Towards an International Institutional Law of Information

In: International Organizations Law Review
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  • 1 Humboldt University zu Berlin, Germany

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How does international institutional law shape the way in which international institutions govern information and exercise cognitive authority? Drawing from the existing literature on indicators, data collection and transparency in international institutions such as the World Bank and the un, this paper argues that existing legal norms can be reconstructed as an overarching framework that legally structures global information governance. Indicators thus do not, as is often assumed, “escape” legal regulation; law rather co-constitutes the lens through which information about the world is generated. The paper analyses the institutional architecture and the modalities of informational action as well as the sources and regulatory modus of the existing legal framework. It exemplifies rules on institutional powers, participation, review and transparency and discusses general principles that structure the field. Taken together, these rules and principles circumscribe the emerging contours of an “international institutional law of information” that normatively frames the informational relationships between international institutions, states and individuals.

  • 3

    Schmidt-Aßmann, supra note 1, p. 118.

  • 9

    Merry, supra note 6; Salais, supra note 2, pp. 241–2; Linn Hammergren, ‘Indices, Indicators and Statistics: A View from the Project Side as to Their Utility and Pitfalls’ (2011) 3 Hague Journal on the Rule of Law pp. 305–16.

  • 20

    Ward, supra note 19, p. 72; Heinrich Brüngger and Svein Longva, ‘International Principles Governing Official Statistics at the National Level: Are they Relevant for the Statistical Work of International Organizations as Well?’ (1998) 15 Statistical Journal of the United Nations European Economic Commission pp. 221–35, pp. 224 et seq.

  • 35

    Barnett and Finnemore, supra note 16; Emanuel Adler and Peter Haas, ‘Knowledge, Power, and International Policy Coordination’ (1992) 46 International Organization p. 367.

  • 38

    Davis, Kingsbury and Merry, supra note 5, p. 79. Shkabatur, supra note 4, p. 166.

  • 39

    Barnett and Finnemore, supra note 16; Pahuja, supra note 36; Liam Clegg, ‘Our Dream is a World Full of Poverty Indicators: The us, the World Bank, and the Power of Numbers’ (2010) 15 New Political Economy pp. 473–92.

  • 40

    Davis, Kingsbury and Merry, supra note 5, p. 73.

  • 47

    Shkabatur, supra note 4, pp. 187–201.

  • 55

    Riegner, supra note 48.

  • 65

    Generally Klabbers, supra note 62, pp. 59 et seq.

  • 70

    Bogdandy and Goldmann, supra note 42, p. 289; Salais, supra note 2. See also Art. 338 (1) tfeu.

  • 72

    Brüngger and Longva, supra note 20.

  • 74

    Cassese and Casini, supra note 12; Dutta, supra note 12. More generally on these principles, see Benedict Kingsbury, Nico Krisch and Richard B. Stewart, ‘The Emergence of Global Administrative Law’ (2005) 68 Law and Contemporary Problems pp. 15–61, pp. 37 et seq. For the present approach, these are not assumed to be positive legal norms but rather used as doctrinal heuristics to lead an inquiry into the concrete legal material and its interpretation. Critical on gal principles Carol Harlow, ‘Global Administrative Law: The Quest for Principles and Values’ (2006) 17 European Journal of International Law pp. 187–214.

  • 76

    Bernstorff, supra note 16, p. 1951. See also Niklas Luhmann, Legitimation durch Verfahren (Luchterhand, Neuwied am Rhein, 1969) pp. 11–26.

  • 82

    Davis, Kingsbury and Merry, supra note 5, p. 94.

  • 88

    Access to Information Policy 2010, para. 22.

  • 89

     Cf. Access to Information Policy 2010, para. 38.

  • 91

    Access to Information Policy 2010, para. 16(c).

  • 110

    Ward, supra note 19, pp. 37 et seq., 143 et seq.

  • 119

    Rosga and Satterthwaite, supra note 6; Judith Welling, ‘International Indicators and Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights’ (2008) 30 Human Rights Quarterly pp. 933–58; Lawrence Barsh, ‘Measuring Human Rights: Problems of Methodology and Purpose’ (1993) 15 Human Rights Quarterly pp. 87–121.

  • 121

    Merry, supra note 6; Arne Hoffmann, ‘Human Rights in Numbers: Do Global Quantitative Human Rights Indicators Change the International Human Rights Discourse?’, Master-Thesis, University of Southern Denmark (2008/2009). Collection of data disaggregated on the basis of race, as required by some un Treaty Bodies, is considered unconstitutional in some domestic jurisdictions, see e.g. Décision n° 2007–557 dc (Conseil Constitutionnel).

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