Organizations

[Dr Jean-Marc Coicaud is the Director of the United Nations University Office at the United Nations in New York.] Professor Thakur highlights what he claims to be today the weak legitimacy of the United Nations. He does so not only by stressing the gap between the principles upon which the legitimacy of the UN is meant to be based and reality,...

[Ramesh Thakur is a Distinguished Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, and Professor of Political Science at the University of Waterloo in Canada.] The UN is the site where power should be moderated by lawful authority. Legitimacy connects authority to power. The greater the gap between power and justice in world affairs, the greater the international legitimacy deficit. The...

The following is a guest post by David Glazier, an Associate Professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. As Opinio Juris readers likely recall, there are two ongoing federal prosecutions in Norfolk, Virginia before different judges of Somali pirates who made the boneheaded mistakes of attempting attacks on two separate U.S. Navy warships. (Hey, it was dark!)  In the first...

Although everyone is justly excited about International Law Weekend, I wanted to mention another conference in New York that took place yesterday at Brooklyn Law School, Governing Civil Society: NGO Accountability, Legitimacy and Influence.  Congratulations to Professors Claire R. Kelly and Dana Brakman Reiser at BLS for putting it together.  I was on one of the panels at this one day session and there were many other terrific people who represented a quite fascinating and too-rare mingling of the international law and nonprofit law worlds.  As someone who cuts across both, I thought this was a great conference. The issue that drove it was to ask (this is my summary) whether there is a way to bring together two basic questions about non-governmental organizations and nonprofit organizations in the international world, the transnational world, the global space: accountability in the sense of large political legitimacy, and accountability in the sense that is usually meant in non-profit and charitable organization law.  So one panel addressed the interactions of NGOs and international organizations; a second addressed models of governance and regulation of NGOs; and the last panel asked whether and how legitimacy and accountability might be linked. One of the takeaways for me was that the question of the legitimacy and governance function of international NGOs, global civil society, is still a salient question.  I have long criticized (very sharply) the suggestion that international NGOs ought to have a legitimacy function within the international system, which is to say, a role in governance, even if you think, as I do not, that liberal international global governance is a good idea.  But I had mostly stopped writing on this theme, except when specifically invited (here and here, for example), because I had thought that the idea had died away.  That was something I thought I had learned from Anne-Marie Slaughter's impressive A New World Order; she specifically rejects the global civil society-international organization partnership in governance as failing basic tests of legitimacy (I discuss this in a long review of the book).  Instead, focus seemed to have shifted to the also important question of NGO accountability with respect to the performance of their own missions - internal governance of international NGOs, their relationships with governments in their operational work, and questions that implicate accountability and governance about them as institutions, not global governance. More recently, however, I have realized that something that I thought had faded away as a model project in global governance is still around, somewhat incorporated into some of theories of global constitutionalism that have been a staple of European academic writing on global governance for many years.  But definitely active once again as a proposed theory of global governance and legitimacy.  So I guess I am back writing about it again.  I am no more in favor of it than I ever was, I'm afraid.  Of the academic international law writers in this area, the one who seems to me the most important is Steve Charnovitz of GW, who presented a very interesting paper at this conference.  Steve always offers a careful and measured view, and this paper was exactly that, but also exceedingly interesting not just in the critique of critics like me, but in offering a step forward in a positive account of NGOs in governance.  Indeed, in some respects it was quietly the most audacious of the papers at the seminar, because Steve set out the form of an argument for asking how anyone could propose to leave the NGOs out.  I will very much look forward to reading the essay when published in the symposium issue.

On Thursday night I had the privilege of participating in a live webinar on targeted killing and Al-Aulaqi held by the Harvard Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research.  The other participants included Yale's Andrew March, Emory's Laurie Blank, and Seton Hall's Jonathan Hafetz.  It was a wonderful, wide-ranging discussion, one that focused not only on the international-law aspects of...

As a member of the U.S. State Department’s Advisory Committee on International Law, I was asked to give my reactions to the International Law Commission’s release, on first reading, of a set of proposed articles on the Responsibility of International Organizations. (For the ILC’s report containing these draft articles and commentaries, see here). I was probably asked to undertake this...

Chuck Lane makes this case for rejecting a "cry fire" analogy on Koran burning, as suggested by Justice Breyer in a book-flacking recent interview with George Stephanopoulos.  The logic is pretty clear: that where an expressive act creates an immediate danger, it's not constitutionally protected.  If the burning of a Koran in Florida was going to cost lives in Afghanistan,...

The American University School of International Service - not my law school, but SIS - is holding a conference on global governance on Friday-Saturday, September 24-25, at the spanking new and quite lovely new SIS building at AU.  It's a great line-up of speakers and panelists; kudos to the organizers.  One of the convenors is David Bosco, whose book on the Security Council, Five to Rule Them All, is essential reading for those who work on international organizations, and whose new blog, The Multilateralist, is hosted at Foreign Policy (KJH mentioned this a couple of weeks ago).

Mike Scharf and Paul Williams have published an interesting collection of recollections and colloquys among all ten living State Department legal advisers, Shaping Foreign Policy in Times of Crisis: The Role of International Law and the State Department Legal Adviser, released by Cambridge UP earlier this year.  In addition to essays from each, recounting particular episodes from their tenures, there...