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.


Both in finance and in qualified manpower, the rapid and uncontrolled growth of intergovernmental organizations tends to widen, rather than to narrow, the gap between the performance of the larger and the smaller governments, and the latter tend to be less and less able to participate effectively in intergovernmental work. This is precisely the opposite of what ought to be the case; multilateral organization ought to be one of the means by which smaller governments can increase their participation in the life of the international community; the present situation makes it increasingly difficult for them to do this, while it leaves the largest governments little affected.

Counter Claim:

True 'duplication' of the kind for which no excuse could be found, that is to say two organizations being engaged in carrying out precisely similar projects in identical groups with identical objectives, is so rare as to be almost unheard-of. The same subject matter may be dealt with in one organization from a legal standpoint, in another from a financial one and in a third from a technical one, and the boundaries of these activities will inevitably overlap and will be difficult to define. Alternatively it may be alleged that whereas organization 'A' is dealing with many member states with widely varying interests and therefore in rather general terms, organization 'B', with a much smaller and more homogeneous group of Member States, is studying it in depth. All of these differentiating factors may be perfectly valid.

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