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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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Jan Klabbers


The aim of this book is to provide an introductory overview of the basic legal structures that together make up the operating system of the institutions through which much global governance is exercised: international (or intergovernmental) organizations. Moreover, the book aims to do so by placing the law in (political) context; it hopes to help the reader in understanding how the law works and why it works the way it does, without going into much detail on the contents of international institutional law.

Global executive power emanates from entities such as the UN, the World Bank, or the World Trade Organization: decisions taken by these bodies can potentially affect the everyday lives of billions of people. Something similar holds true on a regional level with respect to such entities as the European Union or, to a lesser extent, the African Union or the Organization of American States. Hence, in order to understand (global) governance and try and keep it under control, it might prove useful to provide a basic overview of how such entities operate, whether there are limits to what they can legally do, and how (if at all) they can be controlled.

Given its format, this book necessarily paints with broad strokes. This entails that it is not very suitable as a university level textbook on international institutional law.1 Future international legal professionals may be expected to display knowledge on a level of detail deeper than this book provides, but for the informed citizen...

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