International Organizations: Definition, History, Types and Membership Indonesian

International organizations are organizations that are formed and are members of more than one country that are made voluntarily on the basis of common ground, the aim of which is to create world peace in the system of international relations.

International organizations generally have countries as members, but often other entities can also apply for membership. Both make international law and are governed by it.

This paper will discuss the definition, history, types, functions and organizational structure for international organizations.

Definition and role of international organizations

International organizations can be defined, according to the International Law Commission as organizations that are established by treaties or other instruments governed by international law and have their own international legal personality. According to Quincy Wright, international organization is the art of creating and managing general and regional organizations consisting of independent nations to facilitate cooperation in the same aims and objectives.

International organizations were born out of the need for cooperation. Along with social development, dependence on others is increasing, this applies in domestic society and also in the international community. This general problem requiring concerted action was first felt on the non-political front. Initially international organizations were formed to meet the needs of cooperation during the industrial revolution.

International organizations have a role as a forum for fostering cooperation and preventing the intensity of conflict among fellow members. In addition, international organizations are also a vehicle for negotiations and produce decisions that are mutually agreed upon and mutually beneficial to the parties involved. International organizations also act as independent institutions in carrying out activities such as social activities, humanity and environmental preservation assistance.

International organizations have a role in political, economic and social issues. In social issues, international organizations play a role in securing and maintaining fair and humane working conditions for men, women and children in the territory of the organization’s members. In addition, international organizations play a role in promoting and assisting Red Cross organizations that aim to improve health, prevent poets and reduce suffering around the world.

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History of international organizations

The beginning of the process of forming international organizations dates back to the 19th century. Innovations related to the rise of industrialization, communications and methods of transport led to the creation of special purpose bodies that were formerly called public international unions.

The union is designed to facilitate government cooperation in addressing economic and social issues. The most famous unions include the Telegraphic Union (1985) and the Universal Postal Union (1874). The two organizations are the surviving organizations as specialized agencies of the United Nations.

In the political field, efforts to institutionalize the European great powers were made at the Congress of Vienna in 1815. At that time European governments envisioned the European family of states as an organized entity. Finally, this concept was extended by the Hague Conferences in 1899 and 1907. At the Hague Conference, small extra-European states were also allowed to participate in political deliberations.

Toward the end of the 19th century, the Pan American Union and inter-American confederations began to form. These conferences reinforced the Monroe Doctrine and Simon Bolivar’s assertions by promoting the notion that the states of the Western Hemisphere were distinct subgroups within a larger multi-state system. In the early 19th century it provided most of the foundations for the development of international organizations since World War I.

The differences that emerged between political and non-political bodies, between big countries and small countries, between regional and non-regional organizations during this period were very significant in the course of subsequent international organizations. In this period, basic patterns of organizational structure and procedures were developed. During this period, the expansion of the concept of international organizations to include other entities outside the European state system has also begun.

During this period the development of international institutions had the dual objective of promoting coordinated responses by states to problems of peace relations in an era of economic, social and technical interdependence. In addition, institutions recognizing the need to moderate conflicts in the political and military fields became very operative during this period.

The creation of the League of Nations and the International Labor Organization at the end of World War I was the first attempt to combine these organizations into one general organization. The League of Nations was the first general international organization.

The League of Nations at that time brought together the threads of the council of the great powers, the general conference of statesmen and the international bureau. The League of Nations is a multipurpose organization that was formerly focused on the political and security goals of war and world peace.

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After World War II, the League of Nations was replaced by the United Nations. The United Nations became a public organization that inherited and learned from the good and bad experiences of the League of Nations. The United Nations is becoming a central component of a varied and decentralized system of international institutions.

The organizational plan formulated in the United Nations Charter calls for the coordination of specialized agencies by a central agency, especially that of the Economic and Social Council and the utilization and control of regional bodies mainly through the Security Council.

The organizational system in the post-World War I era involved specialized agencies that were newly formed and coordinated by the United Nations (UN) . By that time the post-1945 system had involved the development of various kinds of local organizations which for the most part functioned independently without ties to the central organization.

