International Organizations: A Comparative Approach to the Management of Cooperation

By Robert S. Jordan | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ONE

The Analysis of International Organizations: An Overview

The world at the turn of the twenty-first century is vastly different from the prior sweep of modern history The ascendancy of the state as the primary actor in international politics is challenged by simultaneous trends toward globalism, on the one hand, and subnational particularisms, on the other. Within this flux, an enigmatic duality is at work. International governmental organizations are developing new ways of doing old business, that is, in humanitarian intervention, mass refugee resettlement, or international finance. Meanwhile, old ways of doing new business are reemerging, that is, civil and ethnic warfare, or nuclear weapons research, testing, proliferation and control. 1 These developments, coupled with the proliferation of nongovernmental organizations and international nongovernmental organizations, are rapidly altering the contemporary international scene. Moreover, the industrial era of the twentieth century is being profoundly challenged by the electronic era of the next century, which accelerates the rate of change. 2

The proliferation of international organizations appears to be a long-awaited manifestation of the perennial hopes of Wilsonian idealism; in particular, of incipient global governance through some form of representation based on popular consent. In other words, there are strong indications of a transformation in world politics, from the primacy of the national state to one in which international institutions provide the arena for conducting relations between states, urged on by necessity, design, and desire (or some combination of the three). But the process remains incomplete and the outcome indistinct, owing to its halting, largely unplanned and unanticipated manner. The result is a lack of clarity about the current situation in international politics, which in turn allows the

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