Heuristics and Repertoires of Collective Security: a Comparative Analysis in the Field of International Law

The profes­sorial chair of the head of the research group at the Justus Liebig Univer­sity Gießen is part of the inter­disciplinary Colla­borative Research Centre/Transregio 138 "Dynamics of Security". Since April 2014, resear­chers from the Philipps-Universität Marburg, the Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen and the Herder Institute for Histo­rical Research on Eas­tern Central Euro­pe have been working on the topic "Dyna­mics of Security" in the SFB/TRR 138. They exa­mine how no­tions of secu­rity deve­loped in history and how they ente­red the politi­cal process. The focus lies on the repre­sentation and produc­tion of security - processes that are inter­dependent and whose relation­ship is to be resear­ched in histori­cally different dyna­mics and process structures. The SFB/TRR 138 concep­tualizes these dynamic processes as 'securitization'.

On the basis of the fin­dings gained in the first fun­ding period, the Inter­national Law-focused sub­project A04 will inves­tigate in the second phase whether and under what con­ditions the securiti­zation of inter­state relations leads not only to proces­ses of institu­tionalization under inter­national law, but also to the collecti­vization of inter­national security.

The research incentive for sub­project A04 stems from a chan­ging dynamic of inter­national law. Since the end of the 20th century, inter­national security has no longer been pursued pri­marily through collec­tive action institu­tionalized under inter­national law, such as uni­versal collec­tive action or the establish­ment and active mainte­nance of inter­national security organi­zations, but rather through the increasing (self-)isolation of some actors and uni­lateral or bi­lateral inter­vention. This develop­ment stands in cont­rast to the efforts to­wards legali­zation and institutiona­lization, especially after the two world wars in the 20th century, and the asso­ciated collectivi­zation of inter­national security. The question of the relation­ship between securiti­zation on the one hand and processes of institutiona­lization and collectivization under inter­national law on the other is based on this in the pioneering pre­liminary phase of the two major inter­national peacekeeping organi­zations of the 20th century, the League of Nations and the United Nations.

The approach (further) deve­loped and concre­tized in the first funding period in the dis­cussion of political science theo­ries for the collabo­rative project, which explores this from the pers­pective of securiti­zation, opens up through its question about the classi­fication of a situation as security-relevant, The heuristics and the available options for action (repertoires) that are deci­sive in this context provide a helpful perspec­tive, espe­cially for inter­national juris­prudence, if legali­zation and institutionali­zation as well as the develop­ment of the concept of collective security are under­stood as reper­toires with which perceived security problems are dealt with.

At the centre of the se­cond fun­ding phase are three PhD-projects, two of which deal directly with the practice of the League of Nations Council and the UN Security Council in comparison, while the third deals with the principle of distinction under inter­national humani­tarian law. All three papers ask under which con­ditions and on the basis of which heu­ristics a situation is classi­fied as relevant to security (in the case of the League of Nations the definition of "war" or "threat with war" as a "matter for the whole Confede­ration" within the meaning of Art. 11 of the Statutes); in the case of the UN Security Council the definitions in Art. 39 of the UN Charter; in the case of the principle of distinction, the existence of an armed conflict (inter­national or non-international) and what reper­toires are available to respond (collectively) to it ("the measures appropriate to the effective protection of inter­national peace". These PhD projects are supple­mented by three additional projects jointly pursued by the sub­project leaders, which develop a security perspective on the law of inter­national organi­zations, seek to grasp the institutional design of the implemen­tation of humanitarian norms under inter­national law as a repertoire and are intended to present the subproject approach for dis­cussion at a conference on inter­national law analysis of the peace­keeping practice of the Council of Nations.

Further information on the projects first funding stage are available on the website of SFB 138.

Project director:


Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)