The Concept of International Organization

Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law & International Law (MPIL) Research Paper No. 2020-27

In: Jan Klabbers (ed.), Cambridge Companion to International Organizations Law, Cambridge: CUP, 2021, forthcoming

21 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2020 Last revised: 12 Aug 2020

See all articles by Angelo Golia

Angelo Golia

Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law

Anne Peters

Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law

Date Written: July 23, 2020

Abstract

The chapter outlines the legal concept of international organization. We map the debates on the traditional defining elements and the broader theoretical paradigms where the concept has been traditionally embedded. We argue that relatively well-established theoretical frameworks no longer match reality. Therefore we need a legal concept of international organization that is both sufficiently specific to have an analytical value for legal examination and sufficiently broad for not missing out entities which are apt to shape the normative situation of individuals or to deploy substantial direct or indirect legal effects for the fate of nations and for the integrity of our planet. We conceive of “international organization” as a cluster concept which does not depend on a set of fixed criteria. Some entities are in the core of the concept, others are more on the fringes. Besides actors which are inter-state in form, other entities with multiple legal bases (public and private, international and domestic) and with a hybrid membership (states, civil society, even commercial) may be qualified as international organizations if they are entrusted with competences to fulfil tasks in the global public interest and feature a certain degree of autonomy. The concept should also encompass actors devoid of legal personality when they are sufficiently structured and stable to distinguish them from mere networks and ad hoc cooperation. Ultimately and more radically, international law as part and parcel of a global legal landscape necessitates the concept of a global organization.

Keywords: international organizations; international institutions; global law, international legal personality, autonomy, accountability, network

Suggested Citation

Golia, Angelo Jr and Peters, Anne, The Concept of International Organization (July 23, 2020). Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law & International Law (MPIL) Research Paper No. 2020-27, In: Jan Klabbers (ed.), Cambridge Companion to International Organizations Law, Cambridge: CUP, 2021, forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3659012 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3659012

Angelo Jr Golia (Contact Author)

Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law ( email )

Im Neuenheimer Feld 535
69120 Heidelberg, 69120
Germany

Anne Peters

Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law ( email )

Im Neuenheimer Feld 535
69120 Heidelberg, 69120
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.mpil.de

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