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International Organizations as Orchestrators

The research focus aims at analyzing international organizations (IO) such as the United Nations (UN) in their role as orchestrators. Orchestration is a specific mode of governance which is increasingly used by international organizations to reach their governance goals. International organizations act as orchestrators when they try to facilitate or coordinate the governance activities of intermediaries through persuasion and inducement. The UN support for the so-called Kimberly-Process may serve as an example. To make its embargos against so called blood diamonds more effective, the UN helped private businesses and civil-society actors to set up a mechanism to certify diamonds from legal sources and thus to distinguish them from diamonds from illegal sources, especially so-called blood-diamonds. Orchestration is thus defined as an indirect and soft mode of governance which is to be distinguished from traditional governance by regulation which usually directly addresses the targets of governance (the diamonds industry, for instance) with hard instruments of governance (a binding duty to certify, for instance).

While orchestration seems to be emerging as an important governance tool for international organizations, it is rarely taken note of in either International Relations or International Law scholarship. It is either ignored altogether or conflated with governance by new modes of governance (which are soft, but direct) or with governance by delegation (which is indirect, but hard). To establish research on IO orchestration alongside existing research on IO soft governance and the growing literature on IO governance through delegation, the project will flesh out the analytical prospects of distinguishing orchestration from these other modes of governance. The aim is to describe different modes of IO orchestration, to identify the conditions under which international organizations use orchestration as a tool of governance, rather than regulation or delegation on the one hand, and to single out the conditions under which IOs use different types of orchestration on the other. In doing so the project looks at international organizations such as the UN, WTO, ILO, IMF, WHO, UNEP and the EU.

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  • Der volle Klang der leisen Stimmen, in: Einsichten 2 (2012), S. 37-41.