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organization composed primarily of sovereign states
An intergovernmental organization (IGO) or international organization is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states (referred to as member states), or of other intergovernmental organizations. IGOs are established by a treaty that acts as a charter creating the group. Treaties are formed when lawful representatives (governments) of several states go through a ratification process, providing the IGO with an international legal personality. Intergovernmental organizations are an important aspect of public international law.
Intergovernmental organizations in a legal sense should be distinguished from simple groupings or coalitions of states, such as the G7 or the Quartet. Such groups or associations have not been founded by a constituent document and exist only as task groups. Intergovernmental organizations must also be distinguished from treaties. Many treaties (such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, or the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade before the establishment of the World Trade Organization) do not establish an organization and instead rely purely on the parties for their administration becoming legally recognized as an ad hoc commission. Other treaties[which?] have established an administrative apparatus which was not deemed to have been granted international legal personality.
Educational organizations -- centered around tertiary-level study. EUCLID University was chartered as a university and umbrella organization dedicated to sustainable development in signatory countries; United Nations University researches pressing global problems that are the concern of the United Nations, its Peoples and Member States.
Health and Population Organizations -- based on common perceived health and population goals. These are formed to address those challenges collectively, for example the intergovernmental partnership for population and development Partners in Population and Development.
The first international organization of a global nature was the International Telegraph Union (the future International Telecommunication Union), which was founded by the signing of the International Telegraph Convention by 20 countries in May 1865. The ITU also served as a model for other international organizations such as the Universal Postal Union (1874), and the emergence of the League of Nations following World War I, designed as an institution to foster collective security in order to sustain peace, and successor to this the United Nations.
Expansion and growth
Held and McGrew counted thousands of IGOs worldwide in 2002 and this number continues to rise. This may be attributed to globalization, which increases and encourages the co-operation among and within states and which has also provided easier means for IGO growth as a result of increased international relations. This is seen economically, politically, militarily, as well as on the domestic level. Economically, IGOs gain material and non-material resources for economic prosperity. IGOs also provide more political stability within the state and among differing states. Military alliances are also formed by establishing common standards in order to ensure security of the members to ward off outside threats. Lastly, the formation has encouraged autocratic states to develop into democracies in order to form an effective and internal government.
Participation and involvement
There are several different reasons a state may choose membership in an intergovernmental organization. But there are also reasons membership may be rejected.
Reasons for participation:
Economic rewards: In the case of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), membership in the free trade agreement benefits the parties' economies. For example, Mexican companies are given better access to U.S. markets due to their membership.
Political influence: Smaller countries, such as Portugal and Belgium, who do not carry much political clout on the international stage, are given a substantial increase in influence through membership in IGOs such as the European Union. Also for countries with more influence such as France and Germany, IGOs are beneficial as the nation increases influence in the smaller countries' internal affairs and expanding other nations dependence on themselves, so to preserve allegiance.
Security: Membership in an IGO such as NATO gives security benefits to member countries. This provides an arena where political differences can be resolved.
Democracy: It has been noted that member countries experience a greater degree of democracy and those democracies survive longer.
Reasons for rejecting membership:
Loss of sovereignty: Membership often comes with a loss of state sovereignty as treaties are signed that require co-operation on the part of all member states.
Insufficient benefits: Often membership does not bring about substantial enough benefit to warrant membership in the organization.
Rather than by national jurisdiction, legal accountability is intended to be ensured by legal mechanisms that are internal to the intergovernmental organization itself and access to administrative tribunals. In the course of many court cases where private parties tried to pursue claims against international organizations, there has been a gradual realization that alternative means of dispute settlement are required as states have fundamental human rights obligations to provide plaintiffs with access to court in view of their right to a fair trial.:77 Otherwise, the organizations' immunities may be put in question in national and international courts.:72 Some organizations hold proceedings before tribunals relating to their organization to be confidential, and in some instances have threatened disciplinary action should an employee disclose any of the relevant information. Such confidentiality has been criticized as a lack of transparency.
^Shannon, Megan. "The Expansion of International Organizations" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Hilton Chicago and the Palmer House Hilton, Chicago, IL, Sep 02, 2004 <Not Available>. 2009-05-26 Archived 2009-11-25 at the Wayback Machine
^Heitz, André (November 2005). "UN Special number 645". Archived from the original on 2013-10-19. The French court said... The right to a day in court prevails over jurisdictional immunity
^ abReinisch, August; Weber, Ulf Andreas (2004). "In the shadow of Waite and Kennedy - the jurisdictional immunity of international organizations, the individual's right of access to the courts and administrative tribunals as alternative means of dispute settlement". International Organizations Law Review. 1 (1): 59-110. doi:10.1163/1572374043242330. Pdf.Archived 2013-10-19 at the Wayback Machine