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Advanced Introduction to the Law of International Organizations

Jan Klabbers

The Advanced Introduction to the Law of International Organizations gives a nuanced overview of the legal mechanisms behind the operation of international organizations such as the UN, the EU and the World Bank. It offers perceptive insights by placing the law of international organizations in a political context and provides systematic discussion of a variety of relevant legal notions, ranging from the powers of international organizations to mechanisms of accountability. Written by a leading authority on the topic, it provides a concise and accessible examination of this developing facet of international law.
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1 The concept of international organization

Jan Klabbers


International organizations help to shape the world we live in. The world would be a different place (and probably far worse) without the peacekeepers of the United Nations (UN), without the vaccination passports and health regulations of the World Health Organization (WHO), without the emergency food being provided by the World Food Programme (WFP), or the help offered to individuals in need by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The world would also be a different place without the free trade sponsored and monitored by the World Trade Organization (WTO), the conditional loans offered by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), or the financial regulations of the Basel Committee. And the world could well be a different place if only there were more systematic and comprehensive global financial regulation, or if environmental protection went deeper than the efforts of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

International organizations coordinate efforts of states on issues of international relevance. It goes without saying that deadly diseases do not stop at national borders; hence WHO. It goes without saying that people persecuted for their religious or political beliefs should be able to find a free haven elsewhere; hence UNHCR. And it goes without saying that delivery of mail at fixed rates across boundaries is useful and agreeable; hence the Universal Postal Union (UPU). These examples suggest that international organizations (or at least some of them) are devoted to the common good in a non-offensive way. However, other examples are less politically innocent....

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