Panel III – The Crisis of the ‘Liberal World Order‘

Crisis: Interdisciplinary Perspectives - 9th International Annual Conference

Friday, November 24th 2017, 1.30 pm - 3.30 pm

The panel deals with the question what the revival of the national and the reactionary mean for the concept of international order. Theories of not too distant a past described a “New World Order” as a system of closely co-operating, likeminded states acting in a globalised and cosmopolitan spirit. For such concepts, the outcome of some referenda and elections, a strengthened populist right in many states and enhanced national egotism in foreign relations during the past months have come as an existential threat to a peaceful order, even though antagonist descriptions and first indicators triggering dystopian visions date further back. The dominance of “the West” seems to be endangered and with it, it appears, the international rule of law. Contributions to this panel will address contradictions and self-deceptions in such a narrative, demonstrate that the “liberal world” has always been a fragile notion and that elements of the liberal construct of order have even been used to its disadvantage. The question will be what such analyses contribute to a better understanding of the present crisis and whether lessons can be learned.

Chair: Prof. Dr. Stefan Kadelbach (Goethe University)

Born 1959; 1979-84 studies of literature and law at Tuebingen and Frankfurt; 1986 studies at Academy of Administration in Speyer and Hague Academy of International Law, 1987/88 at University of Virginia; 1984-87 preparatory civil service; 1991 dissertation (Dr. jur.) on peremptory norms of public international law; 1996 PhD (habilitation) on administrative law under the influence of EU law; 1997-2004 professor (tenure) at the University of Muenster (Westphalia). Guest professor and lecturer at the University of Virginia (1999), the European University Institute (2000), the Institute of State and Law of the Russian Academy of Sciences (2002/03) and at Chuo University Tokyo (2004). Since 2004 at Goethe University Frankfurt. Director of the Institute of Public Law, member of the Cluster of  Excellence “The Formation of Normative Orders”. Since 2014 Rapporteur of the International Law Association’s Human Rights Committee. Working Fields: Constitutional law, public international law and EU law, with an emphasis on foreign relations powers, federalism, multi-level governance, human rights and theory of international law.

Lecture 1
Prof. Dr. Vivienne Jabri
(King‘s College London)

Crisis and World Order: A Postcolonial Political Ontology

Liberal understandings of the international order are largely framed in terms of a universalist ontology, one that has no limits beyond those attributed to the constraints of an anarchical structure that is nevertheless historically tamed by the rules and norms of affiliation. The so-called ‘crisis’ is attributed to the emergence of political forces in the West deemed to have rejected globalisation in favour of a ‘return’ to nationalist or protectionist politics. Irrespective of the questionable assumptions related to the genesis of this crisis, what is evident is that the West remains the assumed self-inscribed author of the international and its discursive and institutional trajectories as we move further into our late modernity. The aim of this paper is not only to provide a critique of such a perspective, but to ask, as I have done in my writings, what does the international look like when seen from the vantage point of the postcolonial international? When seen thus, the liberal international order is complicit in the enactment of twenty-first century modes of colonisation the enabling conditions for which emerge precisely from the historical normative structuring of the international in hierarchically ordained terms that render the postcolonial vulnerable and always precarious. At the same time, the postcolonial international can be seen as struggling to re-instantiate the limits of the international, the recent transgressions of which, through militarised interventionism, have indeed generated the crisis of the present.

Vivienne Jabri is Professor of International Politics in the Department of War Studies, King’s College London, Coordinator of the Research Centre for International Relations, and Director of the ESRC London Interdisciplinary Social Science Doctoral Training Partnership. Her research draws on and develops critical, poststructural, and postcolonial social and political theory, with particular reference to international theory. Her current research and writing focus on war/violence and conceptions of political community and the limits of the international. She serves on the Editorial Boards of the journals International Political Sociology, Security Dialogue, and the ISA’s Journal of Global Security Studies. Her books include Postcolonial Subject: Claiming Politics/Governing Others in Late Modernity (Routledge, 2012), War and the Transformation of Global Politics (Palgrave Macmillan 2007 and 2010), Discourses on Violence (Manchester University Press 1996), and Mediating Conflict (Manchester University Press 1990). She has also published in leading International Relations journals, including the European Journal of International Relations, the Review of International Studies, International Political Sociology, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, Security Dialogue, Peacebuilding, and International Theory.

