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 15: Deformalization of International Organizations Law

Jarna Petman


Jarna Petman Once you start down the antiformalist road, there is no place to stop. Stanley Fish (1999: 2) International organizations are set up to meet functional needs. There will, however, always remain at least some uncertainty as to exactly what those needs are, exactly what the correct interpretation of those needs is, and exactly how they are to be applied in each particular case. It is this ever present uncertainty that leads to the deformalization of international organizations law. Let us assume, for example, that there arises a need to reach for world peace. Eventually, states will come together to negotiate a set of rules for peace and to agree on the establishment of an organ that will be entrusted with the governance and supervision of those rules. A set of rules to govern that organization will also have to be agreed upon. In those rules the functions of the organization will be expressed. Indeed, the functions of any international organization will always be expressed in its rules. In fact, that they are so expressed is an absolutely essential aspect of them. Without rules, those in the positions of power within an organization would be left free to simply translate their own interests and needs into the functional needs of the whole. So, a constitution is required. However, while constitutional rules will be needed they will not be enough. This is because they are indeterminate and may be interpreted in conflicting fashions. Such indeterminacy refers not only to the...

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