Research Handbook on the Law of International Organizations
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Research Handbook on the Law of International Organizations

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.
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Chapter 11: International Organizations and Treaties: Contractual Freedom and Institutional Constraint

Catherine Brölmann


Catherine Brölmann INTRODUCTION – ORGANIZATIONS AND TREATIES In a classic international setting, the conclusion of treaties is the pre-eminent tool for maintaining legal relations, and a sure sign of independent actorship. International organizations have long entered the select group of international treaty-makers, and they are now party to a large number of treaties. Organizations are also associated with treaty law and practice in other ways: notably in their role as facilitators for the conclusion of multilateral treaties by states, sometimes in such a prominent position that one could forget that technically they are not themselves a contracting party. This chapter first considers some aspects of the organizing theme in this book: the distinction between the ‘functionalist’ and the ‘constitutionalist’ view of international organizations. Subsequent sections then address the principal topic: the conclusion of treaties by international organizations. This includes international organizations’ treaty-making practice, the applicable law of treaties, and specific questions that may arise in relation to international organizations, as opposed to states: which treaties allow for international organizations to become a party; and to which treaties is a given organization allowed to become a party? The latter question usually entails an appraisal of the ‘powers’ of an organization, which in turn is linked to an interpretation of the organization’s constituent treaty – this is briefly discussed in the same section. The following section then addresses the role of organizations as forum for treaty processes of states. In a general sense, this forum role is part of ‘lawmaking’ by organizations, a...

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