Recent calls by scholars for more multi-stakeholder approaches to international cooperation are a welcome effort to make international politics more inclusive, however even these approaches sometimes ignore or downplay one very important stakeholder: ordinary citizens.
Public perceptions that multilateralism and global governance are dominated by elites, and therefore reflective of elite priorities, is one factor driving populism and political resentment around much of the globe. Unless this trend is reversed, international organizations will increasingly lose legitimacy, and people will increasingly lose faith that international cooperation can effectively address the problems they care about most.
To address this challenge, multilateral institutions need to make international cooperation more inclusive and people-focused. To do this, they should consider employing survey research and deliberative democracy. Scholars, researchers, and practitioners have demonstrated that both of these approaches can be effective means for amplifying and including public voices. This policy brief outlines a proposal for multilateral institutions such as the UN and G20 to incorporate survey research and public deliberation into their annual cycles, providing ordinary citizens with a more robust voice in multilateral conversations about key international issues.