1. The definition of an international organization. Membership in the international organizations.
  2. Types of international organizations.
  3. Characteristics of an international organization.
  4. The United Nations as the international intergovernmental organization.

  1. The definition of an international organization. Membership in the international organizations.

An international organization can be defined, following the International Law Commission, as an “organization established by a treaty or other instrument governed by international law and possessing its own international legal personality.”[1] 

As to the other definition an international organization is “a body that promotes voluntary cooperation and coordination between or among its members.”[2] 

International organizations generally have states as members. For instance, art. 4.1 of the Charter of the United Nations Organization emphasizes  that membership in the United Nations is open to all peace-loving states “which accept the obligations contained in the UN Charter and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able and willing to carry out these obligations.” The admission of any such state to membership in the United Nations will be effected by a decision of the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.[3] 

Almost the same provision is included into the Statute of the Council of Europe – regional intergovernmental organization. As to art. 3 of the Statute every member of the Council of Europe must accept the principles of the rule of law and of the enjoyment by all persons within its jurisdiction of human rights and fundamental freedoms.[4] – which provides in art. 4 that “[a]ny European State which is deemed to be able and willing to fulfil the provisions of Article 3 may be invited to become a member of the Council of Europe by the Committee of Ministers. Any State so invited shall become a member on the deposit on its behalf with the Secretary General of an instrument of accession to the present Statute.”

International organizations both make international law and are governed by it. The decision–making process of international organizations is often “less a question of law than one of political judgement”.[5]

  1. Types of international organizations

There are many types of international organizations, but one way of categorizing them is to distinguish between intergovernmental organizations and supranational organizations.

An intergovernmental organization (IGO) is composed of nation-states and it promotes voluntary co-operation and coordination among its members.[6] Decisions and agreements reached in this type of organization however are not enforceable, and the members remain independent. The crucial aspect of an IGO is that the members do not surrender any power (or sovereignty) to it. The United Nations is an intergovernmental organization.

A supranational organization is different because member states do surrender power in specific areas to the higher organization. Decisions taken by a supranational organization must be obeyed by the member states. Often there are courts to determine when violations have occurred, although frequently enforcement mechanisms are not as effective as they are within nation states. The example of the supranational organization is the European Union.

The other two main types of international organizations may be the following[7]:

The first and oldest intergovernmental organization is the Central Commission for Navigation on the Rhine, created in 1815 by the Congress of Vienna.

  1. Characteristics of an international organization.

It is useful to take seven aspects of organizational life as indicators of the eligibility of an organization. These are noted below:

  1. Aims. The aims must be genuinely international in character, with the intention to cover operations in at least three countries. For example, the aims of the UNsO is to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international co-operation in solving international problems, be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations[9] which are international in nature.
  2. Members There must be individual or collective participation, with full voting rights, from at least three countries. Membership must be open. Closed groups are therefore excluded. For instance, membership in the United Nations is open to all peace-loving states.[10]
  3. Structure.  The organization must have a particular structure responsible for its functioning. As to the Charter of the UNs the principal organs of the United Nations are a General Assembly, a Security Council, an Economic and Social Council, a Trusteeship Council, an International Court of Justice and a Secretariat (art. 7 of the Charter). Moreover, such subsidiary organs as may be found necessary may be established in accordance with the UN Charter (art. 7.2 of the Charter).
  4. Finance. Substantial contributions to the budget must come from at least three countries.
  5. Relations with other organizations. Entities formally connected with another organization are not necessarily excluded, but there must be evidence that they lead an independent life and elect their own officers.
  6. Activities. Evidence of current activity must be available; organizations which appear to have been inactive for over four years are eventually treated as "dissolved" or "dormant".
  7. Other criteria. No stipulations are made as to size or "importance", whether in terms of number of members, degree of activity or financial strength. No organizations are excluded on political or ideological grounds, nor are fields of interest or activity taken into consideration. The geographical location of the headquarters and the terminology used in the organization's name (whether "committee", "council", etc.) have likewise been held to be irrelevant in the determination of eligibility.

  1. The United Nations as the international intergovernmental organization.

The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization to promote international co-operation. Its predecessor, the League of Nations created in 1919, was ineffective and the UN was established on 24 October 1945 after World War II in order to prevent another such conflict.

At its founding, the UN had 51 member states; there are now 193.

The headquarters of the UN is in ManhattanNew York City. Further main offices are situated in GenevaNairobi, and Vienna.

