Het Constitutionele Perspectief en de Coming of Age van Internationale Organisaties (The Constitutional Perspective and the Coming of Age of International Organizations)
DE REGELS EN HET SPEL: OPSTELLEN OVER RECHT, FILOSOFIE, LITERATUUR EN GESCHIEDENIS, pp. 73-85, J. H. Reestman, A. Schrauwen, M. Van Montfrans, J. H. Jans, eds., TMC Asser Press, 2011
Amsterdam Center for International Law No. 2012-02
15 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2012
Date Written: January 30, 2012
This vignette traces the coming of age of international organizations as international legal actors. It argues that the political and legal appraisal of the international organization – and thus, its identity - since the rise of organizations in the mid-nineteenth century has passed through different stages. The perspective on international organizations has started out as functional, which in the terminology of this paper denotes a perspective in which organizations are vehicles for the activities of states. In the middle of the twentieth century the perspective on IOs has become predominantly institutional. This refers to a vision of organization as systems, with a coherent body of rules and a degree of autonomy vis-à-vis the member states. The external aspect of this vision is usually discussed in terms of ‘international legal personality’. Currently, notably since the turn of the Millennium, we witness the rise of a constitutional perspective on international organizations. The paper uses a thick version of the term: international organizations appear as a system not only because of the coherence of internal rules and component elements (the formal-constitutional aspect) but also because of the incorporation of substantive norms (the substantive-constitutional aspect). This makes for a framework which goes beyond the institutional identity of organizations, since it incorporates also certain ‘fundamental values’, linked to human rights or theories of justice. Arguably, it is only in this newly acquired constitutional identity that international organizations have come of age and can participate as mature legal actors in the international arena. This is notwithstanding the complicating fact that in the organization’s development from a functional, to an institutional to a constitutional order traces of all three identities persist.
Note: Downloadable Document is in Dutch.
Keywords: public international law, law of international organizations, sources of international law
JEL Classification: K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation