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70 Nordic J. Int'l L. 287 (2001)
The Life and Times of the Law of International Organizations

handle is hein.journals/nordic70 and id is 297 raw text is: Nordic Journal of International Law 70: 287-317, 200 1.               287
© 2001 Kluwer Law International. Printed in the Netherlands.
The Life and Times of the Law of International Organizations
Erik Castrin Institute of International Law and Human Rights, Helsinki
Abstract. The author analyzes the development of the law of international organizations
through the case-law of the World Court and doctrinal writings, and distinguishes three stages.
In the first stage (roughly, the interbellum), the law was mainly concerned with trying to come
to terms with the new phenomenon of international organizations. In the second stage (peaking
in the 1950s and 1960s), the law was predominantly concerned with solving practical prob-
lems. In the present third stage, however, conscious attempts are being made to conceptualize
and to place organizations in a larger normative perspective. The author concludes that this is
a felicitous development.
It would seem that international organizations are becoming increasingly in-
teresting as topics for academic study, and that together with the study of
international organization (or global governance, to use a more fashionable
term), the study of the law of international organizations too is increasingly
recognized as a discipline worth engaging in. This is largely so for two rea-
sons. One is, that the rules and regulations developed by or under auspices of
international organizations are becoming increasingly visible as influencing
our daily lives. While it took us little time to realize what impact EC law
could have on domestic law, we have gradually come to the realization that
EC law is not alone in having an impact on domestic law or, in a straight-
forward way, on our daily lives. Many livelihoods may be affected by single
decisions coming out of the IMF; the protesters against the WTO meeting in
Seattle, in December 1999, realized all too well how grandiose the influence
of WTO law on each and every one of us is, directly or indirectly, actually or
potentially; our working lives will be influenced, to a greater or lesser degree,
by the activities of the ILO; and as many have found out the hard way in
Kosovo, NATO too can have a serious impact on human life.
This raises, or should raise, obvious questions as to the precise scope of
activities of particular organizations, the means by which they acquire their
powers, the transparency of their decision-making process, and the demo-
cratic and judicial control over their activities. Indeed, more generally, the

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