Conducting International Authority: Hammarskjold, the Great Powers and the Suez Crisis

Oxford University Press
Publication Type:
Journal Article
London Review of International Law, 2013, 1 (1), pp. 131 - 141
Issue Date:
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Anne Orfords International Authority and the Responsibility to Protect traces the lineage of international executive authority from its constitutive articulations, as practice, by reading Dag Hammarskjölds archives of office. Through her self-conscious historical accounting, Orford asks us to reconsider the received narrative of the emergence of the responsibility to protect (R2P) concept. The use of case studiesthe Suez and Congo crisesis not to facilitate a comparison with contemporary practices of protection, but rather to provide a foundation from which the reader can trace the construction of the R2P concept. In these remarks, I discuss how additional archival sources can add to Orfords account of the practices of international executive authority. These additional sources help to situate Hammarskjölds practices in relation to Great Power. I also seek to expand the basis of the case study account Orford providestaking the Suez Crisis as the subject of my commentsby examining the practices of authority not just as justification and rationalisation, but also as conduct.1 The question of conduct requires consideration of who `conducts authority in two senses: as conduct and as orchestration. Through such an account, tensions over conducting, composing, playing and reading become apparent, all of which might be seen as aspects of practice, but not all by the same individual nor indeed in fixed positions. By highlighting the orchestral aspects of `conducting I do not suggest passivity or subservience to Great Power, but imagine instead an interplay which, despite its tensions, seeks overall to produce a coherent form of performance, a harmony.
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