Why States Act Through Formal International Organizations

Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 42, 1998

31 Pages Posted: 10 Sep 2009

See all articles by Kenneth W. Abbott

Kenneth W. Abbott

Arizona State University

Duncan Snidal

University of Chicago

Date Written: 1998

Abstract

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.

Keywords: International relations, international organizations, politics

Suggested Citation

Abbott, Kenneth Wayne and Snidal, Duncan, Why States Act Through Formal International Organizations (1998). Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 42, 1998. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1470242

Kenneth Wayne Abbott (Contact Author)

Arizona State University ( email )

Box 877906
Tempe, AZ 85287-7906
United States
480-965-5917 (Phone)

Duncan Snidal

University of Chicago ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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