• One sign of the changing international system is the rapid rise over the last century in the number of intergovernmental organizations. There are many classifications of international organizations, including global, regional, and specialized intergovernmental organizations.
• Current international organization is the product of three lines of development: the idea that humans should live in peace and mutual support, the idea that the big powers have a special responsibility for maintaining order, and the growth of specialized international organizations to deal with narrow nonpolitical issues.
• The rapid growth of all types of international organizations stems from increased international contact among states and people, increased economic interdependence, the growing importance of transnational issues and political movements, the inadequacy of the state-centered system for dealing with world problems, small states attempting to gain strength by joining together, and successful intergovernmental organizations providing role models for new organizations.
• There are significant differences among views on the best roles of international organizations. Four existing and possible roles of intergovernmental organizations are: providing an interactive arena, acting as a center for cooperation among states, evolving into an independent national actor, and becoming a supranational organization.
• Some observers argue that international organizations are best suited to promoting cooperation among states rather than trying to replace the state-centered system. Still others contend that international organizations should concentrate on performing limited functional activities with the hope of building a habit of cooperation and trust that can later be built upon. Finally, many view international organizations as vehicles that should be manipulated to gain national political goals. The United Nations serves as an example of... [continues]
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