The Problem of Non-compliance: Knowledge Gaps and Moments of Contestation in Global Governance

Hannes Hansen-Magnusson*, Antje Vetterlein, Antje Wiener

*Corresponding author for this work

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How do we account for norm (non-)compliance in complex situations of global governance? Instead of emphasising power and diverging interests, this research note develops an innovative framework by arguing for a need to account for the social foundation of norms and the processes of norm contestation among relevant stakeholders. It comprises three crucial elements: first, the relevant stakeholders that form around specific policies; second, the types of knowledge about the policy object at stake; and finally, the knowledge gaps across stakeholders and their strategies to overcome them. Based on these considerations, we advance a framework of three pillars of ‘vested interests’, ‘vice’ and ‘virtue’: given, first, the diversity of stakeholders in policy-making and their vested interests, we assume, secondly, an increased likelihood for norm contestation. For some this constitutes a vice. However, we argue, thirdly, that open deliberation has the potential to lead to positive implications for governance arrangements and is therefore a virtue for norm compliance. Applying this framework to the example of the use of outer space, we show how our approach can address what we call the ‘lasting reality’ of global governance, namely the regular confrontation of culturally embedded normativity that stems from the increased diversity of actors in the global realm.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of International Relations and Development
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)636-656
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020

Bibliographical note

Published online: 26. July 2018


  • Global governance
  • Norms
  • Contestation
  • Normativity
  • Legitimacy
  • Knowledge

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