International Organizations and the Technologies of Governance

Hilary Charlesworth, Sally Engle Merry, B. S. Chimni, Javier Couso, Terence Halliday, Outi Korhonen, Vivian Lin, Eden Medina, Leslye Obiora, César Rodríguez-Garavito, Gregory Shaffer, Rene Urueña, Ruth Okediji

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


By “international organizations,” we refer to organizations beyond a single state that engage in transnational or global governance. This chapter addresses five types of international organizations: intergovernmental organizations whose members are states; international non- state organizations that directly address transnational or global policy; international civil society organizations; international commercial organizations; and hybrid public- private international organizations. The chapter’s case studies focus particularly on intergovernmental organizations, but in interaction with other organizations as they address issues of human rights; refugees and migration; women’s rights; health; intellectual property; conflict, security, and terrorism; and climate change. In assessing international organizations, the chapter begins by examining the relationship of these organizations to global order and disorder. While robust empirical research is limited on norm- making and monitoring, it is clear that a handful of countries in the Global North4 dominate intergovernmental organizations. This chapter describes how international and global governance operates through varieties of governance technologies. These technologies vary in how fully they engage transnational, national, and local actors, state and non- state, in their design and implementation. Technologies of governance have been criticized because they have few mechanisms for tapping into creativity and tacit knowledge at local levels and they implicitly vest expertise and normative authority in the Global North and centers of geopolitics or finance. In so doing, they mute the voices of many domestic actors. Our case studies demonstrate both the promise and problems of international organizations in enhancing human flourishing. They reveal the complexities of the engagement between the Global North and Global South and local and global processes. For transnational governance to produce social progress it will need to resolve difficulties of coordination, funding, accountability, and adaptability of governance technologies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRethinking Society for the 21st Century
Subtitle of host publicationReport of the International Panel on Social Progress: Volume 2: Political Regulation, Governance, and Societal Transformations
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages33
ISBN (Electronic)9781108399647
ISBN (Print)9781108423137
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)
  • General Business, Management and Accounting

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