Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law Logo Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law

You are here: Research Research Areas Public International Law International Public Authority

International Public Authority

About the Project:

International Public Authority provides the focus for a number of projects analyzing the public authority exercised by international institutions. A significant part of world public opinion regards international institutions with considerable ambivalence: many of these institutions have become powerful; quite a few of their activities raise serious doubts; nonetheless, they should be vested with more powers in order to better further common interests. World public opinion voices legitimacy concerns alongside regulatory demands which poses a serious challenge for these institutions. We share this ambivalent view of international institutions. In response, we propose a theory of international public law.  The purpose of this theory is to identify, reconstruct and develop that segment of public international law that governs the exercise of international public authority. Thereby, we aim at articulating world public opinion in the language of international law. International public law stands for the reconstruction and development of the legal regimes governing the activities of international institutions in light of their publicness. In this way, legal scholarship may contribute to improving the legitimacy and the effectiveness of these activities. The research project on the exercise of international public authority shares this purpose with similar projects such as Global Administrative Law or Global Constitutionalism.

Read our lead paper explaining the aims, objectives, and background of the project:

From Public International Law to International Public Law: Translating World Public Opinion into International Public Authority (2016, available on SSRN)


New Publication: Pedro Alejandro Villarreal Lizárraga: Pandemias y derecho: una perspectiva de gobernanza global. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Institudo de Investiganciones Jurídicas, Mexico 2019.

New Publication: Achilles Skordas: The European Union as post-national realist power, in: S. Blockmans and P. Koutrakos (eds.), Research Handbook on the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy. Elgar, Cheltenham 2018, 394-444.

New Publication: Matthias Goldmann: Public and Private Authority in a Global Setting: The Example of Sovereign Debt Restructuring, Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 25 (2018) 1, 331-363.

New Publication: Matthias Goldmann and Silvia Steininger (Eds.): Democracy and Financial Order: Legal Perspectives. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg 2018, 230 p.

New Publication: Joana Mendes and Ingo Venzke (Eds.): Allocating Authority: Who Should Do What in European and International Law? Hart Publishig, Oxford 2018, 321 p.

New Publication: Joana Mendes and Ingo Venzke (Eds.): The Idea of Relative Authority in European and International Law, International Journal of Constitutional Law 16 (2018) 1, 75-100.



The International Public Authority team organized two panels on "The Authoritarian Pushback and Institutional Resilience" at the 2018 Annual Conference of the International Society of Public Law (ICON-S) at the University of Hongkong.

More than a decade after the emergence of public law approaches to international institutions, such as Global Administrative Law, Global Constitutionalism, or International Public Authority, the international order has changed dramatically. The Trump administration and Brexit epitomize a growing trend against global governance. What had once been taken for granted – the proliferation of institutional institutions and the universality of democracy and human rights – is now being challenged on several fronts. Many governments and political parties stress their respective national interest and decide to opt out of, or terminate, international cooperation mechanisms. At the same time, most international institutions and courts carry on, sometimes under increasing financial and political constraints. The panels will discuss how the authoritarian, nationalist pushback affects the problem-solving capacity and the legitimacy of international institutions and courts as well as their resilience.

The first panel, focussing on international courts, featured presentations by Felix Lange (HU Berlin), Jorge Contesse (Rutgers Law School), Kristin Henrard (Erasmus University Rotterdam), Silvia Steininger (MPIL), and Pedro Villarreal (MPIL). The second panel, dealing with international economic institutions, comprised Francois Finck (Université libre de Bruxelles), Tan Hsien-Li (National University of Singapore), Qingxiu Bu (University of Sussex), Maurizia de Bellis (University of Rome "Tor Vergata"), and Matthias Goldmann (University of Frankfurt/MPIL).

Event Archive


Lead Publications on Courts:

Armin von Bogdandy and Ingo Venzke: In Whose Name? A Public Law Theory of International Adjudication. OUP 2014, 304 p.

  • German Version: Armin von Bogdandy and Ingo Venzke: In wessen Namen? Internationale Gerichte in Zeiten globalen Regierens. Frankfurt a.M., Suhrkamp 2014, 383 p. Click here for more information on this project (in German).
  • Spanish Version: Armin von Bogdandy and Ingo Venzke: ¿En nombre de quién? Una teoría de Derecho público sobre la actividad judicial internacional. Translated by Paula Andrea Acosta Alvarado. Bogotá, Colombia, Universidad del Externado de Colombia, 402 p.

Armin von Bogdandy and Ingo Venzke (eds.): International Judicial Lawmaking. Springer 2012, XVII, 509p., ISBN 978-3-642-29586-7. Pre-published as a special issue in German Law Journal 12 (2011), issue 5.


Lead Publication on International Organizations:

Armin von Bogdandy, Matthias Goldmann, and Ingo Venzke: From Public International to International Public Law: Translating World Public Opinion into International Public Authority, European Journal of International Law 28/1 (2017) 115-145

Armin von Bogdandy, Rüdiger Wolfrum, Jochen von Bernstorff, Philipp Dann, and Matthias Goldmann (eds.): The Exercise of Public Authority by International Institutions: Advancing International Institutional Law, Springer 2010, 1005 pages, ISBN 978-3-642-04530-1.

  • Reviews by Lorenzo Casini, International Organizations Law Review 9 (2012) 249–262, and Klaus W. Grewlich, Die Öffentliche Verwaltung (2012) 318-319.

A large number of the contributions to this book were pre-published as a special issue of the German Law Journal 9 (2008), issue 11.

All Publications

Related Projects and Partner Institutions

Since 2013, the project has been affiliated with the Cluster of Excellence "Formation of Normative Orders" at Goethe University Frankfurt through a cluster project on the exercise of public authority on the international, supranational and domestic levels, carried out at the Max Planck Institute.

Since 2015, project members have worked on issues of International Health Governance

The Project is supported by a network of researchers at other institutions:

  • Justus Liebig University, Gießen: Jürgen Bast, Chair for Public Law and European Law
  • Eberhard Karls University, Tübingen: Jochen von Bernstorff, Chair for Public Law, International Law, Constitutional Theory and Human Rights
  • Humboldt University, Berlin: Philipp Dann, Chair for Public and Comparative Law
  • Goethe University Frankfurt: Matthias Goldmann, Junior Professor of International Public Law and Financial Law
  • Universiteit van Amsterdam: Ingo Venzke, Project on the Architecture of Postnational Rulemaking


Related Individual Academic Qualification Projects



Project Team

Principal Investigator: Armin von Bogdandy

Project Manager: Matthias Goldmann and Silvia Steininger

Project Members: Kanad Bagchi, Franz Ebert, Achilles Skordas, Ximena Soley, Mateja Steinbrück Platise, Pedro Villareal, Benedict Vischer

Former Project Managers: Jochen von Bernstorff, Philipp Dann, Isabel Feichtner, Ingo Venzke

Research Assistant: Peter Pázmány