Responsibility of International Organizations

University essay from Lunds universitet/Juridiska institutionen

Abstract: International organizations play increasingly important parts in international relations, yet a limited legal framework governs their activities. The International Law Commission identified the issue of responsibility of international organizations as early as 1963&semic however it was not until 2001 that it included the topic in its programme of work. At present, the Commission has provisionally adopted seven articles on the topic. The starting point for a discussion of the responsibility of an international organization is the question of its conceptual status. Legal personality of an international organization, including certain rights and duties, constitutes a prerequisite for responsibility. One must recognize that there are different views on how, and to what extent, an organization is granted its powers. The widely accepted implied powers doctrine determines an organization's capacities based on functionality, which ultimately constitutes the frame for the conduct of the organization and its organs and personnel. Furthermore, some objective elements are required in order for the organization to be able to maintain its personality towards a third party. The question of attribution of conduct has constituted one of the most controversial aspects of the subject. The crucial issue as regards imputability is the determination of whether an organ or agent acts on behalf of an organization. International organizations generally have very limited resources for the performance of their functions and are often dependant on external assistance. In order to claim that conduct performed by organs placed at the disposal of an organization by a state or organization is attributable to the former organization, one needs to determine whether it has exercised effective control over the conduct in question. International organizations generally enjoy certain autonomy but can not in reality function without their member states. Thus, the issue of the responsibility of the member states for the actions of the organization is another important issue to consider in this context. Although it does not appear controversial to attribute the same conduct to an organization and one or several of its member states, it is relevant to consider whether dual attribution could lead to joint responsibility. Another issue to consider is whether the member states have a subsidiary responsibility of the organization when the latter is unable to provide for reparation. The rules of responsibility of international organizations open up to a new field of international law. In the absence of a court with a specific competence with regard to international organization, the question of a forum conveniens for future dispute-settlement arises. Although arbitration constitutes an appropriate body for such, it may become necessary to establish a permanent forum for disputes arising between organizations, or between a state and an organization.

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