International organizations take their decisions according to vastly diverse rules. Besides unanimity and the simple majority rule, international organizations have put in place various forms of qualified majority voting with different procedures for the weighting of votes or they have given veto power to individual states or groups of states. In some cases, member states even chose to delegate certain decisions to independent agencies within the organization.
Past research has explained this variation primarily in functional terms. Accordingly, member states of a given organization will choose those modes of decision-making, which guarantee that the issues in question are handled in the most efficient and effective manner. However, this functional perspective neglects the fact that rules of decision-making always touch upon fundamental questions of justice. Negotiations on decision-making rules between states do not only deal with questions of procedural efficiency. Rather, questions of recognition (who is entitled to take part in decision-making in the first place?) and procedural justice (how are opportunities to influence decision-making distributed among the states involved?) are always at stake too. Thus, negotiations on new decision-making rules or reforms of existing ones can constitute focal points for justice conflicts, for example when regional groups of states demand their just representation in international decision-making bodies.
The project focuses on these questions of justice, which have been largely neglected so far, and poses two research questions: To what extent do conflicts of justice influence attempts to set up new modes of decision-making or to reform existing ones? And how just are the resulting decision-making procedures of various international organizations? To this end, the project, first, surveys the modes of decision-making of a cross-section of international organizations. In a second step, the project identifies the positions of the actors involved in negotiating or challenging these rules and the narratives they employed to justify their positions. On this basis, conflicts of justice can be determined and their relevance and impact on the modes of decision-making be identified.