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The Design of International Organizations. Fostering Diplomatic Deliberation?

Das institutionelle Design internationaler Organisationen

Das institutionelle Design internationaler Organisationen

Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft 

Period of Funding: October 2017 - September 2020, extended until August 2022 

Project Leadership: Prof. Dr. Diana Panke 

Research Assistants: Franziska Hohlstein, Gurur Polat 

Student Assistants: Sarah Bordt, Lea Gerhardt, Sebastian Lehmler, Laura Lepsy, Laura Maghetiu, Leonardo Rey, Edward Vaughan, Philipp Wagenhals, Fabiola Mieth, Leylan Sida, Pauline Grimmer, Chiara Fury, Laurenz Schöffler, Nicolas Koch, Jannik Schulz, Isabel Gana Dresen 



State constitutions, founding treaties of international organizations (IOs) and rules of procedure have in common that many of the rules dealing with interactions between actors are intended to create space for deliberation on the one hand, while limiting the time available for it on the other. While the latter speeds up decision-making, the quality and legitimacy of decisions can be affected. How do IOs deal with these conflicting objectives? Are there differences between IOs and if so, why? 


In a first step, the project investigates how the institutional design of IOs promotes or limits deliberation among diplomats. Second, a survey is used to analyze how institutional rules are used in practice. This allows to explain variances and (lack of) fit between institutional design and diplomatic deliberation practice within and between IOs. In a third step, we analyze how and under which conditions institutional deliberative design and diplomatic deliberation practices in IOs influence problem-solving capacity and legitimacy. 


Objectives of Research Project: 

Since the end of the Second World War, not only has the number of international organizations (IOs) increased, but the body of international law has also grown. Nevertheless, we know little about how the institutional designs of IOs differ and how variance in their deliberative quality influences interaction dynamics between states and thus also negotiation outcomes. Therefore, the project pursues three major goals:  

  1. To capture and explain the extent to which IOs are institutionally designed to promote deliberation between diplomats and the differences between them;  
  2. To ascertain the actual extent of deliberative diplomatic practices and explain why these vary between IOs and why there may be discrepancies between institutional deliberative design and diplomatic deliberative practices; and  
  3. Analyze the relationship between institutional design of IOs, diplomatic deliberative practices and the problem-solving capacity, efficiency and legitimacy of IOs.  


Therefore, this project aims to: 

  • generate new empirical evidence on the extent to which IOs are institutionally designed to promote deliberation among diplomats and on the extent of actual deliberative diplomatic practices, 

  • develop explanations for variances in deliberative institutional design and diplomatic deliberative practices within and between IOs, 

  • provide new insights into the functioning of institutions and practices that can limit or enhance the effect of institutional design or act as functional equivalents, generate important and original knowledge about how IOs can stimulate deliberation among diplomats and the implications for optimizing the relationship between fast, good and legitimate decision-making in IOs  


Conference Presentations: 

  • "The Deliberative Diplomatic Design of International Organizations. A Factor Analysis" - EPSA Conference, Belfast, 18 June 2019. 

  • Diplomatic Deliberative Practices in International Organizations. Does Institutional Design Matter?"  - 60th ISA Annual Convention, Toronto, 28 March 2019. 

  • "The Institutional Design of International Organizations: Fostering Deliberation or Speeding up Decision Making? " - 60th ISA Annual Convention, Toronto, 28 March 2019. 

  • "The Power of Rules. Studying the Deliberative Design of International Organizations" - 59th ISA Annual Convention, San Francisco, 6 April 2018.