Why States Act Through Formal International Organizations
Kenneth W. Abbott
Arizona State University
University of Chicago
Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 42, 1998
States use formal international organizations (IOs) to manage both their everyday interactions and more dramatic episodes, including international conflicts. Yet contemporary international relations theory does not explain the existence or form of IOs. This article addresses the question of why states use formal organizations by investigating the functions IOs perform and the properties that enable them to perform those functions. Starting with a rational-institutionalist perspective that sees IOs as enabling states to achieve their ends, the authors also examine power and distributive questions and the role of IOs in creating norms and understandings. We identify centralization and independence as the key properties of formal organizations, and illustrate their importance with a wide array of examples.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 31
Keywords: International relations, international organizations, politics
Date posted: September 10, 2009
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