Chapter Summary

I. Intergovernmental Organizations

  • The Creation of International Organizations (IOs)
    • Why have states chosen to organize themselves collectively? The response is found in liberalism
      1. Within the framework of institutions, cooperation is possible
  • Functionalism
    • Simple problems, often with technical (not political) solutions are common starting points for IOs
    • David Mitrany argues that states “bind together those interests which are common, where they are common, and to the extent to which they are common.”
    • They promote building on and expanding the habits of cooperation nurtured by groups of technical experts. Eventually, those habits will spill over into cooperation in political and military affairs.
  • Collective Goods
    • Collective goods are available to all members of the group regardless of individual contributions.
    • The use of collective goods involves activities and choices that are interdependent. Decisions by one states have effects for other states; that is, states can suffer unanticipated negative consequences as a result of actions by others.
    • Garrett Hardin, in The Tragedy of the Commons, proposed several possible pollutions to the tragedy of the commons:
      1. Use coercion: force nations and peoples to control the collective goods.
      2. Restructure the preferences of states through rewards and punishments.
      3. Alter the size of the group.
  • The Roles of Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs)
    • IGOs contribute to habits of cooperation; through IGOs, states become socialized to regular interactions. Such regular interactions occur between states in the United Nations.
    • Roles:
      1. Some establish regularized processes of information gathering, analysis, and surveillance.
      2. Some IGOs, such as the World Trade Organization, develop procedures to make rules, settle disputes, and punish those who fail to follow the rules.
      3. Other IGOs conduct operational activities that help to resolve major substantive problems
      4. IGOs also play key roles in bargaining, serving as arenas for negotiating and developing coalitions.
    • IGOs often spearhead the creation and maintenance of international rules and principles. They establish expectations about their behavior of other states. These are known as international regimes.
    • Charters if IGOs incorporate the norms, rules, and decisionmaking processes of regimes. IGOs help to reduce the incentive to cheat and enhance the value of a good reputation.
      1. For states, IGOs enlarge the possibilities for foreign policy making and add to the constraints under which states operate and especially implement foreign policy. States join IGOs to use them as instruments of foreign policy.
      2. IGOs also constrain states. They set agendas and force governments to make decisions; encourage states to develop processes to facilitate IGO participation, and create norms of behavior with which states must align their policies if they wish to benefit from their membership.
      3. IGOs affect individuals by providing opportunities for leadership. As individuals work with or in IGOs, they, like states, may become socialized to cooperate internationally.
  • The United Nations
    • The UN was founded on three fundamental principles:
      1. The UN is based on the notion of the sovereign equality of member states. Each state is legally equivalent of every other state.
      2. Only international problems are within the jurisdiction of the UN. Such problems include human rights, global telecommunications, and environmental regulation.
      3. The UN is designed primarily to maintain international peace and security. States should refrain from the threat or use of force and settle disputes through peaceful means.
    • Security has broadened from the classical protection of national territory to human security—providing humanitarian relief for refugees or the starving.
    • Structure
      1. Security Council: responsible for ensuring peace and security and deciding enforcement measures. Decisions must be unanimous and each of the five permanent members has a veto.
      2. General Assembly: with 192 member states, permits debate on any topic under its purview. Since the end of the Cold War, the GA’s work has been marginalized, and power has shifted back to the Security Council, much to the dismay of the Group of 77, a coalition of developing states, regional groups, and the Group of 20.
      3. Secretariat: gathers information, coordinates and conducts activities. The secretary-general is the chief spokesperson and administrative officer.
      4. Economic and Social Counsel (ECOSOC): coordinates economic and social welfare programs and coordinates action of specialized agencies.
      5. Trusteeship Council: supervision has ended; proposals have been floated to change its function to a forum for NGOs.
      6. International Court of Justice: noncompulsory jurisdiction on cases brought by states and international organizations.
  • Key Political Issues
    • The United Nations played a key role in the decolonization of Africa and Asia. The UN Charter endorsed the principle of self-determination for colonial peoples.
    • The emergence of new states transformed the United Nations because of the formation of the Group of 77, pitting the North against the South. This conflict continues to be a central feature of the United Nations.
  • Peacekeeping
    • In traditional peacekeeping, multilateral institutions such as the United Nations seek to contain conflicts between two states through third-party military forces. These military units are drawn from small, neutral member states, invited by the disputants, and primarily address interstate conflict.
