Edited by William F. Shughart II, Laura Razzolini and Michael Reksulak
Chapter 27: International organizations
The public choice approach to international organizations and agreements differs from much of the political science literature on international relations because it rejects the unitary actor model. In public choice theory, the actors are individuals (such as voters, politicians, bureaucrats and lobbyists), not countries or states. As individuals, they may be members of collective organizations. Within these organizations, they may take collective decisions according to the rules which they or others have agreed upon. The actors are guided by interests rather than lofty ideals. Their personal interests lead them to join an organization and participate in its affairs. Moreover, as members, they share the interest of maintaining and expanding the organization. However, these are not interests of the organization but the common interests of its members. International agreements are not concluded by states but by politicians – members of the participating governments and, in most cases, the majority of parliamentarians. International organizations are established by the same groups of actors but, in addition, they introduce a new class of actors: international bureaucrats.
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