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 16: Reflections on Institutional Design – Especially Treaty Bodies

Geir Ulfstein


Geir Ulfstein INTRODUCTION The forms of international cooperation between states abound. Such collaboration may be ad hoc or go on for several years as a formal conference, as was the case with the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) (1973–82). States may also want to establish permanent fora for their cooperation, either without a formal basis, such as the cooperation between the world’s major industrialized countries meeting in the Group of Eight (G 8); a non-binding foundation such as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE); or they may enter into a binding treaty establishing formal organs for their cooperation. This may take the form of an international organization, such as the United Nations (UN), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) or the African Union (AU). But states may also choose to establish formal structures which are not international organizations in the traditional sense. Such structures may be labelled ‘treaty bodies’ and they will be the main focus of this chapter. Treaty bodies come in different forms and serve a variety of functions. The Meeting of States Parties (SPLOS) established by the 1982 UNCLOS (art. 319 (2)) elects members of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, and deals with budgetary and administrative matters of the Tribunal.1 While the Tribunal for the Law of the Sea is an international court, the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf has a...

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