Contested World Orders

Prof. Dr. Detlef Nolte
Dr. Miriam Prys-Hansen
2012 - 2016
Leibniz Competition

Prof. Dr. Michael Zürn, Dr. Martin Binder, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin (WZB), Germany

Prof. Dr. Harald Müller, Prof. Dr. Klaus-Dieter Wolf, Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (HSFK), Germany

Prof. Dr. Liesbeth Hooghe, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands

Prof. Dr. Gary Marks, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA

Prof. Dr. Jonas Tallberg, University of Stockholm, Sweden



Research Questions

  • What are the implications of the increasing influence of "rising powers" and transnational non-governmental organisations and their contestation of international institutions for a "new world order"?
  • How do "rising powers" and transnational non-governmental organisations contest international institutions?
  • What differences and similarities do these contestations demonstrate, particularly with regard to underlying norms and concepts of legitimacy?
  • What are the repercussions of these contestations for the authority of international institutions?

Contribution to International Research

While the increasing influence of transnational non-governmental organisations and the new "rising powers" has been the subject of academic research, there are very few systematic analyses which take both phenomena into account and study their interrelation. Those studies which focus on the role of states in international politics neglect the importance of non-governmental actors. On the other hand, studies on transnational non-governmental organisations do not pay attention to the new "rising powers".

The project aims to unite these two separate discourses and to study the interactions between the two different sets of actors. In particular, the project focuses on the demands and criticism that the "rising powers" and the non-governmental organisations address at international institutions, examining their commonalities and differences. The project thus aims to systematically assess the forms of contestation addressed at international institutions, as well as their implications for these institutions’ authority and legitimacy.

Research Design and Methods

The project will unite the expertise of the three Leibniz institutes involved, drawing upon their previous work on the authority of international organisations (WZB), the legitimacy claims of NGOs (HSFK), and the "rising powers" (GIGA). As a first step, the project will develop its basic concepts for a joint publication on the "multiple sites of resistance" against international institutions. In addition to the topic of resistance, the publication will also investigate the authority and legitimacy of these institutions. As a second step, the researchers will create a database that systematically assesses forms of authority and corresponding contestations and legitimacy claims over time and in different fields.

Preliminary Results

In the framework of the project a high-ranking edited volume will be published, under the guidance of the cooperation partners from the WZB. The contributions to that volume will focus on the preferences and strategies of NGOs and BRICS states in eight different policy fields ranging from security to issues related to welfare. In their theoretical framework paper to the volume the authors from the WZB highlight three research questions: a) the extent of support or opposition of NGOs and BRICS for the aggregation of political authority by international institutions, b) their support or opposition to the institutionalisation of liberal policies and principles, and d) the distance of the actors’ preferences from the institutional status quo.

Based on a (quantitative or qualitative) statement analysis, the case studies will reveal similarities and differences among and within the two sets of actors under scrutiny. The GIGA contributes three case studies in the policy fields of climate finance, health governance and the UN security council as well as an additional case study on regional governance. The GIGA researchers have developed the empirical datasets for these contributions. Preliminary results indicate that in the climate case, rising countries act defensively and often avoid further commitments, while in security they act offensively and claim more authority. In addition, in some policy fields Southern NGOs’ viewpoints may come closer to their government’s positions than to those of their Northern NGO allies.