All international organizations exist in the conceptual and legal space between state sovereignty and legal obligation. They are created by the commitments made by sovereign states, and their purpose is to bind those states to their commitments. This chapter examines three forces in world politics: the commitments states make to international organizations, the choices states make regarding compliance and non-compliance with those commitments, and the powers of enforcement held by each international organization.
Some international organizations are able to coerce their member states into complying with their commitments; for instance, the UN Security Council has a military component and the IMF has coercive leverage over its borrowers. But far more commonly they are left to find ways to cajole or induce compliance from their members. In each organization, the particular relationship between obligation, compliance, and enforcement is different which in turn creates interesting patterns of politics between states and organizations.
The main problems of international economics and international politics are at some level also problems of international organization. As interdependence between states increases, the importance of international organizations increases with it. International organizations in one form or another are found at the heart of all of the political and economic challenges of the twenty-first century. From international creditmarkets to endangered species towar crimes and torture, today's leading controversies all involve some measure of international cooperation and commitment managed through formalized international organizations (IOs). Some IOsworkwell and some work hardly at all; some need reform, some need abolishing, and some need strengthening. To understand how the world works requires understanding the politics, powers, and limits of international organizations.
The book introduces eleven of the most important international organizations, including those most central to international economics, international security, and international law. It considers their legal powers, their practical effects, and their political controversies. The organizations are:• the United Nations (UN),• the World Trade Organization (WTO),• the International Monetary Fund (IMF),• the World Bank (WB),• the European Union (EU),• the International Court of Justice (ICJ),• the International Criminal Court (ICC),• the International Labor Organization (ILO),• the Organization of American States (OAS),• the African Union (AU), and• the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).