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Article

The evolution of international organizations (IOs) can be divided into three phrases. The first phase started with the Congress of Vienna (1814–15), which set in motion a series of innovations, inventions, and learning processes, shaping the core of what we now call IOs. The second phase of international organization in the nineteenth century is characterized by the building of permanent institutions. This is reflected in the new and dominant term “union” for organization. The term “public international union” (PIU) became the overarching term for the by intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. PIUs have been regarded as “early IGOs” which later transformed into specialized agencies of the UN system, with their subdivisions as institutional prototypes for the League of Nations and the UN. The third phase of international organization is the continued existence of IOs during the first half of the twentieth century. The outbreak of World War I can be regarded as an exogenous shock to the evolutionary development of IOs. During the war, the concept of international organization was not lost and was even central to the thinking on international politics in the UK and the US. Detailed plans for an international peace organization, using the term “international government”, were produced and discussed by politicians and citizens. These plans, which became part of the institutional strategy devised by the US, strongly reflected the organizational experiences of the PIUs.

Article

An intergovernmental organization, or international organization (IO), is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states (referred to as member states), or of other intergovernmental organizations. They are important aspects of public international law. IOs are established by a treaty that acts as a charter creating the group, and these treaties are formed when lawful representatives (governments) of several states go through a ratification process, providing the IO with an international legal personality. IOs also take part in issues regarding migration and the prevention of ethnic conflicts. Scholars create a general criterion in defining “politically significant” ethnic groups that can be used to help bring into focus ethnicity in regard to IO involvement. Only the groups that have suffered or benefited from discrimination and have been politically mobilized are included in this criterion. This standard is beneficial when considering IOs as they will only become involved in ethnic group/state relations for groups such as these. Meanwhile, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is an intergovernmental organization that provides services and advice concerning migration to governments and migrants, including internally displaced persons, refugees, and migrant workers. From its roots as an operational logistics agency, the IOM has widened its scope to become the leading international agency working with governments and civil society to advance the understanding of migration issues, encourage social and economic development through migration, and uphold the human dignity and well-being of migrants.

Article

An international organization (IO) is an ordering principle and a method of conducting international relations. It may refer to formal institutions set up by more than three sovereign states through multilateral treaties to achieve, with the support of a permanent secretariat, shared interests, and desirable objectives. IOs are a byproduct of the European Westphalian anarchical interstate system of international relations and can be traced back to the “Concert of Europe” and to institutions set up throughout the 19th century to facilitate interstate international economic or technical cooperation. After a pause in the 1910s and 1930s, the number of institutions dealing with an ever-expanding range of transnational issues grew exponentially in the second half of the 20th century, becoming a ubiquitous component of the international relations landscape. Numerous contributing factors have accounted for this momentous transformation in interstate relations, and these developments have also fed a steady stream of contending and constantly shifting theoretical approaches to international relations within IO scholarship. There is now a glut of theories, each making different assumptions about the nature of international politics, focusing attention on different aspects of international organization and propounding widely diverging conclusions about the role and functions of IOs. There is, however, a trend among these: the legal/historical tradition which initially provided the intellectual lens through which international organizations were understood has given way to a mix of realist regime theory and liberal intergovernmentalism views.

Article

Various chemicals and heavy metals are released into the environment through industrial and manufacturing processes, agricultural use, the use of industrial and consumer goods, and the mismanagement and dumping of wastes. Such releases can cause major environmental and human health problems, both at the local level and across national borders. International cooperation can be a way of addressing the risks posed by hazardous substances and wastes. States and intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) have engaged in technical collaboration and policy-making on these issues for more than a century. Today, a host of IGOs work on policy-making and management of hazardous substances and wastes, including the International Labor Organization, the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety, and the Global Environment Facility. Multilateral cooperation on hazardous substances and wastes takes place under three separate treaties: the 1989 Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, the 1998 Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, and the 2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. A substantial amount of scholarly literature covers numerous issues associated with hazardous substances and wastes, such as multilateral and national waste controls, persistent organic pollutants, and regional environmental policy developments. The case of hazardous substances and wastes can be used to further investigate the characteristics of vertical and horizontal institutional linkages and linkage politics, as well as the diffusion of principles, norms, ideas, and regulatory approaches across multilateral forums and national societies.

Article

The emerging discipline of Political Science recognized international organization as an object of study earlier (i.e., around 1910) than International Law, which through an engagement with League of Nations ideals began to follow the developments of international organizations (IOs) during the 1920s, and History, which kept its focus on states and war rather than on IOs until the early 2000s. The debate between Liberal Institutionalism and (after 1945 dominant) Realism deeply influenced the study of IOs. The engagement of the United States in the United Nations System, however, stimulated further studies of IOs and produced new theoretical orientations that left room for Realist factors. The modernization of International Relations studies through Regime Theory eventually removed the need to ask historical questions, resulting in short-term studies of IOs, but new approaches such as Constructivism and Historical Institutionalism contributed to studies of long-term change of IOs and critical junctures in history. The main International Relations approach traces the rise of the United Nations System (or, more broadly, IOs) as an instrument of American exceptionalism in the world. This view is being criticized by the paradigmatic turn in the discipline of History in the early 2000s, which has included IOs in its research and relates the creation of IOs to imperial powers such as the United Kingdom and France that wanted to safeguard their empires. These historical studies start in 1919 rather than 1945 and also question International Relations’ Western-centrist universalism by including competing universalisms such as anticolonial nationalism.

Article

Philip E. Steinberg and Darren Purcell

Electronic communications refer to forms of communication where ideas and information are embedded in spatially mobile electronic signals. These include the internet, telephony, television, and radio. Electronic communications are linked to state power in a complex and, at times, contradictory manner. More specifically, a tension exists between divergent pressures toward constructing electronic communication spaces as spaces of state power, as spaces of escape, and as spaces for contesting state power. On the one hand, states often invest in infrastructure and empower regulatory institutions as they seek to intensify their presence within national territory, for example, or project their influence beyond territorial borders. The widespread use of electronic communication technologies to facilitate governmental power is especially evident in the realm of cyberwarfare. E-government platforms have also been created to foster interaction with the state through electronic means. On the other hand, communication systems thrive through the idealization (and, ideally, the regulatory construction) of a space without borders, whereby individuals might bypass, or even actively work to subvert, state authority. Just as the internet has been seen as a means for state power to monitor the everyday lives and subjectivities of the citizenry, it has also been employed as a tool for democratization. Various institutions have emerged to govern specific electronic communication networks, including those that are focused on reproducing the power of individual states, those that operate in the realm of intergovernmental organizations, those that devolve power to actors in local government, and those that empower corporations or civil society.