From Rule to Authority in International Institutions

Professor Michael Zürn, director of the Global Governance research unit at the WZB (Social Science Research Centre Berlin)

Co-presented with the Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, the University of Sydney and University of Western Sydney


7 November, 2013

The Western notion of legitimate rule is strongly associated with democratic constitutionalism. What is needed is a central place of final decisions and democratic procedures to control it. The political developments in the last three decades have undermined that significantly. Democratic rule is increasingly replaced by numerous sites of authorities like central banks or international institutions that neither are able to make final decision nor can be described as democratic. Yet these authorities are often needed and trusted. This leads to a democratic paradox and to reflexive legitimacy – revival of contestation about the appropriate criteria for political legitimacy.

Included a response from Professor Jan Zielonka (St Antony’s College, Oxford) and an exhibition of the work of the Refugee Art Project (RAP).

Professor Michael Zurn


Professor Michael Zürn is the director of the Global Governance research unit at the WZB (Social Science Research Centre Berlin) and Professor of International Relations at the Free University Berlin. He is also the head of the WZB Rule of Law Center. Michael Zürn served as the Founding Dean of the Hertie School of Governance from 2004 to 2009. He is Honorary Fellow at the Hertie School of Governance and senior fellow at the London School of Economics. He is also a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academiy of Sciences. He has published frequently on international relations topics, such as global governance and European integration in journals like International Organization, World Politics, European Journal of International Relations and with publishers like Cambridge and Suhrkamp