International Organizations in Treaty-Making

For many years, theorists have been debating on whether international organizations can actually enter or get involved in any international commitment or treaty. A treaty may be defined as any agreement between countries or states and is abiding at the international law. International organizations such as UN, EU, and council of Europe among others may be parties to a treaty. One of the many questions that theorists attempt to answer is whether the international organizations have really improved the treaty-making process. A treaty can be bilateral; strictly between two countries, or multilateral; between three or more countries. International organizations usually pose a challenge to the international relation theorists. Some of these theorists believe that countries should be the only entities responsible for any international affair. The book “International Organizations as Law-makers” written by Jose Alvarez has a deep description of international organizations. The author describes the international organizations through their characteristics. He views international organizations as an outcome of agreements that are established by various states and have at least a single member state that is capable of acting in the international law. However, he outlines several complexities encountered while describing an international entity.

In the twentieth and twenty first century, more international organizations have been formed where; 37 IOs were established by 1909. By 1885, about 378 IOs were in existence and the number rose to 250 by the year 2000. One of the problems encountered while analyzing international organizations is taxonomy that shows their functions and forms. In his book, Alvarez seeks to establish the various roles of public international organizations. He ought to establish their common traits, roles and practice of international organizations in the international relations as well as their capacity to bind nations and make laws that impact upon individual behaviors and regimes.  The need for treaties has been increasing as the world’s interdependence increases. This has been intensified by continuous technological advancements, trans-nationalism and economic globalization among other factors. The UN, WTO, EU and Council of Europe are some of the international organizations that have been mandated with international functions. In order to establish whether the treaty making process in an IO is democratic, there are various modes and process that should be considered.

First, it is important to note that the IOs have improved the diversity of the actors who are involved in treaty making. The less powerful governments, NGO’s as well as other interest groups such as international law service have been the winners. For the United Nations (UN), there are several roles that have been designed being an International organization. One of the agreements in the UN is that any treaty must be registered before it is invoked or enforced by the respective judiciary organ. The main aim of this clause was to prevent any proliferation of the secret treaties. Such secret treaties may not be beneficial to all member states and may not represent the interests of the parties. The UN in the 1986 general assembly came up with several laws regarding treaties. One of the laws was considering all fundamental roles of treaties in the international relations. The other role included the recognition of consensual nature of all treaties as well as their importance as sources of the international law. The other role included noting that all principles of good faith and free consent are universally recognized. Another role was affirming the need of enhancing progressive and codification development of international law. From these and other roles, Jose Alvarez discusses other ways in which international organizations can achieve IOs standard. The move to have IOs has changed the international obligations. It is not only important to analyze customs, treaties and the general principles, but there are other relevant obligations that international organizations should perform so as to fit those old categories.

The UN actions may be contrasting the individual views of member states. When there is the absence of a general provision that concerns treaty making authority in the UN, any conclusion is refereed to at least six articles in the charter. In most cases, the United Nations has availed extensively from such clauses. The extent of any international organization to make decision mostly relies on the powers that the members’ states have delegated to the organization. It should be noted that there are only scant references. The security council of UN under article 43 has the authority to enter into an agreement with a member state so as to get military troops in its avail. Also, article 57 and 63 of the UN empowers the social and economic councils to conclude any agreement with other international organizations so as to bring these members in a relationship with the United Nations. The United Nations has been engaged in numerous agreements. For instance, it was involved in an agreement with the United States (headquarters agreement). Another example is the peace reinforcement or peace keeping operations in various countries of the world. They are based on the agreements made with the countries that provide their troops as well as the host states. These agreements outline the legal positions of the troops and the issues of immunities. If UN wishes to provide any humanitarian assistance, any agreement with the host country should be at the heart of the effort. In other word, the united nation enters into treaties on a grander scale than it was envisaged by its founders.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is also an international organization that has the capacity to make treaty. But the question still remains whether WTO has the capacity to improve its treaty making process. The countries members of WTO recognized that their relations in fields of economic and trade endeavor must be conducted with an aim of raising the standard of living, and ensuring full employment among the member countries. It was also established so as to expand the production of services and commodities in the member countries so as to allow the optimal use of the world’s resources. The member states recognize the need for positive efforts meant to make sure that developing countries have a share in the international trade. There are five main functions of the world trade organization and these functions have helped a lot in improving treaty making. One of the functions is facilitating the administration, implementation and the operations of the agreement as well as the multilateral trade agreements. The second function is providing forums for negotiations among the members’ states on issues concerning multilateral trade relations. The third function is administering the trade policy review mechanisms that are provided in the agreement. The last function is the development and reconstruction of the affiliate agencies with an aim of achieving a global economic policy.

The WTO makes decisions through consensus among the member states. Any matter is decided through voting where the majority wins. The general council and the ministerial conference have the authority to adopt any interpretations of the agreement including multilateral trade agreements. The decision making process in WTO involves a large number of states as well as other non-state voices. This helps to improve the democratic process in the organization. This means that any decision made in the WTO meeting is democratic and the treaty making processes are also democratic. The organization meets the IO standards and permits more governments to participate in decision making regardless of their forms of governance. Any treaty making process in WTO enhances the powers of all executive branches in governments.

