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In contemporary global politics, international organizations play an enormous role. To most of the world, they symbolize the hope for international peace and security through global cooperation and mutual economic development. Examples of international organizations include the United Nations (UN), the World Bank (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development), the International Committee of the Red Cross, and Greenpeace. Most international organizations operate as part of one or more international regimes. An international regime is a set of rules, standards, and procedures that govern national behaviour in a particular area. Examples of international regimes include arms control, foreign trade, and Antarctic exploration. International organizations are often central to the functioning of an international regime, giving structure and procedures to the “rules of the game” by which nations must play. For example, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the European Union (EU) are key organizations that define the international trade regime.
1.2 Meaning and Nature of International Organisation
In general, international organisation stands for membership group that operates across national borders for specific purposes. The idea of international organisation reflects the cooperative arrangement instituted among states, usually by a basic agreement, to perform some mutually advantageous functions implemented through periodic meetings and staff activities. The Penguin Dictionary of International Relations defines international organisation as “formal institutional structures transcending national boundaries which are created by multilateral agreement among nation states. Their purpose is to foster international cooperation in areas such as security, law, economic and social matters, and diplomacy.” However, in the modern sense, an international organization, or more formally intergovernmental organization (IGO), is an organization, such as the United Nations, European Community or the WTO, with sovereign states or other IGOs as members. Such organizations function according to the principles of intergovernmentalism, which means that unanimity is required. The European Union is however an exception to this rule in some areas. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are private organizations that can also be international in scope. Generally and correctly used, however, the term “international organization” is reserved for intergovernmental organizations only. It is in this sense that the term “international organization” is used in this lesson. Bennett identifies the characteristics of international organisation that include: 1. a permanent organisation to carry on a continuing set of functions; 2. voluntary membership of eligible parties; 3. a basic instrument stating goals, structure, and methods of operation; 4. a permanent secretariat to carry on continuous administrative, research, and information functions. Legally speaking, the nature of an international organization is different from other organisations in the sense that the former must be established by a treaty providing it with legal recognition, and usually, in order to safeguard state sovereignty, operates at the level of consent, recommendation, and cooperation rather than through compulsion or enforcement. International organizations so established are subjects of international law, capable of entering into agreements among themselves or with states. Thus international organizations in a legal sense are distinguished from mere groupings of states, such as the G-8 and the G-77, neither of which have been founded by treaty, though in non-legal contexts these are sometimes referred to as international organizations as well. International organizations must also be distinguished from treaties; while all international organizations are founded on a treaty, many treaties (e.g., the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)) do not establish an international organization and rely purely on the parties for their administration.
1.3 Scope and Functions of International Organisations
In terms of scope. the formation of leagues and federations. rules of warfare. international organisations perform a varied number of useful functions within the state system. Their chief function is to provide the means of cooperation among states in areas in which cooperation provides advantages for all or large number of nations. But states. treaties. needing to minimise the effects of conflict. the Specialised Agencies. The fundamental idea and reality underlying modern international organisations involve diplomacy. The United Nations. and movements for world government. The United Nations. peaceful settlement of disputes. The UN and its various agencies are IGOs. In conflict situations. 1. it can coordinate with other organisations to avoid unsound competition or duplication of efforts. the regulation of the use of force. provides several major organs whose functions include the resolution of conflict. immunity from legal process of every kind. They not only work as a platform to take cooperative decisions but also the administrative tool for translating the decisions into action. broadly. as in some of the technical work of international organisations. international economic cooperation. universalism. conferences. In other words. modern international organisations have made available a new dimension beyond the previously existing channels of diplomacy and peaceful settlement. membership and membership criteria. collective security. They also provide multiple channels of communication among governments so that areas of accommodation may be explored and easy access will be available when problem arise. for example. Member nations have created each of these organizations to serve a purpose that those nations find useful. find the many and diverse agencies of international organisation useful for that end. Hundreds of IGOs operate in all parts of the world. Privileges for the representatives may include from personal arrest or detention and from seizer of their personal baggage. In other situations not involving conflict. So are most of the world’s economic coordinating institutions. 1. world travel. international social cooperation. The agents and servants who perform the functions of international organisations also possess privilege and immunities. the organisation is a subject of international laws and capable of enforcing them by bringing international claims. The role of international organisations in the contemporary world order depends on their legal recognition by the international community.International organizations also differ in its scope of functions.1 Intergovernmental organizations: Intergovernmental organizations have national governments as members. the rights to use codes and to receive papers or correspondence by courier or in sealed bags. Membership can range from as few as two member nations to virtually all nations. inviolability for all papers and documents. We must note that international organisations generally have no independent means of carrying out coercion. The . and immunity from jurisdiction. the development of international law. if states are willing to explore the possibilities of accommodation and compromise. and regional organisations provide multiple and continuous contact points through which accommodation can be reached. It can make treaties.4. peace movements. cultural relationship. cosmopolitanism. world communications. international organisations are endowed with certain privilege and immunities. and in respect of words written or spoken and all acts done by them in their capacity as representatives. cooperation is facilitated by the existence of these organisations for reaching agreements that have mutual advantages for all state concerned. To perform their functions effectively. international trade. such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). properties and representatives. into two main categories: intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) and international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs). freedom from direct taxes. international administration.4 Kinds of International Organizations Modern International organizations may be classified. International organisations are also entitled to the grant of privileges and immunities for their asset.
