Research Handbook on the Law of International Organizations

Research Handbook on the Law of International Organizations

Research Handbooks in International Law series

Edited by Jan Klabbers and Åsa Wallendahl

This pioneering Research Handbook with contributions from renowned experts, provides an overview of the general doctrines making up the law of international organizations.

Chapter 12: Preparing Articles on Responsibility of International Organizations: Does the International Law Commission Take International Organizations Seriously? A Mid-term Review

Niels M. Blokker

Subjects: asian studies, asian law, law - academic, asian law, european law, human rights, intellectual property law, international economic law, trade law, public international law, politics and public policy, human rights, international politics, international relations


Niels M. Blokker* INTRODUCTION The purpose of this contribution is to examine the current work of the International Law Commission (ILC) and its Special Rapporteur Giorgio Gaja with regard to responsibility of international organizations. It will not give a full overview of this work. Rather, the focus will be on two specific questions. The first question stems from the fact that the ILC in its work has taken as a starting point the articles on state responsibility. In using these articles, has the ILC sufficiently taken into account the special nature of international organizations, the characteristics by which they distinguish themselves from states? The second question is whether the ILC has sufficiently taken into consideration the existing great variety of international organizations, from very small institutions with hardly any powers – and corresponding little likelihood for acting wrongfully and being held responsible – to powerful entities with considerable operational activities and related possibilities for responsibility issues to arise. However, before these questions are addressed, the section below will first present a brief introduction to the issue of responsibility of international organizations. Why has this issue been only of minor importance, in practice and in doctrine, until some twenty years ago? Why is it of much more importance nowadays? EMERGING ATTENTION FOR THE ISSUE OF RESPONSIBILITY OF INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS: FASHION OR A RESPONSE TO A REAL NEED? The notion of responsibility is closely linked to the notion of obligation. A 313 314 Research handbook on the law of international organizations legal person – no...

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