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Do institutions really matter? What are their consequences? Can they restrain states or get them to do something they otherwise would not do?

The terms International Institutions and International Organizations are said to be interchangeable in the legal and formal sense in the study of International Relations. However, defining institutions in international relations is seen as quite fuzzy as it can include both International Organizations such as the United Nations and the World Trade Organization or International Regimes, for example, the International Monetary Regime and the International Trade Regime. Nicholas Onuf in his essay makes an attempt to define the term institution. He describes institutions as ‘persistent and connected sets of rules, formal and informal, that prescribe behavioral roles, constrain activity and shape expectations’. He also noted that interstate relations encompass international regimes and international organizations.

The term International Organization is a formal continuous structure established by an agreement between members whether governmental or nongovernmental form two (2) or more sovereign states with the aim of pursuing the common interest of the of the membership. International Regimes in contrast, are specific rules, norms as well as decision making procedures. A key characteristic of international regimes is that they each focus in a specific area. Regimes focus on areas such as trade, telecommunications, environment, Food aid among others. International regimes may be both formal and or informal agreements. Examples of regimes are the Kyoto Protocol (environment) and the Intellectual Property Regulation (trade).

According to Realist, states are the primary actors in an anarchic international system and in the absence of an international authority, there are few norms or rules that can restrain them. Realist, Hans Morgenthau, believes that aspects such as International Law and Government, which are also...
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