Therefore, the term United Nations System can be used appropriately to refer to the United Nations and its specialized agencies. However, the term United Nations does not cover a number of regional organizations that have developed independently.

Types of international organizations

International organizations are organizations that have members from more than one country. Some international organizations are very large, for example business companies. There are also international organizations which are small in size and dedicated to specific goals such as the conservation of a species. Following are the types of international organizations.

1. International Governmental Organizations (IGOs)

Intergovernmental organizations or IGOs ​​are formed because many governments create international organizations. There are more than 300 intergovernmental organizations worldwide. The intergovernmental organization consists of sovereign states. Intergovernmental organizations are an important aspect of international law.

One of the best known and largest intergovernmental organizations is the United Nations (UN). The United Nations was created at the end of World War II, with the aim of avoiding future wars. The main goal of the UN itself is to maintain peace throughout the world.

The United Nations has several special subgroups such as the World Health Organization (WHO) or the World Health Organization. WHO has a responsibility to provide guidance on international health matters and to set health standards.

Besides WHO, there are also organizations that focus on culture such as the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organizations (UNESCO). There are also several countries that form multi-state organizations with economic, political and military objectives such as the United States, Canada, European countries, which are members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). NATO is a defense organization. Countries that are members of NATO have had agreements to support each other during conflicts.

2. International Nongovernmental Organizations (INGOs or NGOs)

Unlike intergovernmental organizations, INGOs are made up of individuals, not corporations or governments. INGOs serve a variety of functions and represent a variety of interests. Non-governmental actors are organizations that have no affiliation with the government but play an important role in international politics.

3. Multinational Corporations

Some international groups are looking for profits. An example is the Toyota company, the world’s largest automaker. Toyota itself is a multinational company. Toyota is headquartered in Japan and has factories around the world including China, the United States and South Africa.

Toyota sells and manufactures cars in various countries. Multinational companies like Toyota must consider local culture and traditions when setting up factories and products in a particular country.

Another multinational company is Atlanta-based Coca-Cola. Apart from that there are also diamond companies de Beers based in South Africa and Adidas based in Germany.

4. Non-profit Organizations

Non-profit organization means this organization is not looking for material gain. Non-profit organizations usually have the same focus or interest as the environment, humanitarian aid and even entertainment. One example of a non-profit organization is the National Geographic Society.

The National Geographic Society was formed in 1888 and is based in Washington DC The National Geographic Society is one of the largest scientific and educational institutions in the world. The organization focuses on exploration, geography, archeology and natural sciences.

Another international organization with more specific interests is the International Olympic Committee, an international non-profit organization based in Switzerland. The International Olympic Committee regulates the Olympics, sports and athletes from around the world.

Another well-known non-profit organization is The Red Cross or Red Cross. The Red Cross is tasked with providing assistance to areas experiencing difficulties. The Red Cross is an organization based in Switzerland.

5. Other International Organizations<

Some international organizations combine all three types of organizations. They create income or profits to support themselves. There are also international organizations that do not have these goals, for example, organized religion.

Sometimes, religion can directly influence government. For example, the Israeli government supports Jews and Judaism around the world. Jews from other countries have legal entry into Israel and can establish citizenship.

Organized religion can also influence government indirectly. For example the priests and bishops of the Catholic Church. They influenced their large congregation.

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Catholics are led by the Pope whose head office is in the Vatican, Italy. The Catholic Church is also run like an international company. Local priests, nuns and bishops work with their congregations to make life better for their communities. This is similar to the way international companies regulate their members in other countries.

With the various international organizations that exist, their objectives also vary, such as humanitarian, cultural, social, economic activities, maintenance of order, security, and international peace. Sinaumed’s can learn all of that in the book Why? International Organization which is packaged in an attractive way.


Organizational structure of international organizations

The following is the international organizational structure:

1. Headquarters
International organizations set up and also improve the head office.

2. Membership
In international organizations, there are two types of membership namely; original members or founders and other members who follow. These two members govern the same laws and facilities.

