New Publication

Does Emergency End with the Crisis?

How do international organizations act in a crisis? Can they declare a "state of emergency" even though, unlike elected governments, they have no mandate to do so? In his recent book "Emergency Powers of International Organizations", published by Oxford University Press, Christian Kreuder-Sonnen, former Research Fellow at the Global Governance unit, examines the emergence and consequences of international organization’s emergency policies.

He argues that, in a globally networked world, international organizations are becoming central crisis managers and, in particularly dramatic cases, have even started to accrue emergency powers. On the one hand, this is associated with the expansion of executive powers beyond what is legally or politically mandated, as in the case of the United Nations Security Council after September 11, 2001. On the other hand, this has to do with encroachments on the rights of individuals or state actors. For example, Kreuder-Sonnen shows how the forced instalment of the tripartite coalition of European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund during the sovereign debt crisis enabled a non-mandated interference into the fiscal affairs of sovereign actors.

The book describes situations in which, due to circumstances appearing to offer no feasible alternative, international organizations extend their authority beyond their legally mandated reach. In addition to the role of the UN Security Council in the fight against international terrorism and that of the Troika, the detailed case studies also document the actions of the World Health Organization during the SARS crisis. The author asks whether such (self-) authorizations will last or whether we will witness a rollback. He shows that a normalization of emergency powers of international organizations appears likely, yet explains the conditions under which they might be constrained.