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Do International Institutions matter? Why?


Actually the question is: Do International Institutions, mainly, reflect the preferences of the most powerful states? Or can they develop a life of their own?  I think they often reflect both. Obviously the most powerful states crucial for setting up these Organizations and for obtaining as credible International Organizations, but. Over a period of time, the Organizations often do develop a particular culture, perspective and a particular role of their own in global governments.

If there is a real inequality of power relations, between the member states, I think institutions will be dominated by the powerful ones. If there isn’t, if the division of power is relatively equal, for example, take the European Union. Then I think, international organizations might indeed develop a life of their own.

And perhaps we should differentiate between Institutions. Of course a Security Council is a body, that’s probably influenced by the power states and these states indeed also have a veto, so they have quite direct control over the body. But even there we see, that the Security Council, is dependent on other states for the implementation of its decision.

So there are certain legitimacy constraints. On the other hand, if we look at the International Criminal Court and Criminal Tribunals, those may take on a life of their own more easily. And of course, even though they are part of the international society and, and are constrained by certain power considerations, they do tend to take more dynamics of their own. If you look at geopolitical change, then probably you should, cannot have a life of their own.

The International Institutions including UN and the Security  Council, are now changing. You see that very clearly when you carry out interventions. When the West wants to carry out an intervention, for example, in Libya or in Syria. Then, it’s very difficult to get a mandate of the UN Security Council. Because countries like Russia and China have more traditional view of sovereignty. They are against the interference. In domestic affairs of other countries. So, they will try to block resolutions from UN Security Council. So, because of geopolitical change, those voices will be louder.

 So the theoretical approaches have different answers. And quite obviously, a lot will depend on which Institution we look at. In general, however, I think it is fair to say that, yes, of course, powerful states will matter, but Institutions in global affairs, generally, can be quite crucial. And maybe, they should be crucial too. Moreover, they may actually themselves, influence, the behavior of states and other actors.


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