During the last decades International Organizations (IOs) have become ever more important actors in International Relations due to the end of Cold War bipolarity, the pressure of globalization and not least because of the decreasing capabilities of the nation state in many policy fields. The term “global governance” most prominently symbolizes the rise of IOs, who are perceived to be key structures in a strongly interdependent world logically to be organized beyond national borders.
However, many traditional IOs are at the same time experiencing political and organizational crisis. Politically, IOs are criticized for a their lack of democratic accountability, whilst many are also facing paralysis because of new divisions among their members. Organizationally, most IOs did not yet manage to enhance their autonomy vis-à-vis their member states and thus still have to cope with the same collective action-problems they faced at the time of their foundation. Moreover, it is a fact that the strong dynamics of a developing multipolar world order are putting increased pressure on traditional IOs, forcing them to defend or re-evaluate their mandate, search for new partners in order to enhance legitimacy and find new financial sources.
The seminar, working with a variety of cases (UN, NATO, OSCE, IMF, OECD etc.), aims to give an answer on three broad questions: First, what is the place of IOs in the study of International Relations today and which theories and concepts are most suitable to explain both the promises and limits of IOs as actors of world politics?; Second, what are the major debates dominating the current discourse about IOs, e.g. are they effective?, do they possess democratic legitimacy?, do they become more autonomous from their principals?; and how are IOs to be reformed?; Finally, which differences do we observe here between IOs active in policy fields such as security, economics, human rights etc. and what do they tell us about the feasibility of a major reform of International Organizations?
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