“But the UN Said So …”: International Organisations as Discursive Authorities
Many scholars take it as given that international governmental and non-governmental actors play a decisive role in international politics as regulative, moral or epistemic authorities. Hence, a denationalised ?multi-centric world? (James Rosenau) is said to be emerging, although empirical evidence for this is incomplete at best. Building on a variety of communication theoretical approaches, I argue for a clear-cut differentiation between authority and the power of the better argument. Moreover, I claim that, by looking at the way actors select and refer to the statements of others (?authority talk?), we can research the reproduction of authority as a specific type of relational power exercised by a variety of political actors, including governments, international agencies and non-state actors. The usefulness of this kind of analytical framework for researching an emerging ?world authority structure? (John Boli) is illustrated, using speeches and news pieces on the humanitarian crisis in Sudan/Darfur. Results suggest that the common perception of an existing ?non-governmental order? in humanitarian politics is highly exaggerated. Instead, what we see is a high degree of ?UN-isation? of debate and a pivotal role of national governments that are widely acknowledged as authoritative sources of meaning.