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4 Sri Lanka J. Int'l L. 79 (1992)
The Legal Personality of International Organizations

handle is hein.journals/sljinl4 and id is 87 raw text is: THE LEGAL PERSONALITY OF
by Dr. P.R. Menon
International law of the previous centuries was to a large extent of a formal
character. It was mainly concerned with the delimitation ofjurisdiction of States.
International organizations, as we know them today, were not existing. The
individual played only an inconspicuous part because the international relations
of the individual and his contacts across the frontier, if they ever existed, were
Until recently, the subjects of international law were exclusively independent
States and their numerical strength was comparatively small. The principal
purpose of international law was coexistence, that is to keep the States peacefully
apart. Its scope of activities was so designed as to restrain and restrict'State action
emphasizing rights and duties of one State to another. Relationships with other
States were mostly bilateral in nature and involved only limited aspects of
international law such as peace, alliance, navigation and national boundaries.
During the last few decades especially after the establishment of the United
Nations, profound changes have taken place in the scope and content of inter-
national law. One of the most important changes is the massive horizontal
expansion of the international society composed of nation States due to the
sweeping wave of the decolonization process.' Another major development is
the phenomenal growth of international organizations as permanent institutions
for the cooperation of States.2 A third important change is in the subject matter
of international law which is at present becoming actively concerned with
various vital topics affecting the promotion of human welfare rather than the
mere prevention of national warfare.3
What is meant by the term subject of international law? According to
text-book writers, a subject of international law is an entity capable of possessing
international rights and duties and endowed with the capacity to take legal action
in the international plane. Such an entity is commonly referred to as international
legal person or having legal personality.
Legal personality is an acknowledgement that an entity is capable of exercis-
ing certain rights and being subject to certain duties on its own account under a

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