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The promotion of democracy is today a familiar feature of foreign policy, and an accepted part of the activities of international organizations. Should international law join in this move to promote democratic political arrangements? If so, on what basis, and with which of the many competing conceptions of democracy? Drawing on an eclectic range of source material, the author examines current debates about the emergence of an international legal 'norm of democratic governance', and considers how proposals for such a norm might be rearticulated to meet some of the concerns to which they give rise. She also uses these debates to illustrate some more general points about approaches to the study of international law. In doing so, she seeks to defend an approach to international legal scholarship that takes its cue from the tradition of ideology critique.