The Appointment of Executive Heads of International Organizations
Excerpted from the Chapter 'Executive Heads,' in Jacob Katz Cogan, Ian Hurd and Ian Johnstone (eds), The Oxford Handbook of International Organizations (Oxford University Press, 2016), 822–838.
9 Pages Posted: 27 Nov 2013 Last revised: 27 Mar 2018
Date Written: January 1, 2016
This essay surveys the different procedures by which international organizations appoint their executive heads — whether designated president, secretary-general, managing director, or some other title. Such procedures vary according to their formal processes, ranging from the appointment by a plenary body or a subgroup to cases in which appointment is delegated to a specific set of member states, as well as in the informal influence that certain member states may have. Regional and national criteria may play a role, including various forms of rotation by region or alphabetical order of member states. Less attention tends to be paid to the qualifications of executive heads. The full chapter includes a discussion of the appointment as well as functions and independence of executive heads of international organizations.
Keywords: international organizations, intergovernmental organizations, executive head, president, secretary-general, managing director, United Nations, World Bank, IMF, NATO, ASEAN, WTO
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