international organization

GC: n

S: (last access: 2 September 2014); UNTERM – (last access: 12 March 2013).

N: 1. An international organization can be defined, following the International Law Commission, as an ‘organization established by a treaty or other instrument governed by international law and possessing its own international legal personality’. International organizations generally have States as members, but often other entities can also apply for membership. They both make international law and are governed by it. Yet, the decision-making process of international organizations is often ‘less a question of law than one of political judgement’.
2. International organization, institution drawing membership from at least three states, having activities in several states, and whose members are held together by a formal agreement. The Union of International Associations, a coordinating body, differentiates between the more than 250 international governmental organizations (IGOs), which have been established by intergovernmental agreements and whose members are states, and the approximately 6,000 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), whose members are associations or individuals.
3. IGOs range in size from three members to more than 185 (e.g., the United Nations, UN), and their geographic representation varies from one world region (e.g., the Organization of American States) to all regions (e.g., the International Monetary Fund). Whereas some IGOs are designed to achieve a single purpose (e.g., the World Intellectual Property Organization), others have been developed for multiple tasks (e.g., the North Atlantic Treaty Organization). Their organizational structures can be simple or highly complex depending on their size and tasks.
4. Although nascent international organizations 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.

S: 1. (last access: 31 July 2015). 2, 3 & 4. EncBrit – (last access: 31 July 2015).


CR: humanitarian organization, intergovernmental organisation, non-governmental organization, organization.