Monday, May 3, 2010


Intergovernmental organization

An intergovernmental organization, sometimes rendered as an international governmental

organization and both abbreviated as IGO, is an organization comprised primarily of

sovereign states (referred to as member states), or of other intergovernmental organization.

Intergovernmental organizations are often called international organizations, although that

term may also include international nongovernmental organization such as international nonprofit

organizations (NGOs) or multinational corporations.

Intergovernmental organizations are an important aspect of public international law. IGOs are

established by 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 in a legal sense should be distinguished from simple

groupings or coalitions of states, such as the G8 or the Quartet. Such groups or associations

have not been founded by a constituent document and exist only as task groups.

Intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) differ in function, membership and membership

criteria. They have various goals and scopes, often outlined in the treaty or charter. Some

IGOs developed to fulfill a need for a neutral forum for debate or negotiation to resolve

disputes. Others developed to carry out mutual interests in a unified form.

Common stated aims are to preserve peace through conflict resolution and better

international relations, promote international cooperation on matters such as

environmental protection, to promote human rights, to promote social development

(education, health care), to render humanitarian aid, and to economic development.

Some are more general in scope (the United Nations) while others may have subject-specific

missions (such as Interpol or the International Organization for Standardization and other

standards organizations).

Types of IGOs

Worldwide or global organizations - generally open to nations worldwide as long as

certain criteria are met. This category includes the United Nations (UN) and its

specialized agencies, the Universal Postal Union, Interpol, the World Trade

Organization (WTO), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Regional organizations - open to members from a particular region or continent of

the world. This category includes the Council of Europe (CoE), European Union

(EU), African Union (AU), Organization of American States (OAS), Association of


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Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and Union of South American Nations.

Cultural/linguistic/ethnic/religious/historical organizations - open to members

based on some cultural, linguistic, ethnic, religious, or historical link. Examples

include the Commonwealth of Nations, La Francophonie, Community of Portuguese

Language Countries, Latin Union, or Organisation of the Islamic Conference

Economic organizations – These organizations are dedicated to free trade, the

reduction of trade barriers while others are focused on international development.

International cartels, such as the Organization of Petroleum-Exporting Countries

(OPEC), also exist. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

was founded as an economics-focused organization.

World Wide Organizations

United Nations

The United Nations (UN) is an international

organization whose stated aims are facilitating

cooperation in international law, international

security, economic development, social progress,

human rights, and the achieving of world peace.

The UN was founded in 1945 after World War II to

replace the League of Nations, to stop wars between

countries, and to provide a platform for dialogue. It

contains multiple subsidiary organizations to carry

out its missions.

There are currently 192 member states, including

nearly every sovereign state in the world. From its offices around the world, the UN and its

specialized agencies decide on substantive and administrative issues in regular meetings held

throughout the year. The organization is divided into administrative bodies, primarily:

General Assembly: The General Assembly is the main deliberative assembly of the

United Nations. Composed of all United Nations member states, the assembly meets

in regular yearly sessions under a president elected from among the member states.

Over a two-week period at the start of each session, all members have the opportunity

to address the assembly.

Security Council: The Security Council is charged with maintaining peace and

security among countries. While other organs of the United Nations can only make

'recommendations' to member governments, the Security Council has the power to

make binding decisions that member governments have agreed to carry out, under the

terms of Charter Article 25. The decisions of the Council are known as United

Nations Security Council resolutions.


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Economic and Social Council: The United Nations Secretariat is headed by the

Secretary-General, assisted by a staff of international civil servants worldwide. It

provides studies, information, and facilities needed by United Nations bodies for their

meetings. It also carries out tasks as directed by the UN Security Council, the UN

General Assembly, the UN Economic and Social Council, and other UN bodies.

Secretariat: The Secretariat is headed by the Secretary-General, who acts as the de

facto spokesman and leader of the UN.

International Court of Justice: The International Court of Justice (ICJ), located in

The Hague, Netherlands, is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations.

Established in 1945 by the United Nations Charter, the Court began work in 1946 as

the successor to the Permanent Court of International Justice.

Universal Postal Union

The Universal Postal Union (UPU) is

an international organization that

coordinates postal policies among

member nations, and hence the

worldwide postal system. Each

member country agrees to the same

set of terms for conducting

international postal duties. Universal

Postal Union's headquarters are

located in Berne, Switzerland.