and world peace. 1. regional IGOs have experienced more success than global ones. and those with specific purposes have worked better than those with broad aims. communications. and cultural or historical links. Organization of Petroleum-Exporting Countries (OPEC).2 International Nongovernmental organizations: International Nongovernmental organizations are private organizations whose memberships and activities are international in scope.4. La Francophonie. it is entirely logical for them to create elaborate agencies of international organisations for these ends. and to lessen conflict.Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) seeks to coordinate the production and pricing policies of its 12 member states. or religion (Organization of the Islamic Conference). However. The increasing interdependence forced the modern state to search the areas of mutual advantage such as trade. and the African Union are also IGOs. NGOs do not possess the legal status of national governments. accommodate. African Union. Finally. Membership of some organizations (global organizations) is open to all the nations of the world. and ASEAN and so on. to solve problems not limited to national boundaries. such as Amnesty International. and 5800 international nongovernmental organisations (INGOs). 1. the European Union. In general. we may reasonably expect international organisations to also become increasingly diverse in number and purposes rather than to diminish in significance. the UN and other international forums recognize many NGOs as important political institutions. such as the UN. global and regional membership. economic development. Other organizations are only open to members from a particular region or continent of the world. the importance of international organisations has increased in the present interconnected and inter-dependent world. level of economic development or type of economy (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). It is also logical to assume that they will continue to be used by states as indispensable though limited tools for a wide variety of purposes. This category includes the United Nations and its specialized agencies and the World Trade Organization. like European Union. membership criteria. the International Chamber of Shipping. The WTO helps negotiate and monitor agreements among 128 nations to lower trade barriers. NATO. Since the trend of world events is toward increased contacts and a growing diversity of problems. All these IGOs and INGOs play a regular part in global politics and transnational socio-economic activities. and the International Committee of the Red Cross.6 Importance of International Organisations: While there are less than 200 governments in the global system. Greenpeace. the Latin Union). Military alliances. some organizations base their membership on other criteria: cultural or historical links (the Commonwealth of Nations. Although multinational corporations (MNCs) share many characteristics of NGOs. the Baptist World Alliance. Examples of NGOs include the Roman Catholic Church. and compromise to promote their common welfare. plus a similar number of less-well-established international caucuses and networks of NGOs. and political groupings. such as the Arab League. the International Olympic Committee. such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO). in so many areas. At this time. or the International Red Cross. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) seeks to regulate the flow of nuclear technology to developing nations. One sign of the important role of international organizations is how they have endured as international power relations shift. cooperate. they are not international organizations because they do not coordinate the actions of members for mutual gain. However. The IGOs can be further categories on the basis of the nature of their functioning. the Community of Portuguese Language Countries. there are approximately 300 intergovernmental organisations (IGOs). Since the states must. one might have expected the NATO military alliance to Russia and other formerly Communist countries in Eastern . or the International Coffee Organisation. the Soviet Union dissolved and the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States ended. In 1991. adjust.