    • Complex peacekeeping activities respond also to civil war and ethnonationalist conflicts in states that have not requested UN assistance.
    • UN peacekeepers have tried to maintain law and order in failing societies by aiding in civil administration, policing, and rehabilitating infrastructure. This is referred to as peacebuilding.
    • Complex peacekeeping has had successes and failures. Namibia’s transition from war to cease-fire and then to independence is seen as a success; Rwanda’s genocide and need for humanitarian protection is seen as a failure.
  • Reform: Success and failures
    • Management: the size of the Secretariat has been reduced by 4,000. In the wake of the Oil for Food scandal, new financial accountability mechanisms have been put in place and internal oversight has been established.
    • Reorganization: The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Counter-Terrorism Committee, and Department of Peacekeeping Operations have been restructured for greater efficiency. In 2006 a Peacebuilding Commission was formed to address post-conflict recovery.
    • Security Council: Most states agree that the council membership should be increased, but many disagree over how it should be done, Europe is overrepresented, and Germany and Japan contribute the most financially. China is the only developing country. Contending proposals have been discussed but no agreement reached.
  • A Complex Network of Intergovernmental Organizations
    • There are nineteen specialized agencies formally affiliated with the United Nations. These organizations have separate charters, budgets, memberships, and secretariats. They also focus on different issues. Examples include the World Bank and Food and Agriculture Organization.
    • There are IGOs not affiliated with the United Nations, including the World Trade Organization and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, as well as regional organizations like the African Union.
  • The European Union—Organizing Regionally
    • Historical Evolution
      1. After World War II, an economically strong Europe (made possible by a reduction of trade barriers and help from the United States) knew it would be better equipped to counter the threat of the Soviet Union if it integrated.
      2. The European Coal and Steel Community represented the first step toward realizing the idea. This became so successful that states agreed to expand cooperation.
      3. Under the European Economic Community, six states agreed to create a common market—removing restrictions on internal trade, reducing barriers to movement of people, services, and capital, and establishing a common agricultural policy.
      4. New areas were gradually brought under the umbrella of the community, including health, safety, and consumer standards.
      5. In 1986, the most important step was taken in deepening the integration process—the signing of the Single European Act (SEA), which established the goal of completing a single market by 1992.
      6. The Maastricht Treaty was signed in 1992, and the European Community became the European Union (EU). Members committed themselves to a political union, including the establishment of common foreign policies, a single currency, and regional central bank.
      7. The 1997 Amsterdam Treaty put more emphasis on the rights of individuals, citizenship, and justice.
      8. The increased power of the EU has not been without its opponents. The United Kingdom opted out of the monetary union, and some Europeans fear a diminution of national sovereignty and are reluctant to surrender their democratic rights to nonelected bureaucrats.
      9. In 2004, the proposed European Constitution was signed by members of the heads of state, but both the French and Dutch electorate rejected the document.
    • Structure
      1. Power initially resided in the Commission, which is designed to represent the interests of the community as a whole. Increasingly, the Council of Ministers, with a weighted voting system, has assumed more power.
      2. The increasing power of the European Parliament is one area of change. Since the 1980s it has gained a greater legislative role.
      3. The growing power of the European Court of Justice is another change. The court has the responsibility for interpreting and enforcing EU law.
    • Policies and Problems
      1. Among the many controversial issues has been the failed effort to develop a common European foreign and security policy. The split between who supported the 2003 Iraq war and those who opposed it is suggestive.
      2. Issues surrounding widening are equally as problematic. Should the EU continue to expand its membership by reaching out to Eastern European states and the former Soviet Union? Can Turkey eventually meet the criteria for membership?
  • Other regions have sought to follow the EU model, while still others have sought a different role for integration
  • The Organization of American States (OAS) has followed a different path from that of the EU.
    • In 1948 the OAS adopted wide ranging goals: political, economic, social, and military.
    • The OAS not has rules for the protection of democratic government in the form of rules prohibiting members from supporting coups in member states.
  • The African Union (AU) replaced the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 2002.
    • The OAU had been a weak organization as its members were newly independent states and thus deeply concerned about questions of sovereignty
    • The AU is an attempt to give African states an increased ability to respond to the issues of economic globalization and democratization affecting the continent.

