Research Handbooks in International Law series
Edited by Jan Klabbers and Åsa Wallendahl
Chapter 2: Personality of International Organizations
Tarcisio Gazzini INTRODUCTION The legal personality of international organizations is a classic but always topical and complex theme in international law, a theme to which a remarkable number of works have been dedicated and which continues to attract the attention of governments, international organizations themselves, and scholars.1 It is nowadays undisputed that international organizations may possess legal personality in international law – although not identical to that of states – as well as in national legal systems. It is equally undisputed that international organizations may conclude international treaties, bring and receive international claims, send and receive legations, and enjoy privileges and immunities before national courts. However, many questions still remain unsettled or controversial, including how an international organization acquires international legal personality; in what way such a personality is different from that of states; and how the responsibility for internationally wrongful acts is to be allocated between the organization and its members. This chapter discusses the process through which an international organization may acquire international legal personality and the main features of such a personality. It also touches upon issues of international responsibility and immunities that are fully treated elsewhere in this book. It finally deals with the legal personality international organizations may enjoy within the jurisdiction of member and non-member states. INTERNATIONAL LEGAL PERSONALITY OF INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS The traditional departing point to discuss the international legal personality of international organizations is the Reparation for Injuries advisory opinion delivered by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 1949. After observing that ‘the...
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