Delegating powers to new international institutions

by Avi Bell

Having done no empirical work on the subject whatsoever, I have no idea whether there are any real world cases that fit this theory. However, at least in theory, one plausible reason for empowering new institutions is to dissipate accountability and thereby centralize, rather than dissipate power. This, for example, is the reason that politicians frequently empower “blue ribbon” commissions after disasters to examine what went wrong and make recommendations in the form of a quasi-judicial ruling. Off-hand, it would seem to me that it would not be easy to test how many international judicial institutions fit into this category. While one could examine whether an institution’s rulings are followed, one would actually have to measure the effect of rulings against the counter-factual situation in which the institution had never been created at all. Nevertheless, it’s food for thought. (Incidentally, this doesn’t seem to me a good explanation for institutions like WTO tribunals).

One Response

  1. I remember reading several articles that posit that the growth in depth of the E.U. has allowed national governments to blame the supranational body for problems, rather than being forced to account themselves; similar to how regional governments and states have often had the ability to blame the federal or national government for bad policies or results.

    To what extent this was a motivation to enter and/or deepen european integration, I don’t know, but it does seem like a fairly reasonable and empirically established result.

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