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 13: Dissolution and Succession: The Transmigration of the Soul of International Organizations

Ramses A. Wessel


Ramses A. Wessel SOUL SEARCHING Perhaps the ultimate question to judge the autonomous existence of international organizations is whether member states can simply dissolve an international organization – or replace it by another one – once its services are no longer considered necessary. From the perspective of states creating international organizations to perform certain functions they cannot or do not wish to perform themselves, one would argue that organizations are primarily tools in the hands of their member states; and, once no longer needed or appropriate, tools obviously lose their relevance. In fact, it is this approach that would seem to have been dominant during most of the life and times of international organizations (Klabbers, Chapter 1 of this book, and 2005a: 151–181). After all, since the attribution of powers principle remains at the heart of our understanding of international organizations, the latter must wait for whatever table scraps national governments decide to leave them, if they do at all. It would be too easy to contend that the alternative, constitutional, perspective would focus more on – what Germans would refer to as – the ‘Eigendynamik’ of international organizations and, hence, would draw our attention to their autonomy (Collins and White, 2011). In fact, as shown in the first chapter of this book, constitutionalism, albeit from a normative rather than a pragmatic angle, also purports to control the activities of international organizations. One could argue that, while functionalism keeps international organizations in the hands of their member states, constitutionalism places them under the...

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