Constructing the Powers of International Institutions


The scope of powers of international institutions has always been surrounded by a sense of ambiguity. This has its source in the nature of the two main legal tools with which to construct powers; the doctrines of attributed/conferred powers and implied powers. This book illustrates the function of the two doctrines in a discourse on powers. Special attention is also paid to the move to a constitutional vocabulary as a way of transcending the dichotomy at the heart of diverging constructions of powers. Constitutionalization claims, the book argues, can be reproductions of different images of the proper extent of powers. The book is a reminder of the political nature of any construction of powers of international institutions.
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EUR €135.00USD $168.00

Biographical Note

Viljam Engström, Ph.D. (2009) in International Law, Åbo Akademi University, is University Teacher of Constitutional Law and International Law at Åbo Akademi University. Recent publications include articles such as: Powers of Organizations and the Many Faces of Autonomy (in Collins and White, Routledge, 2010), and How to Tame the Elusive: Lessons from the Revision of the EU Flexibility Clause (in IOLR 2010).

Review Quotes

" locating the topic of powers within this frame the book demystifies and illuminates an important and contemporary problem underlying the law of international organisations, if not, indeed, international law as a whole. This is a clear indication, if one was needed, of a valuable and important addition to the existing literature in this area."
-Richard Collins, University of Sheffield

Table of contents

1. Introducing the Question of Powers
1.1 An Evergreen or Ignored Subject?; 1.2 ‘A Power’ vis-à-vis ‘Power’; 1.3 Who Can Possess Powers?; 1.4 Struggling to Define Powers; 1.5 The Aim of the Book;
2. Powers as a Way of Imaging Organizations
2.1 The Idea of Attributed Powers; 2.2 The Idea of Implied Powers; 2.3 Shifting Ideologies and the Interpretation of Powers;
3. Powers - A Debate Between Familiar Adversaries
3.1 Powers as A Manifestation of Autonomy; 3.2 Tracing Member Preferences; 3.3 A Dual Image of Organizations;
4. On the Inherent Ambiguity of Powers Claims
4.1 The Elusiveness of Implied Powers; 4.2 The Attributed Character of all Powers; 4.3 On the Use(lessness) of the Attributed and Implied Powers Doctrines;
5. Structuring the Question of Powers
5.1 Looking for Guidance in the Constituent Instrument; 5.2 Looking for Guidance in Principles of Interpretation; 5.3 Changing the Framework of Debate; 5.4 The Promise of Constitutionalism;
6. Constitutionalism as a Framework for Debating Powers
6.1 On the Nature of Constitutional Claims; 6.2 Formal Constitutionalism as Empowerment and Restraint; 6.3 Substantive Constitutionalism as Empowerment and Restraint; 6.4 Speaking Constitutionalism;
7. Concluding Remarks


All those with an interest in international institutions and international institutional law, academic institutions and libraries.


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