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The Subjects of Collectively Binding Decisions: Democratic Inclusion and Extraterritorial Law


  • Ludvig Beckman

    1. Department of Political Science, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
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    • I am very grateful for comments on earlier version of this paper from Thomas Christiano, Mats Lundström, David Owen, Johan Karlsson Schaffer and Patrick Taylor Smith and several other participants in the meeting of the Nordic Network in Polotical Theory, Stockholm, 28–30 October as well as in the Interdisciplinary Workshop on Authority Beyond States, Paris, 3–4 May 2012.


Citizenship and residency are basic conditions for political inclusion in a democracy. However, if democracy is premised on the inclusion of everyone subject to collectively binding decisions, the relevance of either citizenship or residency for recognition as a member of the polity is uncertain. The aim of this paper is to specify the conditions for being subject to collective decisions in the sense relevant to democratic theory. Three conceptions of what it means to be subject to collectively binding decisions are identified and examined, referring to those subject to legal duties and legal powers or to those subject to legal duties and state institutions. The contrast between them is most clearly illustrated in relation to non-residents, those not present in the territory of the state. The extraterritorial dimension of the law thus highlights a fundamental ambiguity in the theory of democracy concerning the extension of political rights.