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Redressing the democratic deficit in treaty law making: (Re-) establishing a role for Parliament

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  • Treaties are a significant source of law on a wide range of subjects, but traditionally do not become domestic law without national implementation. Nevertheless, the legal character of treaty rules does place pressure on a state's domestic institutions to ensure compliance. Given the influence of treaty law, several Commonwealth states provide a role for Parliament in treaty making even though at common law, the decision to make a treaty clearly rests with a government's executive branch. Such reforms to the treaty-making process attempt to address complaints that a \"democratic deficit\" exists, including an additional \"federal democratic deficit\" in federal states arising from the absence of a requirement for consultation between the central and regional bodies. A review of the experiences in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia leads to several suggested reforms to secure greater legislative scrutiny, enhance public awareness, and improve democratic accountability in the field of treaty making.

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  • Type of Item
    Article (Published)
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  • License
    © 2005 J. Harrington et al. This version of this article is open access and can be downloaded and shared. The original author(s) and source must be cited.
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  • Citation for previous publication
    • Harrington, J. (2005). Redressing the democratic deficit in treaty law making: (Re-) establishing a role for Parliament. McGill Law Journal, 50(3), 465-509. Retrieved from
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