The organization is financed by assessed and voluntary contributions from its member states.

Its objectives include maintaining international peace and security, promoting human rights, fostering social and economic development, protecting the environment, and providing humanitarian aid in cases of famine, natural disaster, and armed conflict.

The UN Charter was drafted at a conference between April–June 1945 in San Francisco, and was signed on 26 June 1945 at the conclusion of the conference.[11] It took effect 24 October 1945, and the UN began operation.

The earliest concrete plan for a new world organization began under the aegis of the US State Department in 1939.[9] The text of the "Declaration by United Nations" was drafted by President Franklin Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Roosevelt aide Harry Hopkins, while meeting at the White House, 29 December 1941. It incorporated Soviet suggestions, but left no role for France. "Four Policemen" was coined to refer to four major Allied countries - United StatesUnited KingdomSoviet Union, and China, which emerged in the Declaration by United Nations.[12] Roosevelt first coined the term United Nations to describe the Allied countries. The UN was formulated and negotiated among the delegations from the Allied Big Four (the Soviet Union, the UK, the US, and China) at the Dumbarton Oaks Conference in 1944. [13]The UN officially came into existence 24 October 1945, upon ratification of the Charter by the five permanent members of the Security Council—France, the Republic of China, the Soviet Union, the UK and the US—and by a majority of the other 46 signatories.[14]

The UN's mission to preserve world peace was complicated in its early decades by the Cold War between the US and Soviet Union and their respective allies. The organization participated in major actions in Korea and the Congo, as well as approving the creation of the state of Israel in 1947. The organization's membership grew significantly following widespread decolonization in the 1960s, and by the 1970s its budget for economic and social development programmes far outstripped its spending on peacekeeping. After the end of the Cold War, the UN took on major military and peacekeeping missions across the world with varying degrees of success.

The UN has six principal organs: the General Assembly (the main deliberative assembly); the Security Council (for deciding certain resolutions for peace and security); the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC; for promoting international economic and social co-operation and development); the Secretariat (for providing studies, information, and facilities needed by the UN); the International Court of Justice (the primary judicial organ); and the UN Trusteeship Council (inactive since 1994). UN System agencies include the World Bank Group, the World Health Organization, the World Food ProgrammeUNESCO, and UNICEF.

The UN's most prominent officer is the Secretary-General, an office held by Portuguese António Guterres since 2017. Non-governmental organizations may be granted consultative status with ECOSOC and other agencies to participate in the UN's work.

The organization won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001, and a number of its officers and agencies have also been awarded the prize. Some commentators believe the organization to be an important force for peace and human development, while others have called the organization ineffective, corrupt, or biased.

[1] Peace palace Library. International organizations. -

[2] John McCormick. The European Union: Politics and Policies. Westview Press: Boulder Colorado, 1999. p.10.

[3] Art. 4 of the Charter of the United Nationa Organization. -

[4] Art. 3 of the Statute of the Council of Europe. -

[5] Peace palace Library. International organizations. -

[6] John McCormick. The European Union: Politics and Policies. Westview Press: Boulder Colorado, 1999. p. 10.

[7] The Penguin Dictionary of International Relations divides modern international organizations into two "basic types, the 'public' variety known as intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) and the 'private' variety, the international non-governmental organization (INGOs)." (Evans, Graham, and Richard Newnham. Penguin Dictionary of International Relations. Penguin, 1998, p. 270.)

[8] "Intergovernmental organizations having received a standing invitation to participate as observers in the sessions and the work of the General Assembly and maintaining permanent offices at Headquarters." United Nations Department of Public Information, United Nations Secretariat.

[9] Art. 1 of the Charter of the United Nationa Organization. -

[10] Art. 4 of the Charter of the United Nationa Organization. -

[11] "Charter of the United Nations|United Nations". Retrieved 2016-12-29;"History of the United Nations|United Nations". Retrieved 2016-12-29

[12]  Urquhart, Brian. Looking for the Sheriff. New York Review of Books, July 16, 1998.

[13] Bohlen, C.E. (1973). Witness to History, 1929–1969. New York. p. 159; Video: Allies Study Post-War Security Etc. (1944)Universal Newsreel. 1944. Retrieved November 28, 2014.

[14] "Milestones in United Nations History". Department of Public Information, United Nations. Archived from the original on 11 January 2012. Retrieved 22 November 2013 – via Wayback Machine.