Prior to the establishment of the

UPU, a country had to conclude a

separate postal treaty with each other country that it wished to carry international mail to or

from. The United States called for an international postal congress, which was held in 1863.

This led Heinrich von Stephan, Royal Prussian and later German Minister for Posts, to found

the Universal Postal Union, the third oldest international organization.

One of the most important results of the UPU treaty was that it ceased to be necessary, as it

often had been previously, to affix the stamps of any country through which one's letter or

package would pass in transit; the UPU provides that stamps of member nations are accepted

for the whole international route.


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International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol)

Interpol, whose full name is the

International Criminal Police

Organization – INTERPOL, is an

organization facilitating international

police cooperation. It was established

as the International Criminal Police

Commission in 1923 and adopted its

common name in 1956.

Its membership of 186 countries

provides finance of around $59 million

through annual contributions. The

organization's headquarters are in

Lyon, France. It is the second largest

intergovernmental organization after

the United Nations.

Its current Secretary-General is Ronald

Noble, formerly of the United States

Treasury. Noble is the first non-

European to hold the position of


In order to maintain as politically neutral a role as possible, Interpol's constitution forbids its

involvement in crimes that do not overlap several member countries, or in any political,

military, religious, or racial crimes. Its work focuses primarily on public safety, terrorism,

organized crime, war crimes, illicit drug production, drug trafficking, weapons smuggling,

human trafficking, money laundering, child pornography, white-collar crime, computer

crime, intellectual property crime and corruption.

Each member country maintains a National Central Bureau (NCB) staffed by national law

enforcement officers. The NCB is the designated contact point for the Interpol General

Secretariat, regional bureau and other member countries requiring assistance with overseas

investigations and the location and apprehension of fugitives.

Interpol maintains a large database charting unsolved crimes and both convicted and

alleged criminals. At any time, a member nation has access to specific sections of the

database and its police forces are encouraged to check information held by Interpol whenever

a major crime is committed. The rationale behind this is that drug traffickers and similar

criminals have international ties, and so it is likely that crimes will extend beyond political



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Interpol also maintains its help to remove video piracy and unauthorized copying of protected

movies and video tapes. Starting September 8 of 1977, a resolution was adopted which states

that any unauthorized reproduction or exhibition is prohibited without the prior written

consent of the producer or the copyright owner and is subject to civil and criminal penalties

under the laws of the country the offender comes from.

World Trade Organization

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an international organization designed by its

founders to supervise and liberalize international trade. The organization officially

commenced on January 1, replacing the General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade

(GATT), which commenced in 1947. The World Trade Organization deals with regulation

of trade between participating countries; it provides a framework for negotiating and

formalizing trade agreements, and a dispute resolution process aimed at enforcing

participants' adherence to WTO agreements which are signed by representatives of member

governments and ratified by their parliaments. Most of the issues that the WTO focuses on

derive from previous trade negotiations, especially from the Uruguay Round. The

organization is currently endeavoring to persist with a trade negotiation called the Doha

Development Agenda (or Doha Round), which was launched in 2001 to enhance equitable

participation of poorer countries which represent a majority of the world's population.

However, the negotiation has been dogged by "disagreement between exporters of

agricultural bulk commodities and countries with large numbers of subsistence farmers on the

precise terms of a 'special safeguard measure' to protect farmers from surges in imports. At

this time, the future of the Doha Round is uncertain."

The WTO has 153 members, representing more than 95% of total world trade and 30

observers, most seeking membership. The WTO is governed by a ministerial conference,

meeting every two years; a general council, which implements the conference's policy

decisions and is responsible for day-to-day administration; and a director-general, who is

appointed by the ministerial conference. The WTO's headquarters is at the Centre

William Rappard, Geneva, Switzerland.

Among the various functions of the WTO, these are regarded by analysts as the most


It oversees the implementation, administration and operation of the covered


It provides a forum for negotiations and for settling disputes.

