Academic journal article Proceedings of the Annual Meeting-American Society of International Law

Institutions and the Rule of Law: A New Voices Panel

Academic journal article Proceedings of the Annual Meeting-American Society of International Law

Institutions and the Rule of Law: A New Voices Panel

Article excerpt

This panel was convened at 1:00 p.m., Thursday, March 29, by its moderator, Richard Gardner of Columbia Law School, who introduced the panelists: Sungjoon Cho of Chicago-Kent College of Law; Jeremy Farrall of Australian National University; Susan Notar of the American Society of International Law; and Christopher Whytock of the University of Utah, S.J. Quinney College of Law.


Sungjoon Cho *


Conventional international relations (IR) theorists, such as realists, neo-functionalists, or regime theorists, view international organizations (IOs) as passive tools with which to achieve certain goals. Although an IO may facilitate inter-state cooperation and reduce transaction costs, it does not have a life of its own. (1) Therefore, conventional IR theorists focus mostly on the creation of an IO and inter-state cooperation leading up to the creation. As a result, an IO's institutional change remains rather an "under-studied" and "under-theorized" issue in the conventional international relations (IR) framework. (2)

Conventional IR theories thus seldom offer a satisfactory explanation on an institutional dynamic under which an IO, as a separate and autonomous organic entity, grows, evolves, and eventually makes sense of its own existence. Yet by focusing on an IO's autonomy, we can expect to capture the dynamic operation, or evolution, of a specific IO qua organization, predict its future trajectory and even launch various reform agenda through an identification of specific conditions under which specific IOs can perform effectively in specific stages of their institutional development.

In this regard, the identity theory in developmental psychology enlightens the institutional development of an IO. As an IO evolves, it interacts with its environment, and continuously defines and redefines its institutional raison d'etre. In this process, the organization often undergoes a daunting situation under which an old structure has become increasingly incapable of coping with new challenges from the new environment. Confronting this crisis, it may reconfigure its institutional setting by adjusting its teleology to the new environment. Only then can its institutional existence continue to hold relevance, and its genuine institutional identity be formed.


The Identity Theory in Developmental Psychology

Eril Erikson's theory of identity formation focuses on the resolution of certain "crises" that occur in each stage of development, which signify certain "conflicts" between "identification" with the environment (such as parents and peers) and emancipation therefrom. (3) A child is "deeply and exclusively 'identified' with his parents." (4) Yet adolescents "are sometimes morbidly, often curiously, preoccupied with what they appear to be in the eyes of others." (5) Erikson depicted the estrangement of this process as "identity confusion." (6) The final identity, although it includes all significant identifications with key figures of the past, also processes them in a way that builds a unique yet coherent whole. (7) However, during the final stage of identity formation, adolescents tend to suffer greatly from role confusion. (8) Past multiple identifications--and the roles they prescribe--often conflict with each other. This disturbance is tantamount to a crisis or "a war within themselves." (9) Only after adolescents weather this Strum und Drang do they acquire a sense of "knowing where [they are] going." (10)

The Identity Formation in International Organizations

As adolescents do in their identity formation process, IOs also experience certain socialization pressures from their environment and are forced to diversify their institutional selves into multiple roles that should eventually be integrated into an internally coherent identity. …

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