II. Nongovernmental Organizations

  • NGOs are generally private, voluntary organizations whose members are individuals or associations that come together to achieve a common purpose.
  • They are diverse entities, ranging from grassroots organizations to those recognized transnationally. Some are funded solely through private sources, while others rely on partial government funds. Some are open to mass memberships and some are closed member groups.
  • The Growth of NGO Power and Influence
    • The anti-slavery campaign was one of the earliest NGO-initiated efforts to organize transnationally to ban a morally unacceptable practice.
    • NGOs organizing on behalf of peace and noncoercive methods of dispute settlement also appeared during the 1800s, as did the Red Cross, which advocated for the treatment for wounded soldiers.
    • During the 1970s, networks and coalitions were formed among various groups, and by the 1990s these NGOs were able to effectively mobilize the mass pubic and influence international relations.
    • A number of factors explain the resurgence of NGO activity:
      1. The issues seized on have been viewed as interdependent, or globalizing, issues—issues states cannot solve alone and whose solutions require transnational cooperation.
      2. Global conferences became a key venue for international activity beginning in the 1970s, each designed to address the environment, population, women, and food. NGOs organized separate but parallel conferences on the same issues.
      3. The end of the Cold War and the expansion of democracy have provided political opening for NGOs into parts of the world before untouched by NGO activity.
      4. The communications revolution—first fax, then the Web and e-mail—has enabled NGOs to communicate more efficiently.
    • Functions and Roles of NGOs:
      1. NGOs act as advocates for specific policies and offer alternative channels of political participation, as Amnesty International has done.
      2. They mobilize mass publics, as Greenpeace did in saving the whales.
      3. They distribute critical assistance in disaster relief and to refugees, as Oxfam has done.
      4. They are the principal monitors of human rights norms and environmental regulations and provide warnings of violations, as Human Rights Watch has done.
      5. NGOs are the primary actors at the grassroots level in mobilizing individuals to act. Their impact was felt strongly at the 1992 UN Conference on the Environment and Development (UNCTAD).
        • For the first time, they made statements from the floor during official meetings, drafted information materials, and scrutinized UN documents.
      6. At the national level, NGOs have occasionally taken the place of states, either performing services that are inept or corrupt government is not stepping in for a failed state.
      7. NGOs seldom work alone. The communications revolution has served to link NGOs with each other, formally and informally.
      8. NGOs may also be formed for malevolent purposes, the Mafia, international drug cartels, and even Al Qaeda.
    • The Power of NGOs
      1. NGOs rely on soft power, meaning credible information, expertise, and moral authority that attracts the attention and admiration of governments and the public.
      2. NGOs have distinct advantages over individuals, states, and intergovernmental organizations. They are usually politically independent, participate at all levels, and can make policy with less risk to national sensitivities.
      3. NGOs can increase their power through networking with other NGOs.
        • The International Campaign to Ban Landmines demonstrates the power of the network.
    • The Limits of NGOs
      1. Most NGOs have very limited economic resources since they do not collect taxes. The competition for funding is fierce.
      2. There is a continuous need to raise money, and some NGOs increasingly rely on governments. If NGOs choose to accept state assistance, then their neutrality and legitimacy is potentially compromised.
      3. Success is hard to measure; there is no single agenda, and NGOs are often working at cross-purposes.
      4. Some people question whether certain activities undertaken by NGOs, which have traditionally been viewed as supportive of the common good, may result in prolonging conflicts.