Additionally, it is the WTO's duty to review and propagate the national trade policies, and to

ensure the coherence and transparency of trade policies through surveillance in global

economic policy-making. Another priority of the WTO is the assistance of developing, leastdeveloped

and low-income countries in transition to adjust to WTO rules and disciplines

through technical cooperation and training. The WTO is also a center of economic research


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and analysis: regular assessments of the global trade picture in its annual publications and

research reports on specific topics are produced by the organization. Finally, the WTO

cooperates closely with the two other components of the Bretton Woods system, the IMF and

the World Bank.

Agreements of WTO

The WTO oversees about 60 different agreements which have the status of international legal

texts. Member countries must sign and ratify all WTO agreements on accession. A discussion

of some of the most important agreements follows.

Agreement on Agriculture (AoA)

The Agreement on Agriculture came into effect with the establishment of the WTO at the

beginning of 1995. The AoA has three central concepts, or "pillars": domestic support,

market access and export subsidies.

General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)

The General Agreement on Trade in Services was created to extend the multilateral trading

system to service sector, in the same way the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade

(GATT) provides such a system for merchandise trade. The Agreement entered into force in

January 1995.

Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (TRIPs)

The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights sets down

minimum standards for many forms of intellectual property (IP) regulation. It was negotiated

at the end of the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in


Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary Agreement (SPS)

The Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures - also known as

the SPS Agreement was negotiated during the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on

Tariffs and Trade, and entered into force with the establishment of the WTO at the beginning

of 1995. Under the SPS agreement, the WTO sets constraints on members' policies relating to

food safety as well as animal and plant health (imported pests and diseases).

Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT)

The Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade is an international treaty of the World Trade

Organization. It was negotiated during the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on


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Tariffs and Trade, and entered into force with the establishment of the WTO at the end of

1994. The object ensures that technical negotiations and standards, as well as testing and

certification procedures, do not create unnecessary obstacles to trade".

International Monetary Fund

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an

international organization that oversees the global

financial system by following the macroeconomic

policies of its member countries; in particular those

with an impact on exchange rates and the balance of

payments. It is an organization formed to stabilize

international exchange rates and facilitate

development. It also offers highly leveraged loans

mainly to poorer countries. Its headquarters are

located in Washington, D.C., United States.

The International Monetary Fund was created in July

1944, originally with 45 members, with a goal to

stabilize exchange rates and assist the reconstruction

of the world's international payment system. Countries contributed to a pool which could be

borrowed from, on a temporary basis, by countries with payment imbalances.

The IMF describes itself as "an organization of 186 countries (Kosovo being the 186th, as of

June 29, 2009), working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability,

facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth,

and reduce poverty". With the exception of Taiwan (expelled in 1980), North Korea, Cuba

(left in 1964), Andorra, Monaco, Liechtenstein, Tuvalu and Nauru, all UN member states

participate directly in the IMF. Most are represented by other member states on a 24-member

Executive Board but all member countries belong to the IMF's Board of Governors.

Any country may apply for membership to the IMF. The application will be considered first

by the IMF's Executive Board. After its consideration, the Executive Board will submit a

report to the Board of Governors of the IMF with recommendations in the form of a

"Membership Resolution." These recommendations cover the amount of quota in the IMF,

the form of payment of the subscription, and other customary terms and conditions of

membership. After the Board of Governors has adopted the "Membership Resolution," the

applicant state needs to take the legal steps required under its own law to enable it to sign the

IMF's Articles of Agreement and to fulfill the obligations of IMF membership. Similarly, any

member country can withdraw from the Fund, although that is rare.

The primary mission of the IMF is to provide financial assistance to countries that experience

serious financial and economic difficulties using funds deposited with the IMF from the


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institution's 186 member countries. Member states with balance of payments problems, which

often arise from these difficulties, may request loans to help fill gaps between what countries

earn and/or are able to borrow from other official lenders and what countries must spend to

operate, including covering the cost of importing basic goods and services. In return,

countries are usually required to launch certain reforms, which have often been dubbed the

"Washington Consensus". These reforms are thought to be beneficial to countries with fixed

exchange rate policies that may engage in fiscal, monetary, and political practices which may

lead to the crisis itself. For example, nations with severe budget deficits, rampant inflation,

strict price controls, or significantly over-valued or under-valued currencies run the risk of

facing balance of payment crises. Thus, the structural adjustment programs are at least

ostensibly intended to ensure that the IMF is actually helping to prevent financial crises rather

than merely funding.

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