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.

Participation and Transparency at the IAEA and OPCW: dissertation submitted

Some days ago, I handed in my dissertation “Participation and Transparency in Intergovernmental Security Organizations. Resource and Norm Driven Opening in the IAEA and OPCW” at the University of Bremen. In the study, I show how the IAEA and OPCW have become more open to non-state participation and how they have become more transparent since their founding years. Both is remarkable given the high sovereignty costs that the organizations’ inspection activities have for their member states. Further, participation and transparency compete with strong norms of confidentiality in both organizations. In addition, I show that participation and transparency increase in a wide range of the organizations’ output. Both in their talk, decisions and actions, the IAEA and OPCW become more open.

Looking at explanations, I find that increasing participation is best explained by a resource based logic. Both organizations allow more non-state access for functional reasons, especially to gain expertise and advice for their inspections and verification activities. Increasing transparency, however, is best told as a norm based story. Rhetoric references to transparency and related changes in the organizations’ rules and action are strongest since a global norm of appropriate, transparent global governance has spread. In a short time, both the IAEA and OPCW have not only acknowledged that transparency should be an important principle for governance in their institutions, but also that new media strategies and investments in transparency towards the general public are required.

I will prepare a shorter version of the dissertation in the coming months. If you are already interested in the data I have collected on the organizational openness of the IAEA and OPCW, it is already available here: https://github.com/tobiasweise/igo_openness_iaea_opcw


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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