1st Edition

Constituent Power and the Legitimacy of International Organizations The Constitution of Supranationalism

By John G. Oates Copyright 2020
    196 Pages
    by Routledge

    196 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book develops a constitutional theory of international organization to explain the legitimation of supranational organizations.

    Supranational organizations play a key role in contemporary global governance, but recent events like Brexit and the threat by South Africa to withdraw from the International Criminal Court suggest that their legitimacy continues to generate contentious debates in many countries. Rethinking international organization as a constitutional problem, Oates argues that it is the representation of the constituent power of a constitutional order, that is, the collective subject in whose name authority is wielded, which explains the legitimation of supranational authority. Comparing the cases of the European Union, the World Trade Organization, and the International Criminal Court, Oates shows that the constitution of supranationalism is far from a functional response to the pressures of interdependence but a value-laden struggle to define the proper subject of global governance.

    The book will be of interest to students and scholars of international organization and those working in the broader fields of global governance and general International Relations theory. It should also be of interest to international legal scholars, particularly those focused on questions related to global constitutionalism.

    Chapter 1 – Introduction: From Contracts to Constitutions

    Chapter 2 – A Constitutional Theory of Supranationalism

    Chapter 3 – A Community of Fate: Supranationalism and the Origins of European Integration

    Chapter 4 – From States to Industry: Neoliberalism, Supranationalism and the WTO

    Chapter 5 – The Conscience of all Nations of the World: the Founding of the ICC

    Chapter 6 – Conclusion: The Future of Supranationalism and International Authority


    John G. Oates is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics and International Relations at Florida International University. He received his PhD in Political Science from The Ohio State University, and has published articles in Review of International Studies, Journal of International Relations and Development, and Journal of International Political Theory. His research examines the dynamics of authority and legitimacy in global governance, with a particular focus on the origins of supranational institutions. He also has interests in normative international theory, social theory, and international law.