Multiplicity, hybridity and normativity: disputes about the UN convention against corruption in Germany

Max Lesch (2020)

International Relations. Online first

Abstract. In 2014, Germany became the 173rd state to ratify the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) – after more than ten years of disputes in the German parliament. To make sense of the protracted debates about ratifying UNCAC, the article follows the recent introduction of Luc Boltanski’s pragmatic sociology to International Relations (IR). I argue that this approach opens new avenues for researching normativity in hybrid arrangements of multiple, overlapping orders of worth and through ongoing tests of the right evaluation of a situation. I show that the belayed ratification of UNCAC in Germany was the result of the hybridity inherent to norms against corruption. In the debates, members of the German parliament relied on competing normative inventories to translate the term ‘public official’ to the German context and to settle the meaning of corruption. This article contributes to IR norm research by unpacking normative multiplicity and contradictions that undergird international norms and disputes about them.

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