3. Objectives
International organizations have several objectives. And the main role of international organizations is to achieve these goals.

4. Organs
International organizations have at least one main organ to carry out the tasks of international organizations.

5. Plenary Board
The plenary body is the policy-making body for the organization. All members occupy the plenary body. The name of the plenary body is the general assembly, assembly, etc. The main function of the plenary body is to control the budget, adopt agreements, etc.

6. Executive body
The executive body is a small body consisting of a number of elected members. For example the UN security council has 5 elected members.

6. Secretariat
The Secretariat is a permanent administrative body. The main function of the secretariat is to coordinate the organization.

7. Decision-Making
International organizations establish a voting system for every decision-making. The voting system can be based on single or majority vote.

8. Membership Expulsion and Monitoring
International organizations have the option of expulsion of membership. International membership can be suspended for any reason.

9. Amendments
Agreements of international organizations can be changed in accordance with the rules and regulations.

Indonesia’s membership in international organizations

The following is a list of Indonesia’s membership in international organizations:

  1. Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) – Member since 1974
  2. Association of Secretary General of Parliaments (ASGP) – Member since 1976
  3. The Parliamentary Union of Islamic Countries (PUIC) – Member since 1999
  4. ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) – Member since 1977
  5. International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) – Member since 1956
  6. Asian Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (ASOSAI) – Member since 1979
  7. International Association of Anti Corruption Authorities (IAACA) – Member since 2006
  8. International Association of Prosecutors (IAP) – Member since 2006
  9. Attorney General’s Forum China – ASEAN – Member since 2004
  10. Center on Integrated Rural Development for the Asia and Pacific (CIRDAP) Member since 1979
  11. Sub Regional Office of the Center on Integrated Rural Development for Asia and the Pacific in Southeast Asia (SOCSEA) – Member
  12. United Nations Organization (UN) – Member since 1950
  13. Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – Member since 1967
  14. Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) – Member since 1989
  15. United Nations Development Program (UNDP) – Member since 1950
  16. International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) – Member
  17. World Customs Organization (WCO) – Member
  18. International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) – Member since 1977
  19. OPEC Fund – Contributors
  20. World Trade Organization (WTO) – Member since 1994
  21. International Textiles and Clothing Bureau (ITCB) – Member since 1984
  22. Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries (ANRPC) – Member since 1970
  23. International Pepper Community (IPC) – Member since 1977
  24. Asian and Pacific Coconut Community (APCC) – Member since 1969
  25. International Coffee Organization (ICO) – Member
  26. ASEAN Promotion Center on Trade, Investment and Tourism (APCTIT) / ASEAN – Japan Center – Member since 1981
  27. Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) – Member
  28. Global System of Trade Preferences (GSTP) – Member
  29. Animal Production and Health Commission (APHCA) for Asia and the Pacific – Member since 1977
  30. Center for Alleviation of Poverty through Secondary Crops Development in Asia and the Pacific (CAPSA) – Member since 1982
  31. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) – Member since 1949
  32. Office International des Epizooties (OIE) / World Organization for Animal Health – Member since 1954
  33. World Food Program (WFP) – Member since 2006
  34. International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) – Observer (in the process of becoming a member)
  35. FAO Representative Office in Jakarta – Member since 1980
  36. International Sugar Organization (ISO) – Observer
  37. ASEAN Animal Health Trust Fund (AHTF) – Member since 2006
  38. International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (IT-PGRFA) – Member since 2006
  39. International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) – Member since 2006

Book Recommendations & Related Articles

International Organization Books

1. Why? International Organization (International Organization)

2. Law of International Organizations


  • Cogan, Jacob Katz et al. 2016. The Oxford Handbook of International Organizations.
  • Iqbal, Sajid. 2007. An Introduction to International Organizations. Caravan Enterprises Lahore: Pakistan.
  • The Function of International Organization. University of Political Science. Accessed from: