International Organizations: A Comparative Approach

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

8 THE QUALITY OF IGO TASK PERFORMANCE: PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE

It seems self-evident that the quality of an IGO's task performance determines its success or failure in terms of the expectations that the founding fathers of the organization had in mind and that led to its establishment in the first place. It is also obvious that the circumstances, both national and international, that prevailed at the time when the creation of the IGO was considered are likely to change with time. Tremendous changes have taken place in the political, economic, and physical environment of the world arena since the end of World War II, and these changes are reflected in relations within and among the states of the world. The move from the bipolar to the multipolar world, of which the United States is the only remaining global military power, is only the latest example. No wonder, then, that the turbulence of these post-Cold War changes has also affected IGOs and their task performance, and, indeed, has produced new conditions (sometimes better and sometimes worse) for the activities and effectiveness of INGOs as well, in the pursuit of their particular interests.

The initial enthusiasm associated with the creation of practically every IGO starts to diminish within a relatively short time and, with this development, its task performance begins to suffer. In many cases, this initial enthusiasm was fed by ideological fervor. In the case of the United Nations, it was originally the vision of a world without devastating war; then the ideal was self-government for colonial peoples and territories accompanied by economic and social improvement and the reform of international trade and commerce, followed in the late 1970s by concern over human rights. During the Cold War, looming over everything was the specter of devastating nuclear war. Nonetheless, the prospects of a world community,

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