International Organizations (IOs) are becoming increasingly important but also contested actors in world politics. More than just diligent servants of their member state masters, many IOs nowadays wield a considerable amount of authority on their own. While often fulfilling important tasks and strengthening global governance, the more and more focal role of IOs has also led to their politicization. International institutions, and multilateralism more generally, have come under pressure from both nationalist governments and communitarian publics. It is in this broad field of tension that many current debates in international organization studies take place.
This seminar provides an overview of some of the most important ongoing discussions in the field. The first part of the course is devoted to big debates related to questions of power, legitimacy, design, and contestation in and of IOs. For example, we shall review the newest contributions to the debate on how legitimacy and legitimation matter for IOs or those on how overlap and competition between international institutions affects global governance. In the second part, we shift focus to debates on individual organizations. With a view to the study trip that completes the course (see below), we shall study contentious issues related to Geneva-based IOs such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), or the World Trade Organization (WTO).
- Abbott, Kenneth; Genschel, Philipp; Snidal, Duncan; Zangl, Bernhard (Eds.) (2014): International Organizations as Orchestrators. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Morse, Julia; Keohane, Robert O. (2014): Contested Multilateralism. In Review of International Organizations 9 (4), pp. 385–412.
- Zürn, Michael (2018): A Theory of Global Governance. Authority, Legitimacy, and Contestation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
To successfully complete the course, students need to write a take-home essay and orally defend it in an individual session with the instructor (online).
As part of the course, there will be a study trip to Geneva planned for 6-10 April 2021. Participation is mandatory and thus a requirement to pass the course. Only if Corona-related travel restrictions are still in place by that time, we will consider exemptions/alternatives.