European Union is one of most influential international organizations whose powers and operations have been critical throughout the world. The union was first proposed on 1970s by German prime minister with the aim of introducing unified European states for quantitative change. To enhance an international scene on the treaty, the union was to be offered an international legal entity status. The legal entity was to offer the union with a common ground through which joint policies from within and without member states can be developed. In addition, the status offered the union the ability to act on and for all member states. The compromise and sacrifice of national sovereignty when it comes to foreign affair requires a trusted entity and hence European Union is one of such organizations whose member states trust especially when it comes to foreign policy formulation and implementation. This is one of the ways in which the EU has promoted its treaty making process. There are many member states in the EU and therefore a democratic treaty making process is needed.    

The union has been accorded with the powers to make treaties in the international scene on behalf of member states. Treaty making power of the union has been accorded through article 24 TUE. Through the treaty making power by the organization, there have been a number of treaties in foreign countries which has been successfully signed and implemented. For example, in peacekeeping efforts, European Union has signed various treaties including operations in countries such as Congo, Bosnia and New Zealand among others.

The European Union offers member states a high bargaining power than when it comes to making treaties on individualized states. In this case, it becomes easy to make treaties particularly to none member countries across the world whose interests are spread among various member states. In additional, the union assists in making treaties with other internationally acceptable organizations such as Common Wealth (CW), United Nation’s agencies and NAFTA among others. European Union is therefore, a significant organization when it comes into making internationally acceptable treaties. First, the union has a legal entity and hence in a position to sign binding treaties on behalf of the union and member states. Secondly, it offers a bargaining power to member states, for quantitative benefit. Lastly, a member state finds it appropriate, secure and convenient to sign a treaty with the union rather than approaching individual members of union at individual capacity. The union is internationally recognized and hence treaties signed under its watch are binding to member states concerned. Through its set procedures and guidelines there has been a smooth signing of treaties in the international scene.

Council of Europe is another internationally acceptable organization which has played a significant role when it comes into international treaty making. The organization was founded in the year 1949 with the aim of establishing a United State of Europe, with internationally acceptable human rights, democratic governance and the application of the rule of law. The council has been responsible in establishing a common standard among European states and harmonizing the process of legislation among member states since its establishment. International treaties are some of most influential aspects which have been facilitated by the organization compared with other legal functions. The organization concentrates on four key issues while establishing treaties across the world. These issues include human rights, culture, health, public security and technological development. The council has worked hard to ensure that human rights as defined in the international scene are highly upheld in all members in the continent. The council acts in the monitoring capacity to ensure that treaties entered under its watch are followed and their objects realized. The aim of this aspect is to ensure that treaties are not only contained into paper but also implemented substantially. In the monitoring process, the council identifies all the challenges experienced including both the technical, economic and legal constraints. From this point, possible solutions are developed to ensure that such challenges are addressed in future. In addition, the council has the power to hold responsible individuals and member states, likely to undermine the implementation and realization of a certain treaty.

The council of Europe has a functionally secretariat which is responsible for the custody of documents involved in an international treaty. This offers a secured and reliable source of information about treaties within the European Community. The council also assists in establishing clear guidelines when it comes to partial agreements among member states. Applicable members are well defined by the council to avoid unnecessary contention which may bring mayhem or enmity among parties. The council comprises of foreign ministers of member states and committees with foreign interests. This implies that issues raised and treaties signed by member states are relatively acceptable by all member states. These committees seek some approval from respective parliamentary committees to offer legal backup while establishing treating. In this case, all the drafts of treaties are passed through the legislature or committees for amendment and approval before signing. Intergovernmental committees are established by the council to ensure that a treaty is acceptable and does not violate sovereignty of any member state. The Council allows non-member states to act as conventional observers to its acts and operations. Apart from being observers, the non- member states such as USA, Canada and Mexico among others are involved in signing of such treaties. In addition, they are called upon to finance at their own will to support activities of the council and the implementation of these treaties. The Council of Europe is therefore an influential platform through which numerous international tries are signed and implemented.

In conclusion, IOs have increased the options for treaty initiators. From the four IOs analyzed above, one key similarity is the formation of a special council that deals with treaty making. This leads to a conclusion that international organizations have improved treaty making through involvement of specialized branches or councils. These specialized councils ensure that the process of treaty making follows the right procedure as stipulated in their agreement. The involvement of non-members in the treaty making process has also helped to ensure a smooth treaty making process. The member states in an international organization are treated equally hence there is cooperation in a treaty making process. One of the things that should be looked into is the composition of the international organization. These organizations should have members from all parts of the world to ensure that no nation is discriminated against. The international community has promulgated several multilateral instruments thereby providing broad legal framework for the parties involved. The benefits obtained by member states in international organizations are more than the shortcomings.

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