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Jean d’Aspremont

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Jean d’Aspremont

After submitting that most scholarly and practical debates about the law of international organizations can be construed as a battle between arguments based on the idea of a contract and those based on the idea of a constitution, this article discusses international legal scholars’ ability to turn the foundational dichotomies between contractualism and constitutionalism into a dynamic and dialectic framework. It makes the argument that international legal scholars, and especially legal academics, while unanimously acknowledging the existence of such paradigmatic tensions, are regularly tempted to iron them out through the promotion of a series of dialectical concepts or moves.

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International Responsibility and the Constitution of Power

International Organizations Bolstered

Jean d’Aspremont

This article contests mainstream accounts of international responsibility and argues that the act of subjecting certain forms of conduct to the regime of international responsibility has a constitutive dimension. It argues that international responsibility constitutes, rather than constrains, power. More than legal personality, it is international responsibility that makes international organizations huge hubs of power. This article starts with some introductory remarks on the extent to which responsibility ought to be understood as a set of formal modes of legal reasoning through which the determination and allocation of the burden of compensation is debated, as well as a few reminders of the political choices that informed the design of its main formal modes of legal reasoning. After showing how the rules regarding the responsibility of States are constitutive of the power of States, attention turns to the claim that the regime of responsibility of international organizations similarly constitutes the power of international organizations and their member States. This article ends with some remarks on the divergent constitutive roles of personality and responsibility, and on the consequences of a shift in perspective from accountability to power in studies on international responsibility.