The sheer amount of non-state participation in the creation of the World Bank Environmental and Social Framework (ESF) is surely noteworthy. The aim of the Bank’s consultation was to get ‘global’ input and feedback, and with over 8,000 stakeholders from over 63 countries taking part, it is laudable. The extent of the participation challenges the positivist approach to international law-making, which views only states as having the power to make law and raises questions about how to legitimize such international soft-law making. Legitimacy is entangled with democracy, as scholars debate whether democracy is the required benchmark for decision-making processes at international organizations. This article uses deliberative democracy to analyse the ESF consultation process. Whilst, democratic legitimacy has been interpreted to mean inclusivity and participation, deliberative democracy raises a series of hard questions about equality and power that scholarship on global governance needs to grapple with. Although this participatory process at the World Bank challenges traditional narratives in international law, analysing it through a lens of deliberative democracy exposes the work that still needs to be done to discuss democracy in international decision-making.