Constitutional politics in international relations

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It is widely agreed that domestic and international politics are rooted in very different types of order, but this insight is deeply flawed. The potential similarity of domestic and international order can best be seen at historical turning points when the organization of the order is up for grabs - internationally, these moments tend to come after major wars. This article argues that at these moments, order formation has taken the form of constitution building, where basic limits are sought on the exercise of power and the scope of politics. Constitutions are compromises or gambits whereby a hegemonic or leading state agrees to limit its power - that is, it agrees to operate within an institutionalized political process according to a set of rules and principles - in exchange for the agreement of secondary states to do so as well. Moreover, the domestic structures of the contracting states will matter - states that are similar will be better able to convey assurances and democratic states will be most likely to solve the commitment problems necessary to construct constitutional orders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-177
Number of pages31
JournalEuropean Journal of International Relations
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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