The legitimacy of intergovernmental organizations has always been viewed as secondary and weaker compared to the legitimacy of states. As a condition of the international system this in itself is not surprising: international organizations are derivated organizations, created by states, and states remain the primary actors of international politics. They are, however, constantly challenged - theoretically and practically - and their right to exist in their current form is increasingly questioned. One can easily recognize both the shortcomings and the validity of a number of criticisms leveled at international organizations.
Yet the growing sense of global integration and the unavoidable need for multilateral arrangements points to a continuing relevance for international organizations. The evolution of international affairs presents an increased need for cooperation and regulation between states on the basis of deepening interaction and pressures to collectively manage common issues. The international community also reflects a growing global ethos which speaks in favour of the need for legitimacy in international organizations, of its renewal on the basis of existing principles but also on the basis of new needs.