Proliferation and duplication of intergovernmental organizations and coordination bodies


There is widespread concern in both intergovernmental organizations and in governments at the haphazard proliferation of the former and of their activities. This concern arises from the increasing burden placed upon governments, particularly the smaller ones, by the multiplicity of intergovernmental organizations and their expanding activities; and from indications that amidst the present confusion the results achieved are neither commensurate with the effort involved, nor sufficiently productive.

In addition to the commitment of governments in financing these organizations, there exists the further burden of financing their participation, and the complex business of providing permanent or temporary missions, delegations to conferences, teams of specialists and experts to attend committees often of a highly technical nature, and of maintaining political control over all of this governmental supporting activity. In this process is involved the need to provide within the governmental machine, the machinery for briefing for all of these activities and the complex business of coordinating the activities of different departments of government. The providing of these services is an expense which, unlike direct contributions to budgets, cannot be scaled down and which thus weighs disproportionately upon the smaller governments.

However, more important for all governments than the financial burden is the difficulty of finding the necessary skilled and expert manpower (diplomatic, administrative or specialist) to perform such manifold tasks. In this respect, a majority of governments have already reached the limits of their capacity in an area where they themselves are in need of such people for their own internal purposes, and only the very largest are able to make the necessary provisions without difficulty.


An understanding of the problems which lie concealed behind the word 'cooperation', as applied to intergovernmental organizations is fundamental to any understanding of the problems which beset governments in an attempt to use a number of such bodies in an efficient manner. It is perhaps more accurate to assume that one intergovernmental organization as such cannot by its nature have any meaningful relationship with another, and to refer instead to relations between their secretariats within the limited range of the secretariats' functions and competence. Such cooperation between secretariats is certainly of value, though it is not an end in itself, but only an assistance to governments in the decision-making process. Though such cooperation is thus useful, experience shows that the results to be obtained from it are very limited.

Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
Problem Type:
E: Emanations of other problems
Date of last update
06.05.2019 – 17:49 CEST