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For the political science journal, see: International Organization

An international organisation (also called intergovernmental organisation) is an organisation of international scope or character.

There are two main types of international organisation:

Generally and correctly used, the term "international organiation" is used to mean international governmental organisations only. It is in that sense that the term is used in the remainder of this article.

Legally speaking, an international organisation must be established by a treaty providing it with legal recognition. International organisations so established are subjects of international law, capable of entering into agreements among themselves or with states. Thus international organisations in a legal sense are distinguished from mere groupings of states, such as the G-8 and the G-77, neither of which has been founded by treaty, though in non-legal contexts these are sometimes referred to as international organisations as well. International organisations must also be distinguished from treaties; while all international organisations are founded on a treaty, many treaties (e.g., the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)) do not establish an international organisation and rely purely on the parties for their administration.

International organisations can be categorised in two main ways: by their membership, and by their function.

International organisations differ in who their members are and in who is permitted to join them. Membership of some organisations (global organisations) is open to all the nations of the world. This category includes the United Nations and its specialized agencies and the World Trade Organization.

Some specialized agencies predate all other types. In the 19th century, France was the fons et origo of many of them. By this it is meant that much of the driving force to form such bodies (such as those which maintain the SI (metric system) came from the French, and that their headquarters are in France, often in Paris. Under the Third Republic, the International Exposition of 1878 in that city held a great number of meetings of such international organisations - as opposed to the preceding regimes. The motivation was that to keep France a republic and not slip back into either a monarchist or Bonapartist regime, the republicans would underscore their inheritance of the crusading nature of the French Revolution against feudal cultural remnants within France, which had been generalised to the rest of feudal Europe, eventually to the world. Some conclude from this example that internationalism often has national origins, at the difference of globalism.

Other organisations are only open to members from a particular region or continent of the world, like European Union, African Union, ASEAN, and so on.

Finally, some organisations base their membership on other criteria: cultural or historical links (the Commonwealth of Nations, La Francophonie, the Community of Portuguese Language Countries), level of economic development or type of economy (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Organization of Petroleum-Exporting Countries (OPEC)), or religion (Organization of the Islamic Conference).

Were it to come about, the ultimate international organisation would be a Federal World Government.

Examples of global organisationsEdit

Examples of regional organisationsEdit

Organisations formed on miscellaneous membership criteriaEdit

International organisations can also be considered functionally, based on the areas and fields in which they operate.

Financial international organisationsEdit

The Union of International Associations provides information on international organisations.

See alsoEdit

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