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Kreuder-Sonnen, Christian and Zangl, Bernhard (2015): Which post-Westphalia? International organizations between constitutionalism and authoritarianism. In: European Journal of International Relations (EJIR), Vol. 21, No. 3: pp. 568-594 [PDF, 324kB]


The most recent transformation of world order is often depicted as a shift from a Westphalian to a post-Westphalian era in which international organizations are becoming increasingly independent sites of authority. This internationalization of authority is often considered as an indication of the constitutionalization of the global legal order. However, this article highlights that international organizations can also exercise authority in an authoritarian fashion that violates the same constitutionalist principles of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law that international organizations are usually expected to promote. It is thus an open question which post-Westphalia we are in fact heading to: a constitutionalized order, an authoritarian order, or a combination of both? Based on a conceptualization of post-Westphalian orders as a two-dimensional continuum linking the ideal-typical end points of constitutionalism and authoritarianism, we analyze the United Nations security system and the European Union economic system as two post-Westphalian orders. While we find a remarkable level of constitutionalization in the European Union and incipient constitutionalist tendencies in the United Nations, we also find authoritarian sub-orders in both institutions. Most visibly, the latter can be discerned in the United Nations Security Council’s counter-terrorism policy after 9/11 and European emergency governance during the sovereign debt crisis. The article thus argues that the emerging post-Westphalian order is characterized by a plurality of fundamentally contradictory (sub-)orders coexisting in parallel.

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