bäckstrand K, Kuyper JW, Linnér B-O, Lövbrand E. 2017. Non-state actors in global climate governance: from Copenhagen to Paris and beyond. Environmental Politics 26(4): 561–79.

Kuyper JW, Bäckstrand K, Schroeder H. 2017. Institutional accountability of nonstate actors in the UNFCCC: Exit, voice, and loyalty. Review of Policy Research 34(1): 88-109.

Kuyper JW, Squatrito T. 2017. International courts and global democratic values: Participation, accountability, and justification. Review of International Studies 43(1): 152-76.

Kuyper JW. 2017. The means and ends of deliberative democracy: Rejoinder to Gunn. Critical Review 29(3): 328-50.

Book chapters

Erman E, Kuyper JW. 2020. Global democracy and feasibility. In: Legitimacy Beyond the State Normative and Conceptual Questions, edited by NP Adams, A Scherz, and C Schmelzle (London: Taylor & Francis).

Kuyper JW. 2020. Democratic Deficits. In: The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology, edited by G Ritzer and C Rojek (London: John Wiley & Sons).

Working papers

*Bäckstrand K, Kuyper JW, and Nasiritousi, N. Under review. From Collaboration to Contestation? Legitimacy and Effectiveness in the Post-Paris Action Agenda. Earth System Governance.

*Herne K, Kuyper JW, and Lappalainen O. Under review. Neutralizing power in sequential common-pool resources: Is deliberation better than mere communication for sustainability? Ecological Economics.

*Bäckstrand K, Kuyper JW. Under review. The Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action: Democratic Legitimacy, Orchestration, and the Role of International Secretariats. In: Still Managers of Global Change: Reassessing the Role and Influence of International Environmental Bureaucracies, edited by H Jorgens, N Kolleck, and M Well (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

*Kuyper JW. Under review. Input, throughput, and output legitimacy: How politicization matters for solving future problems? In: Democratic Institutions for Long-Term Governance, edited by M Setälä, S Kyllönen, and M MacKenzie (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

**Kuyper JW, Berge TL. Working paper. “An Archipelago of Arguments: Rhetorical Entrapment in International Investment Negotiations”.

**Kuyper JW. Working paper. “On collective action: Non-compliance, justification, and democratic legitimacy”.

Conference and workshop presentations (selected)

(March 2021) “Deliberation, Contestation, and the Legitimacy of International Investment Negotiations”, with Tarald Laudal Berge, University of Oslo. Oslo, Norway.

(January 2021) “An Archipelago of Arguments: Rhetorical Entrapment in International Investment Negotiations”, with Tarald Laudal Berge, University of Oslo. Oslo, Norway.

(November 2020) “Between input and output legitimacy: How politicization matters for solving future problems?”, Democratic Institutions for Long-Term Governance workshop. Invited presentation. Åbo/Turku, Finland.

(August 2020) “Sustainable Use of Common-Pool Resources Through Deliberation”, European Consortium on Political Research General Conference. Tackling Short-Termism Through Democratic Deliberation panel. Digital Workshop (due to Covid-19).

(May 2020) “Deliberative Global Governance”, Book roundtable. Queen’s University Belfast. Belfast, UK.

(February 2020) “On collective action: Non-compliance, justification, and democratic legitimacy”, University College Dublin. Invited presentation. Dublin, Ireland.

(June 2019) “Transnational Populism: Democracy, Representation, and the Problems of Claims-making”, Populism and Global Justice conference. European University Institute. Invited presentation. Florence, Italy.

(May 2019) “Gerrymandering and Deliberation”, University of Newcastle. Invited presentation. Newcastle, UK.

(March 2019) “Legitimacy and Effectiveness in Global Climate Governance”, International Studies Association annual conference. Toronto, Canada

(July 2018) “The Instrumental Value of Deliberative Democracy: Theoretical and Methodological Concerns”, Assessing Deliberation: A Methods Workshop. Canberra, Australia.

(March 2018) “Differentiated modes of Participation by Non-State Actors: Pre-2020 Action and the Paris Agreement”, International Studies Association. San Francisco, USA.

(November 2017) “The Means and Ends of Deliberative Democracy,” ARENA Conference on Expertise and Democracy. Oslo, Norway. (September 2017) “How and When to Use Mini-Publics,” European Consortium for Political Research – General Conference. Oslo, Norway.

(June 2017) “Democratic Legitimacy Beyond the State: Politicization, Representation, and a Systemic Framework,” Global Justice Meets Global Democracy workshop. Durham, UK.

(June 2017) “Counteracting failures of representative institutions: When and how to use minipublics,” Democratic Theory Beyond Deliberation: New Approaches to Representative Democracy workshop. Oxford, UK.

(June 2017) “Democratic Legitimacy Beyond the State: Politicization, Representation, and a Systemic Framework,” Universitat Pompeu Fabra, conferences on Global Democracy and Global Constitutionalism.

Barcelona, Spain. (April 2017) “Democratic Legitimacy in TTIP and TPP,” University of Gothenburg, seminar series in Practical Philosophy and Political Theory. Gothenburg, Sweden.

(March 2017) “Politicization of the EU authority,” University of Gothenburg, workshop on the Politicization and Parliamentarization of EU Affairs. Gothenburg, Sweden.

Popular science

(June 2019) “Democracy and the Public Engagement”, Improving Citizen Participation. Collaboration between the Belfast Council and The Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice, Queen’s University Belfast. Belfast, UK.

(September 2018) “Flexibility and International Agreements”, Goodbye to elitism: Anchoring global governance in societies workshop organized by Sef:. Duisburg, Germany. See link for policy report:

(2018) “Book Review - The Rise of Investor-State Arbitration: Politics, Law, and Unintended Consequences,” by Taylor St John, Global Policy. Available at:

(2018) “Book review – Critical Elitism: Deliberation, Democracy, and the Problem of Expertise,” By Alfred Moore, Global Policy. Available at:

(2017) “Book review – The Law of Deliberative Democracy,” by Ron Levy and Graeme Orr, Global Policy. Available at:

(2017) “Should Democracy go Global?” with JS Dryzek. Blog piece for the Earth Systems Governance Project. Available at:

University Website:
Cristin Website:
Grant administrator
Queen's University Belfast
Reference number
SEK 2,136,000.00
Globalization Studies