S. The headquarters of the League moved to Geneva on November 1. The Covenant of the League of Nations was drafted by a special commission. the Charter was signed by 44 states. where the first general assembly of the League was held on November 15. especially influential Republicans Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts and William E. As the world shrinks. . Despite Wilson's efforts to establish and promote the League. The League held its first meeting in London on January 10. were entrusted to the League. both governments and individuals will continue to turn to International Organisations as an important way to address these problems and to protect their own interests. Borah of Idaho. President Woodrow Wilson and his advisor Colonel Edward M. The interdependence of nations in the modern world means that no single nation can dictate the outcome of international conflicts. the United States neither ratified the Charter nor joined the League due to opposition in the U.6 The Creation of the League of Nations: World War I (1914-18) brought an end to Concert of Europe and a scheduled third Hague peace conference. However. One might have expected NATO. the creation of the WTO did not cause smaller free-trade associations such as NAFTA to end. the international organisations may serve as useful tools of the states for their mutual cooperation. together with Wilson's refusal to compromise. Instead. the League of Nations objective was to maintain universal peace within the framework of the fundamental principles of the Pact accepted by its Members : to develop cooperation among nations and to guarantee them peace and security.Europe ceased to pose a threat to the capitalist democracies of Western Europe. But following the war. 1919. Therefore. and it was enthusiastically adopted by the Democratic U. the mosaic of International Organisations continues to expand. Initially. several international disagreements – between Sweden and Finland and between Greece and Bulgaria – were resolved peacefully. Senate. 1919. which was signed on June 28. 1920.S. including 31 states which had taken part in the war on the side of the Triple Entente or joined it during the conflict. the two concepts reappeared and were merged into the formation of the League of Nations. 1920. which retained the great power executive committee status of Concert in combination with the egalitarian universality of the Hague idea. Its first action was to ratify the Treaty of Versailles. The creation of the League was a centerpiece of Wilson's Fourteen Points for Peace. officially ending World War I. which defended Western European nations. the line between domestic and international problems becomes increasingly blurred. 2. In this situation. The first years of existence of the League of Nations were marked by great successes. particularly as new communications and information-processing technologies make international groups more practical and effective. which marked the beginnings of a Franco-German reconciliation. Born with the will of the victors of the First World War to avoid a repeat of a devastating war. but it did not. specifically the final point: "A general association of nations must be formed under specific covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike. 1920 with representatives from 41 nations in attendance. Nor can private groups and individuals rely on national governments to solve major world problems. The idea of the actual League of Nations appears to have originated with British Foreign Secretary Edward Grey. The Locarno Agreements signed in October 1925." The Paris Peace Conference accepted the proposal to create the League of Nations on January 25. In accordance with the provisions of the Pact. and the League was established by Part I of the Treaty of Versailles. for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1919. to go out of business. Similarly. House as a means of avoiding bloodshed like that of World War I. International events have their international implications.
of the mission of collective security of the League of Nations must nevertheless not make one overlook its success in. Roosevelt. the League of Nations handed over its properties and assets to the United Nations Organization. United Nations. in fact. In spite of these early successes. considerable number of conferences. economic and financial affairs and intellectual cooperation. founder of the new international organization. added to its demise from 1940. Franklin D. The concept of international organization was however firmly embedded in minds and on the 1st January 1942. what was from the beginning to be a secondary aspect of its objectives: international technical cooperation. . nor the annexation of Ethiopia by Italy in 1936. The unprecedented work on behalf of refugees carried out by the Norwegian Fridtjof Nansen from 1920 should also be stressed. On 26 June 1945. announced the term. became a Member in 1926. This fruitful work was validated by the ratification of more than one hundred conventions by the Member States. the alienation of part of its Member States and the generation of the war itself. the President of the United States. in areas as diverse as health and social affairs. Under its auspices. Dissolved at a final Assembly held in Geneva in April 1946. transport and communications. put forward to the Assembly the very first political project of a European Federal Union. Aristide Briand. nor that of Austria by Hitler in 1938. The United Nations Organization was born officially on 24th October 1945 when the signatory countries ratified the Charter.A direct consequence. politically. Germany. In 1929. In spite of its political failure. the delegate from France. beaten and excluded from the League by the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. intergovernmental committees and meetings of experts were held in Geneva. The powerlessness of the League of Nations to prevent further world conflict. the League of Nations did not manage to prevent neither the invasion of Mandchuria by Japan. the legacy of the League of Nations at the same time appears clearly in a number of principles stated by the Charter and in the competencies and experiences developed in the area of technical cooperation: the majority of the specialized institutions of the United Nations system can in fact be considered the legacy of the work initiated by the League of Nations. the Representatives of fifty countries meeting in San Francisco adopted the Charter of the United Nations. The failure.