International Organization

International Organization

Introduction to International Organization

International Organization, a membership group that operates across national borders for specific purposes. Scholars of international relations consider international organizations to have growing importance in world politics. Examples of international organizations include the United Nations (UN), the World Bank (see International Bank for Reconstruction and Development), the International Committee of the Red Cross, and Greenpeace.

Most international organizations operate as part of one or more international regimes. An international regime is a set of rules, standards, and procedures that govern national behavior in a particular area. Examples of international regimes include arms control, foreign trade, and Antarctic exploration. International organizations are often central to the functioning of an international regime, giving structure and procedures to the “rules of the game” by which nations must play. For example, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the European Union (EU) are key organizations that define the international trade regime.” (1)

International Legal Organizations

See International Legal Organizations for more information.

ICC – International Criminal Court

Located in The Hague, Netherlands, the ICC is a court that prosecutes people accused of crimes against humanity, genocide, and other serious crimes of concern to the international community. It is distinct in that it is permanent, unlike similar tribunals which usually only have jurisdiction over specific conflicts. The ICC is governed by the Rome Statute, which entered into force in 2002. Its website is Note that in international law, ICC can also stand for International Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business organization. Among other activities, the ICC often is involved in dispute resolution through its International Court of Arbitration. Its website is See the entry about ICC – International Criminal Court for further information.

There are currently five other international criminal tribunals:

  • ECCC – Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia
  • ICTY – International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
  • ICTR – International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
  • SC-SL – Special Court for Sierra Leone
  • Special Tribunal for Lebanon

Each of these tribunals is charged with prosecuting crimes in a particular region and for a particular period of time. The last three are noteworthy in that they are hybrid courts, with a combination of international and domestic structures within them.

ICSID – International Centre for Settlement and Investment Disputes

Based in Washington, D.C., ICSID is an institution of the World Bank Group that provides arbitration of investment disputes for member countries and for individual investors. As of 2005, 155 countries have signed the ICSID convention, and the proliferation of Bilateral Investment Treaties between member nations has greatly increased the caseload for ICSID. Its website is For more information on ICSID – International Centre for Settlement and Investment Disputes in this legal Ecyclopedia, see here.

World Bank

International financial institution that provides financing to poor countries of the world with an aim to promote growth and reduce poverty. It consists of two institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Development Association. Both work in conjunction to create an economic environment in developing nations that is friendly to investment, jobs, and growth and to ensure that the people in these nations reap the benefits of that economic environment. Its website is For further information on this international financial institution, click here.

World Trade Organization (WTO)

The WTO is an international organization based in Geneva that supervises international trade and establishes a framework for the trade policies of member nations. Its website is For information on the World Trade Organization (WTO) in this legal encyclopedia, click here.

ICJ – International Court of Justice

Located in The Hague, Netherlands, the ICJ is the main judicial organ of the United Nations. The ICJ was founded in 1945 and the Statute of the Court (also known as “the ICJ Statute”) continues to govern its activities. The ICJ mainly settles legal disputes submitted to it by States, and issues advisory opinions. Its website is The entry about the ICJ – International Court of Justice is available here.

World Health Organization (WHO)

A United Nations body that governs and coordinates international public health. Its main roles are to combat disease and promote the general health of the world. Its website is There are an entry about the World Health Organization (WHO) following this link.

International Organization

Embracing mainstream international law, this section on international organization explores the context, history and effect of the area of the law covered here.


See Also

  • International Organization
  • Foreign Relations
  • Organization


Further Reading

  • The entry “international organization” in the Parry and Grant Encyclopaedic Dictionary of International Law (currently, the Encyclopaedic Dictionary of International Law, 2009), Oxford University Press


Notes and References

Guide to International Organization