This article examines the way in which we should make sense of, and respond to, the democratic deficit that results from global governance through international law following the partial collapse of the Westphalian political settlement. The objective is to evaluate the possibilities of applying the idea of deliberative (‘democratic’) legitimacy to the various and diverse systems of law. The model developed at the level of the state is imperfectly applied to the inter-state system and the legislative activities of non-state actors. Further, regulation by non-state actors through international law implies the exercise of legitimate authority, which depends on the introduction of democratic procedures to determine the right reasons that apply to subjects of authority regimes. In the absence of legitimate authority, non-state actors cannot legislate international law norms. The article concludes with some observations on the problems for the practice of democracy in the counterfactual ideal circumstances in which a plurality of legal systems legislate conflicting democratic law norms and the implications of the analysis for the regulation of world society.