III. International Law

  • International Law and Functions
    • International law consists of a body of both rules and norms regulating interactions among states, between states and IGOs, and among IGOs, states, and individuals.
    • At the state level, law is hierarchical. Established structures exist for both making law and enforcing law, and law binds individuals and groups within the state. There is widespread compliance with the law because it is in the interest of everyone that order be maintained.
    • In the international system, authoritative structures are absent. Nonetheless, liberals acknowledge that international law exists and has an effect in daily life, such as airspace, trade, and shipping regulations.
  • The Sources of International Law
    • Custom. But customary law is limited because it develops slowly. Not all states participate in customary law, and its uncodified nature leads to ambiguity in interpretation.
    • Treaties. Treaties are the dominant source of law today, and are legally binding: only major changes in circumstances give states the right not to follow treaties they have ratified.
    • Authoritative bodies, such as the UN International Law Commission.
    • Courts. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has been responsible for some significant decisions, but it is a weak institution for several reasons:
      1. The court actually hears very few cases. Since 1946, only 112 cases have been brought before it.
      2. When cases are heard, they rarely deal with the major controversies of the day because such controversies are outside of the court’s reach.
      3. Only states may initiate proceedings; individuals and nongovernmental actors like multinational corporations cannot.
    • National and even local courts. They may hear cases occurring on their territory in which international law is invoked or cases involving their own citizens.
      1. Under universal jurisdiction, states may claim jurisdiction if the conduct of a defendant is sufficiently heinous to violate the laws of all states. States claimed jurisdiction as a result of genocide in World War II, and for war crimes in Bosnia, Rwanda, and Kosovo.
  • Enforcement of International Law
    • A key trend in the new millennium has been the expansion of the international judiciary, motivated by the idea of individual responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
      1. Following the atrocities of Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and East Timor, the UN established two ad hoc criminal tribunals. Because of the need to establish procedures and the difficulty of finding those accused, the trials have been subject to criticism
    • In light of the difficulties with the ad hoc tribunals, in 1998, states concluded the statute for the International Criminal Court (ICC), an innovative court having both compulsory jurisdiction and jurisdiction over individuals.
      1. ICC work began in 2003, and pending cases all concern crimes committed in African countries.
      2. The ICC is controversial. Supporters see the court as essential for establishing international law and enforcing individual accountability. Others, including the U.S., objects to it on the grounds that the ICC infringes on U.S. sovereignty and may implicate U.S. military or political officials.
    • Why do states obey international law most of the time?
      1. The liberal response is that they obey because it is right to do so. Individual states benefit from living in an ordered world where there are general expectations about other states’ behavior.
      2. Should states choose not to obey, other members of the international system do have recourse: they can issue diplomatic protests, initiate reprisals, threaten to enforce economic boycotts, or use military force.
      3. Self-help mechanisms of enforcement from one state alone are apt to be ineffective. To be most effective, states must use collective action against the violator.

IV. Realist Views of International Organization and Law

  • They are skeptical about international law
    • International law creates some order, and states comply because it is in the state’s self-interest to comply. It is in the self-interest of states to have their airspace and territory respected, and to enjoy secure procedures for international trade.
  • They are also skeptical about international organizations, both IGOs and NGOs.
    • Realists do not put much faith in the United Nations and point to failures of the Security Council to collectively punish aggressors.
    • Most NGOs exist at the beck and call of states; it is states that grant them legal authority, and it is states that can take away that authority.

V. The Radical View of International Organization and Law

  • Radicals see contemporary international law as the product of a specific time and historical process, emerging out of eighteenth-century economic liberalism and nineteenth-century political liberalism.
    • Law primarily comes out of Western capitalist states and is designed to serve the interests of that constituency, and is biased against socialist states, the weak, and the unrepresented.
    • IGOs, especially the UN and UN agencies, were designed to support the interests of the powerful. Those institutions have succeeded in sustaining the powerful elite against the powerless mass of weaker states.
    • The lack of representativeness and the lack of accountability of NGOs are key issues. Most radicals see the world of NGOs based in the North as dominated by members of the same elite. NGOs are captive to the dominant interests of that system.
    • Contemporary law and international organizations are not the agents of the political and economic changes that radicals desire,

VI. The Constructivist View of International Organization

  • They place critical importance on institutions and norms. Both IGOs and NGOs can be norm entrepreneurs that socialize and teach states new norms. These new norms may influence state behavior.
  • Law plays a key role in constructivist thinking because it reflects changing norms. Norms are internalized by states themselves, they change state preferences, and shape behavior.

VII. In Sum: Do IGOs, NGOs, and International Law Make a Difference?

  • Realists remain skeptical; all are reflections of state power and have no independent identity or role.
  • Radicals view them skeptically as well. They see them as mere reflections of political and economic hegemony.
  • Liberals believe that international law and organizations do not replace states as the primary actors, but they do provide alternative venues for states themselves to engage in collective action and for individuals to join with other like-minded individuals in pursuit of their goals.