An international organization (intergovernmental organization) is an organization established by a treaty or other instrument governed by international law and possessing its own legal personality, such as the United Nations, the World Health Organization and NATO. International organizations are composed of primarily member states, but may also include other entities, such as other international organizations. Additionally, entities (including states) may hold observer status. Notable examples include the United Nations (UN), Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Bank for International Settlements (BIS), Council of Europe (COE), International Labour Organization (ILO) and International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL).Intergovernmental organizations having received a standing invitation to participate as observers in the sessions and the work of the General Assembly and maintaining permanent offices at Headquarters
" United Nations Department of Public Information, United Nations Secretariat.


The first and oldest international organization—being established employing a treaty, and creating a permanent secretariat—is the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine (founded in 1815). The first general international organization—addressing a variety of issues—was the League of Nations. The United Nations followed this model after World War II.


The role of international organizations is helping to set the international agenda, mediating political bargaining, providing a place for political initiatives and acting as catalysts for the coalition- formation. They facilitate cooperation and coordination among member nations. In addition, they promote global initiatives aimed at reducing inequality like the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 10.

Regional organizations

International organizations typically have member states from the whole world, however in some cases organizations have geographic limitations, such as the European Union, African Union and NATO. The United Nations also has regional organizations, such as UNECE and UNECA. The oldest regional organization is the Central Commission for Navigation on the Rhine, created in 1815 by the Congress of Vienna.

United Nations Agencies

The United Nations organizes its work into agencies, such as United Nations Relief Works Agency, which are generally considered as international organizations in their own right. Additionally, the United Nations has Specialized Agencies which are organizations within the United Nations System, that have their member states (often nearly identical to the UN Member States) and are governed independently by them, examples include International Organizations that predate the UN, such the International Telecommunication Union, and the Universal Postal Union, as well as organizations that were created after the UN such as the World Health Organization (which was made up of regional organizations such as PAHO that predated the UN).

International NGOs

International organizations are sometimes referred to as intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), to clarify the distinction from international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), which are non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that operate internationally. These include international nonprofit organizations such as the World Organization of the Scout Movement, International Committee of the Red Cross and Médecins Sans Frontières, as well as lobby groups that represent the interests of multinational corporations, such as the World Economic Forum and Horasis.

See also

* International relations * List of intergovernmental organizations * List of regional organizations by population * List of trade blocs * Regional Economic Communities * Regional integration * Regional organization * Supranational union

Further reading

* Barnett, Michael and Finnemore, M. 2004. ''Rules for the World: International Organizations in Global Politics''. Cornell University Press. * Hurd, Ian. 2018. ''International Organizations: Politics, Law, Practice''. Cambridge University Press. * Lall, Ranjit. 2017. "Beyond Institutional Design: Explaining the Performance of International Organizations." ''International Organization'' 53: 699-732.

Notes and references

External links

Headquarters of International Organisation
List of International Organisation and their Headquarters

on the 'Articles on the Responsibility of International Organizations'' in th

of the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law
World News related documents
on the World News related documents {{Use dmy dates|date=May 2020 Category:Cultural globalization