Governance, Communication, and Public Policy




Which Post-Westphalia? International Organizations between Constitutionalism and Authoritarianism

Beteiligte Wissenschaftler

Prof. Dr. Bernhard Zangl




Christian Kreuder-Sonnen, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung (WZB)


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 (IOs) 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 project highlights that IOs can also exercise authority in an authoritarian fashion which violates the same constitutionalist principles of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law that IOs 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 endpoints of constitutionalism and authoritarianism, we analyze the UN security system and the EU economic system as two post-Westphalian orders. While we find a remarkable level of constitutionalization in the EU and incipient constitutionalist tendencies in the UN, we also find authoritarian sub-orders in both institutions. Most visibly, the latter can be discerned in the UN Security Council’s counter-terrorism policy after 9/11 and the European emergency governance during the sovereign debt crisis. The project thus argues that the emerging post-Westphalian order is characterized by a plurality of fundamentally contradictory (sub-)orders coexisting in parallel.