Ordering by Default: The Politics and Power of Post-Coup Interventions in Africa

The Global Norms team congratulates Antonia Witt for successfully defending her PhD dissertation at the Universität Lepizig earlier this week. Antonia’s dissertation asks what it means to return a country to constitutional order – and how the precise meaning of that formula is negotiated in practice. To answer this question, the thesis reconstructs how political order is (re-)negotiated after coup d’états in member states of the African Union. Starting from the observation that the African Union has adopted an ‘anti-coup norm’ in 2000, the author shows that this norm has hardly been applied in standardized ways, but leaves much room for maneuver instead. In her detailed reconstruction of international responses to the 2001/02 and 2009 coups in Madagascar, Antonia reveals the complex structures, dynamics and consequences of order-making as well as its internationalization over time. She argues that the actors involved in negotiating political order are manifold; that the process of re-making political order is often incoherent; and that it does not only – or even primarily – contribute to solving existing social conflicts, but also creates new ones. Seen in this way, the anti-coup norm is neither simply a path to ‘democratization from above’, nor a strategic device for dictators to cling to power, nor an institutional machinery to objectively ‘return a country to constitutional order’. It is, as the dissertation convincingly shows, the basis for complex international interventions in which the contours of political order are re-negotiated both within the respective polity as well as internationally.

Keynote address: Legitimation in Global Governance

On 7 June, Klaus Dingwerth gave a keynote lecture at the workshop “Designing Legitimacy” at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence. In his talk, Klaus argued that democratic norms have been on the rise in transnational as well as in intergovernmental governance, but that the dynamics that gave rise to them as well as the roles they have come to play differ significantly across contexts. In the second part, he reflected upon how we can best make sense of the context-sensitive rise of a democratic legitimation narrative in global governance. Drawing on different perspectives in contemporary social theory, Klaus argued that the rise of democratic legitimation norms we can observe is episodic rather than linear, precarious rather than stable and reformist rather than radical. In normative terms, he thus saw the rise of democratic legitimation norms oscillating between democratic potential and post-democratic practice. The one-day workshop was hosted by EUI fellows Gisela Hirschmann, Tobias Lenz and Lora Viola. It featured another keynote address by Jonas Tallberg as well as the participation of, among others, Friedrich Kratochwil, Iva Koivisto, Dennis Patterson, and Jennifer Welsh. The paper on which the talk was based is available upon request.

New Op-Ed: Will FIFA Live Up to the Human Rights Challenge?

On 14 April, Harvard professor and former UN Special Representative for Business & Human Rights John Ruggie has published his long awaited report on FIFA and human rights. The report formulates a set of expectations in light of which FIFA will be evaluated in the future. Ruggie calls upon FIFA to use its leverage to improve workers’ rights in Qatar, but his analysis of the organization’s human rights risks also addresses less discussed topics like the trafficking of young players, gender equality in association football or sexual exploitation linked to the influx of tens of thousands of football fans in World Cup host cities.

For FIFA the report means a lot of work. Given the current pressures it faces, it seems unlikely that FIFA will completely ignore the Ruggie report. But taking the report seriously will require more than merely cosmetic changes. A particularly tough challenge will be Ruggie’s demand to move ‘from constitution to culture’ – a culture that has until now been linked more to bribery and corruption than to human rights.

Yet the report is also a chance for FIFA to regain some of the credibility it has lost over the past years. If, under pressure from sponsors, advocacy groups and the public, FIFA manages to turn its statutory commitment into a convincing human rights policy, to match that policy with adequate structures, resources and competences, and to make it gradually guide the activities of the organization in its commercial and sports-related activities, it could make a difference. FIFA could add a grain of reality to some of its more lofty goals – the Ruggie report takes up the slogan “For the Game, For the World” and in its CSR commitments, FIFA portrays itself as a “force for global change” – and show that it can be a leader on a topic that matters to people. The pressure on other sports associations and the International Olympic Committee to take similar steps would be strong.

This comment is based on our German op-ed in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 15 April 2016. The full Ruggie report is available here. There is also a (not overly encouraging) press statement from FIFA in response to the report.