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The Oxford Handbook of International Organizations edited by Katz Cogan, Jacob; Hurd, Ian; Johnstone, Ian

Part III Forms of Organization, Ch.6 Formal Intergovernmental Organizations

Jan Klabbers

From: The Oxford Handbook of International Organizations

Edited By: Jacob Katz Cogan, Ian Hurd, Ian Johnstone

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2015. All Rights Reserved.date: 23 September 2019

Subject(s):
Collective security — Membership of international organizations — International organizations, practice and procedure — Resolutions of international organizations

International law provides little support for a hard and fast distinction between formal and informal international organizations (IOs). To the extent that the terms are useful, it is to signify a relative value: some organizations exhibit a higher degree of institutionalization than others or, differently put, the mixture of formal and informal elements in any organizational design may locate the organization on different points on a continuum between formal and informal. This chapter explores to what extent the formal-informal distinction affects foundational decisions: the decision to set up an organization, to grant or withhold international legal personality, and to endow it with specific powers. It suggests that the distinction between formal and informal meets with little resonance in the law of IOs or, more accurately, that while founding actors can opt for higher or lower degrees of formalization or institutionalization, their intentions have little direct bearing on the legal nature of the organization per se.

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