The concept of authority has become increasingly palatable to scholars in law, political science and philosophy when describing, explaining and assessing global governance. While many now seem to agree that applying authority to transnational relations opens fruitful arenas for legal, empirical and normative research, they rely on partly incompatible notions of authority, how it emerges out of and affects the social relations between key actors, and how it relates to legitimacy. In this paper, we introduce this special issue on transnational authority. We discuss why international authority has become a central concern in international studies and compare key contemporary conceptions of international authority, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses. We also present the different contributions to this issue, which further seek to clarify the concept and its application in law, political science and political theory, theoretically or empirically, assessing arenas where authority is or is not legitimately exercised and developing legal conceptions, which might be utilised to constrain the use of authority in international relations.
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Transnational Legal Theory Volume 4, Issue 3, 2013, available online: http://wwww.tandfonline.com/10.5235/20414005.4.3.315.