International Organizations: A Comparative Approach

By Werner J. Feld; Robert S. Jordan et al. | Go to book overview

5 IGO INTERACTIONS WITH MEMBER STATES AND OTHER IGOs: THE PURSUIT OF DOMESTIC AND FOREIGN POLICY GOALS AND ATTEMPTS AT COLLECTIVE SECURITY

When we discussed in Chapter 2 the genesis of IGOs, we stressed that these organizations are the creatures of their member states, and are established for the basic purpose of achieving objectives and carrying out functions perceived by the prospective member governments to be in some way beyond the reach of their national capabilities. Hence, IGOs are instruments of policy for member governments, whose aspirations and expectations ride on the appropriate task performance of the IGOs created or joined by them. Inevitably, member governments make cost-benefit calculations regarding the usefulness of their IGOs; they want to retain their influence in, and perhaps exercise control over, these IGOs. Decidedly, they do not want to slide into the position of Goethe's Sorcerer's Apprentice, who, after having magically transformed an old broom into an efficient water carrier, loses complete control over his creation and is unable to stop its persevering, untiring activities.

The desire to minimize the loss of freedom in national policy-making and to guide, if not control, the task performance of IGOs permeates the relations between member governments and international institutions. This is the case in universal organizations such as the United Nations, its specialized agencies, and other multilateral units such as UNCTAD and GATT, as well as in such regional organizations as the EC. The desire for influence is especially pronounced in such international financial organizations as the IMF, the World Bank, and regional development banks.

The influence of individual member states on the activities of IGOs varies and may change over time. For example, the influence of the United States in various bodies of the United Nations had steadily declined over the course of the Cold War, while that of the developing countries, in coalition with

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