Lecture 2
Prof. Dr. Christopher Daase (Goethe University)

The Contradictions of the Liberal World Order

For years the liberal international order was seen challenged by emerging authoritarian powers like China, India and Russia. Now it turns out that world order is rather undermined from within, i.e. by states which once championed the ideas of international liberalism: international institutions, free trade, human rights and democracy. But it would be shortsighted to blame only Trump and the Brexiteers for these developments. Rather we have to investigate more closely the inherent contraditions of liberal internationalism, its promises and lies, its benefits and faults to understand it’s current crisis.

Christopher Daase is Professor for International Organizations at Goethe University Frankfurt and Deputy Director of the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF). Previously he held the Chair in International Relations at the University of Munich and was Senior Lecturer at the University of Kent at Canterbury as well as Director of the Programme on International Conflict Analysis at the Brussels School of International Studies. Educated at Universities in Hamburg, Freiburg and Berlin, he became SSRC-MacArthur Fellow in International Peace and Security and was Research Fellow at Harvard University and the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, CA. His research centres on theories of international relations, security issues and international institutions. As member of theCluster of Excellence “The Formation of Normative Orders” at the University of Frankfurt he currently works on changing patterns of legitimacy with regard to the use of force, rule and resistance in international politics, and the informalization of international relations.

Lecture 3
Dr. Stefan Kroll (Goethe University)

The Crisis of the Liberal World Order: And the Politics of its Defense

The debate on the liberal world order, and its crisis, is plagued by two big puzzles. The first is the issue of what are the values and expectations that make the liberal order. The second concerns the actors that constitute the liberal world. While the presentation will address both facets of the debate, the facet of norms as well as the facet of community, the vantage point will be the question of inclusion and exclusion. The crisis of theliberal order to a  large degree is a crisis of the community of liberal states. While some important actors seem to distance themselves from this community, like the US under President Trump, other actors refer to elements of the liberal order from the outside, like for example China in the context of free trade. The aim of this presentation is to take a closer look at the defenses of elements of the liberal order. In many cases these defenses do not weaken the crisis but rather deepen the fragility of the liberal order as a formation of norms and  collective identity. The aim of this presentation is to point out the risks but also the potentials of this fragility for the emergence and application of international norms.

Stefan Kroll is postdoctoral researcher at Goethe University Frankfurt and the Cluster of Excellence “The Formation of Normative Orders”. Prior to this appointment, Kroll worked at the LOEWE Research Focus “Extra-Judicial and Judicial Conflict Resolution” (Frankfurt), the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity (Göttingen), the Munk School of Global Affairs (Toronto), and the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History (Frankfurt). Trained in social sciences, Kroll studies norms in international relations,  informality in law and international politics as well as the politics of international law. Stefan Kroll has published in edited volumes and international peer reviewed journals. He is co-editor of the special issue of the Politische Vierteljahresschrift 2017 entitled “Politik und Verantwortung”. Kroll received several grants and scholarships. In 2011, his work was awarded the Otto-Hahn-Medal of the Max Planck Society.


Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, Campus Westend
Max-Horkheimer-Str. 2
Gebäude "Normative Ordnungen", EG 01 und EG 02






  • Prof. Dr. Stefan Kadelbach, Professor für Öffentliches Recht an der Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main und Principal Investigator des Excellenzclusters „Die Herausbildung normativer Ordnungen“
  • Dr. Stefan Kroll, Postdoktorand am Exzellenzcluster "Die Herausbildung normativer Ordnugnen"
  • Dr. Stefan Kroll, Postdoktorand am Exzellenzcluster "Die Herausbildung normativer Ordnugnen"
  • Prof. Dr. Hauke Brunkhorst, Universität Flensburg


Event report: Click here...

Presented by:
Cluster of Excellence "The Formation of Normative Orders"


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