Conceptual Clarifications

Holders of Authority in IOs

In this edited volume, the term IPA refers to the administrative bodies of IOs. Over the past ten years, scholars have conceptualized and analyzed IPAs as collective entities within IOs. IPAs are then seen as distinct and separate part of IOs (Liese and Weinlich 2006, 495; Biermann et al.

2009, 37-40).

IPAs are conceptualized as collective entities because they operate as an organization with a vertical and horizontal division of labor (Trondal et al.

2010, 6-7). As organizations, they are run by non-elected officials, the so- called international civil servants, or international executives. Each official is assigned a specific post with delineated functions, responsibilities, and accountabilities with the basic duty to serve the common purpose of the IO of which they are part.

They are conceptualized as distinct part because they differ from the other intergovernmental bodies in the IO. Most importantly, they are beyond the direct control of member states. Their staff is at least formally not accountable to governments or other public actors in their countries of origin. Individual staff is obliged to be loyal to the administration and is accountable to its superiors in the bureaucracy (Trondal et al. 2010, 7 and 14). This distinguishes IPAs from intergovernmental bodies that are typically part of IOs and that fulfill legislative functions in IOs, namely, the so-called plenary assemblies or conferences of parties, or executive functions, namely, the so-called managerial directorates or councils (Biermann et al. 2009, 39-40). These intergovernmental bodies are directly and formally controlled by all or a selection of states (Liese and Weinlich 2006, 469).

Still, IPAs are an integral part of IOs. Typically, they are supposed to support legislative and executive bodies and member states. Their tasks range from generating and processing of data, information, and knowledge over providing administrative, technical, legal, and advisory support in intergovernmental negotiation processes to ensuring and monitoring compliance with multilateral decisions (Biermann et al. 2009, 37).

In more practical terms, the point is that it is too imprecise to ask whether the UN enjoy authority. It would be far more precise to ask about the authority of the UN Secretariat (as IPA in the UN), the Security Council (as executive body in the UN), the UN General Assembly (as legislative body in the UN), or the Department of Peacekeeping Operations within the UN Secretariat (as part of the IPA in the UN). What we wish to illustrate here is that a thorough analysis of the authority of any IO requires to identify the holder of authority as precisely as possible. In our case, this is the IPA, which is distinct from any intergovernmental body in an IO.

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