The role of legitimacy-based non-state actors in decision-making beyond the state

Morag Goodwin's recent research has focused on the participation of non-state actors in the making of international law, both in terms of norm generation and implementation. In particular, it has attempted to situate the Romani claim to non-territorial nation status within the changing nature of governance at the international level. Where participation in the international system has traditionally been defined by effective control over territory, all actors have been divided into a state/ non-state dichotomy. However, as the boundaries of public and private become increasingly porous, such a dichotomy becomes ever more ineffective as a means of describing the exercise of authority on both the national and international plane.  Morag Goodwin's recent research has focused on the participation of non-state actors in the making of international law, both in terms of norm generation and implementation. In particular, it has attempted to situate the Romani claim to non-territorial nation status within the changing nature of governance at the international level. Where participation in the international system has traditionally been defined by effective control over territory, all actors have been divided into a state/ non-state dichotomy. However, as the boundaries of public and private become increasingly porous, such a dichotomy becomes ever more ineffective as a means of describing the exercise of authority on both the national and international plane.

Instead, a distinction based upon capacity and legitimacy is proposed, whereby all actors are distinguished according to the degree of either that they possess, rather than by the degrees of personality proposed by the ICJ. Legitimacy-based actors sit at the nexus of private and public, as private actors making a claim of public legitimacy and thus to the exercise of degrees of public power. For legitimacy-based actors (those that make a claim to original authority), where nationhood remains the prime vehicle of the claim to recognition at the international level, their claim to recognition is one of a self-constituting, potentially self-governing, entity. Whether the claim is plausible in terms of self-government or not i.e. whether it is recognised, will depend upon the capacity that the entity can muster.

However, national-type claims are special because of the fundamental importance they have to the individuals concerned. A lack of capacity should not prevent a legitimacy-based group from, at the very least, contesting the terms of their own non-participation. But is this the limit of what we can imagine for such entities? The purpose of this research is to better understand and thus to identify discursive space within the hegemonic narrative of international law that can allow legitimacy-strong/ capacity-weak actors to contest the ‘who', the ‘how' and the ‘what' of the international order.

Key aspects of the project: consideration of non-hegemonic spaces in international law; interaction with law and development; empirical analysis of the interaction of the transnational Romani movement with the UN apparatus.

Collaborators: 

 Dr. Ilona Klimová-Alexander (Geneva)

Leader Profile: 
Dr. Morag Goodwin , Faculty of Law, Tilburg Institute of Law, Technology and Society (TILT)
Publications: 

Romani Lessons for European citizenship: from an imaginary to an imagined citizenship?, Paper presented at the "50 Years of European Integration conference", Maastricht, 23-24 March 2007; to be published in a collected volume, Spring 2008

THE ROMANI CLAIM TO NON-TERRITORIAL NATIONHOOD: TAKING LEGITIMACY-BASED CLAIMS SERIOUSLY IN INTERNATIONAL LAW. Ph.D. Dissertation. European University Institute, Florence 2006

The Romani claim to non-territorial nation status: recognition from an international legal perspective, (2004) 1 ROMA RIGHTS 54

Visibility on the International Stage: the ERRC delegation at the World Conference Against Racism, (2001) 4 ROMA RIGHTS 41