Legitimacy and international public authority : the evolution of IAEA safeguards
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Using the IAEA as a case for focused study, this thesis argues that the construction and reconstruction of the Secretariat’s legitimacy has been dependant upon several different legitimating influences at different stages in the IAEA’s evolution. In brief, it will be demonstrated that early on, in the absence of clear non-proliferation norms, power wielded by critical and self-interested actors functioned as the primary legitimator – promoting early development and insulating the organization from outside pressures. However, based upon this particular case, I will also argue that state power alone is insufficient to guarantee legitimacy and the exercise of international public authority, especially in light of the degree to which these institutions are increasingly expected to challenge the territorial sovereignty of member states. In order for an organization to acquire adequate legitimacy to exercise public authority over the long term, it must develop beyond the point at which state power is instrumental, and assume a degree of organizational autonomy. This happened with the evolution of organizational expertise recognizing the IAEA’s bureaucracy as an authority, development of specific nonproliferation rules and norms that placed the IAEA in authority, and “right” processes within the bureaucracy that reinforced these and other substantive norms, positioning the Secretariat as a trusted agent within international society. Thus, the development of a professional identity, successful norms and rules, and the elaboration of a “right” process were key to the creation of legitimacy, and as a consequence, the Secretariat’s exercise of public authority in support of the safeguards regime.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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