Do We Need a New Theory of International Organizations?
The nature and scope of international politics are significantly different today than was true during most of the post-World War II years. New international realities have emerged that require new ways of describing, explaining, and analyzing. Changing global conditions of particular significance are, first, the increasing salience and seriousness of global environmental problems and, second, more active participation by international organizations in international politics, particularly in addressing global environmental problems. Existing theories of international politics are inadequate to account for or explain these phenomena, and the question therefore arises whether new or alternative "theories" and perspectives are required to keep pace with changing global conditions.
Many of the problems threatening and endangering the world today are substantively different from the continuing though changing problems of war and invasion. There is a threat of nuclear disaster, to be sure, but there are also emerging problems of environmental degradation, nationally and globally, that are just as serious. Given the complexity and transnational nature of such environmental problems as transboundary pollution, climate change, loss of genetic diversity, the greenhouse effect, and stratospheric ozone depletion, most states have recognized the necessity of facilitating international cooperation to address these problems. They have also recognized the instrumental role that international organizations can play in providing the necessary fora for gathering reliable and valid scientific information, in building consensus about the nature of environmental problems and the solutions required, and in fostering the cooperation and participation of states required to formulate and implement a global response to environmental problems.
International organizations, in particular international environmental organizations, have been in existence for more than a century ( Caldwell, 1972). What makes international organizations so significant for international