Excessive complexity of intergovernmental organizations

An intergovernmental organization, with its multiple international committees and international secretariat, is an organism so complex that it is difficult to penetrate beyond the superficial forms of charters and formal procedures, to the underlying realities. The formal parts often serve to conceal how the lines of influence and power really flow, and what are the interlocking effects of sources of finance, sources of political decision, rivalries between secretariats and, above all, defects in procedures for decision-making in national governments as they affect the still more defective decision-making machinery of most international organizations. This layer of concealment is all the more impenetrable in the older organizations, in which a natural evolution has taken place by way of 'interpretation' or 'bending' of their statutes in some respects, and of atrophy in others. Some organizations have in fact evolved so substantially that the substance of present reality is quite different from that envisaged by their founders and defined in their statutes: yet this transformation has taken place without any statutory amendments, by a process of deliberate or accidental evolution, with the development of new activities and procedures and the atrophy of old ones. Amongst these complexities and misleading appearances it is all but impossible for the outside non-practitioner to pick his way and to discern the realities; but it is also difficult for those within. The average secretariat member has at best a partial view of one sector of his organization, and his view is likely to be distorted by loyalty to that body, with which his own future is bound up. In fact, only the head of the organization, at the apex of the pyramid, and perhaps a few of his immediate advisers, obtain the panoramic view and are exposed to all the political and administrative realities.
Problem Type:
F: Fuzzy exceptional problems
Date of last update
01.01.2000 – 00:00 CET