Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Dag Harald Claes & Arild Underdal
International organizations (IOs) have three defining features: (1) they are constituted by members from more than one state, usually more than two; (2) they are oriented toward the pursuit of common goals, at least initially; and (3) they have a certain level of explicit formal structure, usually established by a treaty or constituent document. IOs are material entities, usually with offices and personnel. In most cases, they have a legal personality, and thus, they can function as actors in national and international politics. In general, organizations exhibit higher levels of goal specificity and formalization than other types of collectivities, such as social movements, informal networks, or more or less diffuse communities. There are many different types of IOs. The main distinction is between the IOs constituted by states and those that are constituted by other actors. The former are known as intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) and the latter as international nongovernmental ...