Here's further discussion of an interesting idea from Ivo Daalder and James Lindsay. The basic idea is the development of a "Concert of Democracies" as an eventual replacement, or at least side organization, to the UN and the UN's problem of universalism over effectiveness. By their count, the authors estimate that this would entail about 60 countries working together on trade, security issues, and so on.
No analysis here for now, but I'll raise what I think are two large problems:
First, as the authors point out, deciding who counts as a democracy and who doesn't would be a complex debate in itself. The authors suggest a few criteria for counting as one of the select few, based on free and fair elections, political and civil rights, and so on. But at a time when some countries and many scholars are rethinking the very notion of democracy, especially given its aggregative form's problems in hallmark countries such as the US itself, defining democracy from the standard Western norm is an act of perhaps unwarranted exclusion.
Second, how would the consortium function internally? The authors have little to say about this, except that it would be an alternative model to the UN in that it would contain a smaller number of countries. But this question matters. If, for instance, the US would have more power or votes or whatever than other members (which could very well be a condition of its entry into such an organization), would the Concert itself be a democracy? One would, I hope, seek an equitable deliberative democratic framework and deliberative processes internal to the organization in making policy decisions. This could lead to more reasonable and reflective global policies. And this could boost the organization's legitimacy. There are at least two corollary problems here however:
On one hand, the products of a set of processes and functions based on deliberation could look very different than the objectives citizens of the individual democratic countries may want the Concert to achieve. In other words, the individual representatives of member nations may not be representative of their own citizens' concerns. Of course, we could always say that the citizens are wrong. But then we return to the alleged paternalism of the UN system.
On the other hand, many of the large democracies are democratic at home but not when it comes to international affairs. The US often functions in this way. Daalder and Lindsay suggest that the Concert would temper powerful member states' tendencies to go it alone. But how? After all, is it really the case that non-democratic nations of the UN wield such power that they can determine the policy directions the UN takes? Isn't it, rather, that the powerful nations do so, including and perhaps especially the US? Then why would the US seek to enter into a Concert in which it no longer wields such power? After all, with the current president international law and international organizations have represented obstacles to American foreign policy objectives, and even, as Michael Cherthoff said recently, a "threat."