International Organization – Concept, types, function and examples

We explain what an international organization is and how they are classified. What are their functions and a list of these organizations.

International organization - UN
International organizations may or may not be made up of various national states.

What is an international body?

International organizations or international organizations are all those associations or organized groups whose area of ​​action extends beyond the borders of a state or nation and that they have a permanent organic structure, focused on the fulfillment of some type of objectives around the common welfare.

They are very well structured international groupings, independent of the States where they operate, and that They pursue various informational, humanitarian, integrationist objectives, etc.. They are subject to international public law, have legal capacity and in some cases autonomous capacity to act.

International organizations may or may not be made up of various national states, or they can simply act as a mediation and cooperation body. For this reason, they are established through various international treaties, endowed with legal and formal recognition.

Types of international organizations

International organization - Greenpeace
NGOs operate in different regions as an alternative to state powers.

There are various ways of classifying international organizations, some of them proposed by the United Nations, based on their nature and the way they are constituted. Generally, this means distinguishing between those that have State representation and those that do not, as follows:

  • International governmental organizations (IGOs). Those made up of various States that undertake to cooperate and adhere to the lines of the organization, through emissaries who speak on their behalf in front of their partners or associates. For example, the United Nations.
  • International non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Those that are not made up of the States, but of private actors, social groups, humanitarian or ecological non-profit organizations, which act in different regions as an alternative to state powers.

Another form of classification distinguishes between permanent-type organisms, which have their own history, and non-permanent ones, which arise to resolve a specific episode and then disappear.

Functions of international organizations

International organizations can fulfill certain functions, in accordance with the spirit to which they obey and the specific needs of their member states, always seeking concerted action (although sometimes unilateral) and around the common good. Some of its functions can be:

  • Peaceful dispute resolution. Mediation in conflict situations, for example: to avoid war, establish a committee of overseers in critical situations, serve as a neutral space for debate.
  • Joint regulation of scientific-technological development. From time to time it is necessary to debate the scope of a technology or knowledge, and to set norms for the protection of humanity or to preserve a certain ethical talent from a specific discovery.
  • Fight against poverty. Economic cooperation and humanitarian aid can be carried out in a joint and coordinated manner to achieve greater results, in cases of natural disasters, humanitarian crises or the aftermath of war.
  • Limit the power of States. Through joint surveillance, the member states commit to adhere to certain political and humanitarian codes, since in the event of violating them, they could be sanctioned by the organization.
  • Promote economic agreements. To promote joint regional development, through the free market between regions or economic pacts of various kinds.

List of international organizations

International organization - WHO - WHO
WHO ensures the fight against diseases and other health issues.

Some of the best known International Organizations are:

  • United Nations (UN). Created at the end of the Second World War to replace the failed League of Nations, its fundamental objective is to serve as a neutral space for debate between nations and thus resolve disputes between them without reaching war, or provide conflicts with a Diplomatic option in the presence of the rest of the countries of the world. In addition, it has numerous specialized commissions in the promotion of culture, equality, education, health, etc.
  • World Labor Organization (ILO). Currently belonging to the United Nations, this body created in 1919 and consolidated in 1947, pursues the improvement of world working conditions, through the creation and promotion of workplaces, the minimum regulation of conditions, the prohibition and prosecution of child labor or forced labor, etc.
  • World Bank (WB). This organization operates throughout the globe, promoting the development of different countries through strategic advisory policies, educational promotion, loans and project financing, or simply supervision of international development initiatives.
  • United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It is a body attached to the UN, founded in 1945, with the purpose of sponsoring the democratization of knowledge, preserving the legacy of humanity and promoting learning in the sciences. One of its best-known plans is that of heritage designation, which grants historically particularly distinguished places the status of “world heritage”.
  • World Health Organization (WHO). Also attached to the United Nations, it is a global organization that ensures the fight against diseases, the improvement of sanitary conditions in developing countries, the care of epidemics and preventive health in general, which includes condemnation of certain products, services or activities.
  • World Trade Organization (WTO). It is the only international organization that contemplates the regulations in force in international trade, ensuring the best possible understanding between producers, consumers and exporters of goods and services, so that commercial activity is as fair, beneficial and equitable as possible.
  • International Monetary Fund (IMF). International financial organization based in Washington, USA, born in 1944 as a way to financially protect developing countries. Their work has been strongly questioned during the last decades, especially due to the bias of the institution that favors developed countries and the promotion of the so-called neoliberal economy in third world countries, which resulted in catastrophic social conditions in many of their cases. more distinguished, like the Argentine.
  • Organization of American States (OAS). The main political forum available to the States of the American continent, with the capacity for diplomatic and also financial pressure in the event that any of its member countries fail to comply with the fundamental guidelines of the organization in terms of human rights and adherence to democracy.
  • Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Financial organization that offers international loans to national, municipal and provincial governments, as well as to civil societies and private companies, in pursuit of growth and support of initiatives that allow economic diversification in the Americas.