International Organizations

Alison Duxbury

in International Law

ISBN: 9780199796953
Published online March 2012 | | DOI:
International Organizations

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  • International Law
  • International Courts and Tribunals
  • Private International Law and Conflict of Laws
  • Public International Law


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Since World War II, both the number and the variety of international organizations operating in the international community has increased. Organizations range from large universal entities with broad political functions, such as the United Nations, to small regional organizations with relatively narrow activities, such as the Benelux. The proliferation of international organizations and the functions they perform have been matched by an increase in the powers granted to individual organizations and their organs by member states. This growth in organizational powers has led commentators to call for international organizations to be more democratic in their operations, to be more accountable to their members and third parties, and to be held responsible for violations of international law. These concerns are evident in more recent attention directed to international organizations—for example, debates surrounding the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom and calls for the United Nations’ immunity to be lifted in the face of allegations that it caused the cholera outbreak in Haiti. Although international organizations differ widely in terms of their membership, functions, powers, and geographical reach, they have a number of common features and face similar problems in terms of their institutional design. This has led to studies of the legal issues facing international organizations and to a growth in commentary on the law of international organizations, otherwise termed “international institutional law.” Such commentary may provide a general overview of the common legal issues facing international organizations or may focus on one specific problem. Readers interested in international relations approaches to the study of international organizations, including literature on specific organizations, should consult the Oxford Bibliographies article titled “International Organizations.”

Article.  14150 words. 

Subjects: International Law ; International Courts and Tribunals ; Private International Law and Conflict of Laws ; Public International Law

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