From ‘conference machinery’ to ‘global administration’? International executive authority beyond Hammarskjöld

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Over the past decades, international law has seen a revival of international executive authority. Multilateral institutions exercise roles and functions of a public nature that are not unlike those performed by non-secular entities (e.g. the Church) in previous centuries. International organisations act as service providers or defenders of ‘global public goods’. The focus on executive action in international law may be traced back to the nineteenth century. National administrations formed joint administrative unions in order to administer resources common to several states, such as natural resources and rivers. This type of administrative cooperation was then extended to sectors such as communication (International Postal Union), meteorology, health or aviation. International institutions have exercised administering power over territories in the aftermath of the First World War, under the umbrella of the League of Nations (Saar, Danzig Memel, Tangier, Trieste), and later in the context of the UN and other international entities (e.g. EU). Today, many international organisations act as ‘global public administrations’. Their actions produce direct impact on national societies. They form part of what has been labelled a common ‘administrative space’, i.e. international regulatory structures, mechanisms and transnational networks that regulate a field of activity and set and enforce norms in the realm between international law and domestic jurisdiction. Inside the UN, the transformation from intergovernmental structures and working methods to multilateral forms of international organisation and decision-making was deeply shaped by Hammarskjöldd's tenure. He represents like hardly any other UN Secretary-General the empowerment of executive authority in international relations.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPeace Diplomacy, Global Justice and International Agency
Subtitle of host publicationRethinking Human Security and Ethics in the Spirit of Dag Hammarskjold
PublisherReader, Cambridge University Press
Number of pages38
ISBN (Electronic)9781139583855
ISBN (Print)9781107037205
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)

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