International institutions

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International institutions such as the UN, the World Bank, the IMF and the WTO, play an increasing role in global governance, in light of global challenges such as climate change and world poverty.  However, the democratic accountability of global institutions is perceived to be weak and calls to improve democratic legitimacy are on the rise.  In Europe, much power has shifted up to EU bodies with an estimated 60-70% of new legislation influenced by EU processes. Global financial institutions are currently facing increased scrutiny following the global credit crunch

What are the implications?

  • Complexity about where power is held
  • A need for voluntary and community organisations to hold these international institutions to account on behalf of the public
  • Potential risk to civil liberties if inappropriate legislation is handed down from international organisations
  • Opportunity for increasing individual empowerment (for example, individuals can take cases to the European Court of Human Rights)
  • Implications for contracting and procurement as organisations have to adhere to EU legislation
  • Citizens may re-assert their national interests in positive and disruptive ways (for example developing countries producing their own medication)
  • Possible tensions between organisations working in different parts of the world

Moving forward

As international organisations develop increasing powers, the VCS may want to influence their policies.  Is this something your organisation is well placed to do?Would working in collaboration allow you to do this more successfully?   

Legislation from international institutions (such as the UN and the EU) increasingly influence legislation developed in this country.  How can your organisation stay informed on planned and potential developments to this?  Could your organisation act as a broker of this information for others?

An increase in individual empowerment related to this aspect of globalisation allows people to defend their rights and responsibilities in a global sphere.  How can you support individuals and organisations to do this?

Are there ways in which you can help protect civil liberties either through campaigning or providing support and information?

Want to know more?

Power shift: do we need better global economic institutions?

Published by: Institute for Public Policy Research

Date: 2007

Format: PDF

What is it? A report examining the current position of international institutions, and argues for a reform in these in order to meet current global challenges.

How useful is this?  The report examines the World (WTO), (IMF) and the World Bank, and looks at how some countries, and organisations within them, have been able to assert their influence on global institutions over the interests of others.  It argues that for a successful global community, there need to be controls and measures in place in order to allow equal access and support for all countries, primarily via trade negotiations, arguing that the strength of international institutions is their ability to support governments to work together, whatever their position in the global community.

Other comments:

Reforming international institutions

Published by: Foreign and Commenwealth Office (FCO)

Date: April 2008

Format: Web pages

What is it? The Prime Minister’s speech outlining the government’s views on international institutional reform. 

How useful is this?  This speech, delivered in Boston, Massachusetts, outlines the current challenges the current Labour government sees in the global community, and outlines the areas it views that need to be tackled, primarily: climate change; terrorism; nuclear proliferation; poverty and shared prosperity.  The speech argues that international institutions should be the tool to dealing with these issues in an internationally joined up way.  An interesting insight into how a Labour government plans to reform international institutions to promote Britain’s interests.

Other comments:

Why bother with Brussels?

Published by: NCVO

Date: Ongoing

Format: Web pages and PDFs

What is it? A bank of resources aimed at making the EU understandable for the VCS

How useful is this?  Ranging from useful contacts to documents outlining EU procedures, methods of engagement, and links to other supporting bodies, these pages offer a useful resource for any VCO or individual who wants to know more about the EU, how to access it, and the positive and negative impacts it could have on your organisation.

Other comments:

Last updated at 16:11 Wed 23/Feb/11.


How will this affect your organisation? Have you considered it during your strategic planning? Can you share any interesting relevant links?

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