intergovernmental organisation

GC: n

S: BMJ – (last access: 26 November 2020); MAM – (p.2) (last access: 26 November 2020).

N: 1. – intergovernmental (adj): Formed by the prefix “inter-” (from Latin inter “among, between, betwixt, in the midst of”, attested in the 15c) and the adjective “governmental” (attested in 1744 which is made up of the noun “government”, late 14c., “act of governing or ruling;” 1550s, “system by which a thing is governed” (especially a state), from Old French governement “control, direction, administration” (Modern French gouvernement), from the verb governer “to steer, be at the helm of; govern, rule, command, direct,” from Latin gubernare “to direct, rule, guide, govern,” originally “to steer, to pilot”, and the suffix “-al” which forms adjectives from nouns or other adjectives, “of, like, related to, pertaining to,” from Middle English -al, -el, from French or directly from Latin -alis).
organisation (n): early 15c., organisacioun, “structure of the body or its parts;” mid-15c., “act or process of organizing, the arranging of parts in an organic whole” from Medieval Latin organizationem (nominative organizatio), noun of action from past-participle stem of organizare, from Latin organum“instrument, organ”. By 1707 it also applied to the sense of “that which is organised” and “an organised body of persons” in 1829. The meaning “system, establishment, constitution” is from 1873.
. Abbreviation: IGO.
2. Nascent international organisations were formed by Greek city-states and were envisioned by European writers such as Pierre Dubois (c. 1250–c. 1320) and Émeric Crucé (c. 1590–1648), they did not appear in their contemporary form until the 19th century. Following the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, leaders of the major European powers met periodically, in a system of consultation known as the Concert of Europe, to attempt to preserve the status quo and to protect their governments from internal rebellion. Later in the 19th century, various international organisations, such as the International Telegraph Union (1865; now the International Telecommunication Union), were established to provide specialised services and to perform specific tasks. In 1899 and 1907 European and non-European states met to develop rules to regulate armaments and the conduct of war. These conferences produced the Hague Conventions, which included agreements on the peaceful settlement of war, the treatment of prisoners of war, and the rights of neutral states. These various meetings and agreements served as precursors to the international organisations of the 20th century, such as the League of Nations and the United Nations (UN). Spurred by the political and economic interdependencies and advances in communication and transportation that developed after World War II, the UN became the centrepiece of a network of international organisations.
3. The term intergovernmental organisation (IGO) refers to an entity created by treaty, involving two or more nations, to work in good faith, on issues of common interest.
4. The main purposes of IGOs were to create a mechanism for the world’s inhabitants to work more successfully together in the areas of peace and security, and also to deal with economic and social questions. In this current era of increasing globalisation and interdependence of nations, IGOs have come to play a very significant role in international political systems and global governance.
5. IGOs that are formed by treaties are more advantageous than a mere grouping of nations because they are subject to international law and have the ability to enter into enforceable agreements among themselves or with states.
6. IGOs are typically organised by their membership and by their purpose. For example, the UN is called a global organisation because all countries are allowed membership. Some IGOs are regional and limit their membership to states within the designated regions. Other IGOs are referred to as selective organisations because they base their membership on criteria other than geography. The Organisation of the Islamic Conference, for example, bases its membership on religious affiliation. OPEC, on the other hand, is comprised only of countries that produce oil. Specialized IGOs, such as NATO, limit their activities to a particular field. General IGOs have expertise on a wide variety of topics, such as the UN.
7. IGOs are distinguishable from nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) in that NGOs are formed by two or more individuals rather than by nations. NGOs are therefore typically independent of governments, are usually non-profit organisations, and receive at least a portion of their funding from private sources. IGOs have the financial and political support of its members.
8. The United Nations is the single largest IGO in the world. OPEC, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), NATO, the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU), and the Organisation of American States (OAS) are among the largest non-UN IGOs. However, smaller organisations still undertake interesting and challenging international work, such as the African Development Bank (ADB) and the Asian Development Bank.
9. A great milestone reached thanks to the efforts of an intergovernmental organisation is the Paris Agreement. At COP 21 in Paris, on 12 December 2015, Parties to the UNFCCC reached a landmark agreement to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future. The Paris Agreement builds upon the Convention and – for the first time – brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries to do so. As such, it charts a new course in the global climate effort.

S: 1. OED –,,,,, (last access: 26 November 2020). 2. EncBrit – 3 to 5. HLS – (last access: 26 November 2020). 6 to 8. HLS – (last access: 26 November 2020). 9. UNFCCC – (last access: 26 November 2020).

GV: intergovernmental organization (US)

S: TERMIUM PLUS – (last access: 27 November 2020); GDT – (last access: 27 November 2020).


CR: crime against humanityenforced disappearancegovernmenthuman rights, humanitarian organisation, International Criminal Lawinternational humanitarian law, international organisation, law of war, member state, monitoring and evaluation, non-governmental organisation, organisation, social services, State, violation of human rights, war crime.