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.

Thinking About Trade

Workshop at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland, 28 to 29 May 2015

World trade politics is conventionally explained based on interests weighed by power. Yet, like any area of political activity, it also includes a strong cognitive dimension. This dimension becomes evident in claims that the WTO is facing a ‘legitimacy crisis’ as well as in the emphasis placed on norms and values like ‘liberalization’, the ‘rule of law’ or ‘coherence’. It also becomes visible in struggles to include labor rights and sustainability into the preambles of bilateral or multilateral trade agreements and in the oftentimes fierce contestation over the meaning of concepts like ‘development’, ‘democracy’ or ‘differentiated treatment’ in the context of world trade politics.

The workshop puts the cognitive dimension center stage. It asks how cognitive approaches help us to make sense of politics in an issue area that is frequently regarded as a hard case for constructivists: How do norms, ideas and heuristics shape the power relations and the interests that actors pursue in the current trade regime? How and why do certain norms, ideas and heuristics norms become powerful? And how and why do the ways in which we see world trade politics – as well as the meanings and power attached to certain norms, ideas and heuristics – change over time?

In an attempt to integrate insights from different scholarly discourses and disciplines, the workshop seeks to take stock of the various roles that cognitions play in the conduct of world trade politics, either as the ‘deep structures’ that constitute or inform the agents and their interests as well as the positions they hold, or as the boundaries of acceptable behaviour and legitimate policy that actors regularly contest and (re)define in the pursuit of their assumed interests. Furthermore, the workshop seeks to explore how cognitive approaches question traditional assumptions over precisely what is an ‘actor’ and what is the relevant sphere of social relations that constitute the current world trade regime.

The workshop is organized by Klaus Dingwerth ( and Clara Weinhardt (, Global Public Policy Institute) as a part of the Global Democratic Governance Profile Area (GDG) of the University of St. Gallen. A limited number of travel grants will be available to reimburse travel and accommodation costs of workshop participants.

Key Dates:

  • Abstracts of up to 250 words can be submitted until Thursday, 5 February 2015. Please e-mail your abstracts to and
  • Decisions about the selection of papers will be communicated by Tuesday, 17 February 2015.
  • Full workshop papers will need to be submitted by Thursday, 21 May 2015.

OPCW’s 19th Conference of the States Parties | Some impressions

From 2 to 5 December 2014, I had the pleasure to take part in the 19th Conference of the States Parties (CSP) of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The OPCW implements the Chemical Weapons Convention, the international treaty banning the use, storage and production of all chemicals used for warfare. The OPCW became active in 1997, it is thus quite a young international organization. The organization has nearly reached universality. A great achievement given its demanding obligations that states agree to when signing the CWC.

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