Common Identities, Overlapping Authorities and Complexity. Practices of (De-)Legitimation in the United Nations
Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law & International Law (MPIL) Research Paper No. 2021-05
34 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2021 Last revised: 1 Mar 2021
Date Written: February 22, 2021
The paper discusses competing practices of legitimation between the UN and the EU, within the BHR regime and within the UN. It contributes to IR literature on IO legitimation by analyzing the practices of self-legitimation and delegitimation of a UN intergovernmental working group in the field of business and human rights: the Open-Ended Intergovernmental Working Group on Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Respect to Human Rights (OEIWG). The paper discusses three practices of (de)legitimation – common identities, overlapping authorities and complexity – and investigates the latter as a performative practice of legitimation that focuses on substance. Performative practices represent a peculiar type of legitimation as they contribute to legitimacy rather as a by-product. Therefore, the concept of performative legitimation adds to the typology of legitimation practices next to discursive, institutional and behavioral practices. Additionally, the paper broadens the lens of analysis of the agents of IO self-legitimation to include a plurality of supporting and opposing actors.
Keywords: Legitimacy; United Nations; business and human rights; European Union; overlapping authorities
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