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The Legal Nature of International Organizations

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image of Nordic Journal of International Law

Among contemporary writers on international law it is a widely held view that international organizations are new kind of subjects of international law besides the States, i.e., have an international legal personality distinct from that of their member States. Many writers, indeed, treat this as something almost self-evident and beyond dispute. Actually, however, the international legal personality of international organizations remains a theoretical thesis rather than a scientific fact. Although this thesis seems to be supported by most writers, there are considerable differences of opinion among theorists as regards both the basis of that international personality and its meaning. Furthermore, some important aspects of the matter have been given little attention by most writers. It would seem, therefore, that the problem is far from solved. Some writers differ from the majority and deny that international organizations have international legal personality. They have, I submit, convincingly shown that there are strong reasons to question the validity of the generally accepted doctrine.1 The purpose of the present paper is to set forth some of the facts which support the view of this minority and which deserve more attention than has so far been given to them.

Affiliations: 1: Division of the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs


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