For best experience please turn on javascript and use a modern browser!

The Coming of Age of International Organizations

The project explores the view that the political and legal appraisal of international organizations has passed through different stages : A functional stage of IOs’ rise in the mid-nineteenth century (which denotes a view of organizations as vehicles for the activities of states); institutional in the mid-twentieth century predominantly (which refers to a vision of organizations as systems, with a coherent body of rules and a degree of autonomy vis-à-vis the member states, the external aspect of which is traditionally discussed in terms of ‘international legal personality’); and constitutional, especially since the turn of the Millennium (which presents IOs as a system not only because of the coherence of internal rules and component elements, but also because of the incorporation of substantive norms, notably ‘fundamental values’ linked to human rights or theories of justice).

Arguably, it is with this newly acquired constitutional identity that international organizations have come of age and can participate as mature legal actors in international affairs. At the same time, in today’s IOs elements of both the functional and institutional stages persist. Within this broader view, the project aims to look especially at the IO as a global actor and as a norm-creator.

Output (Selection)

  • ‘Legal Personality As a Fundamental Concept for International Law’ in: J d’Aspremont & S Singh (eds), Concepts for International Law ‐ Contributions to Disciplinary Thought (London, E Elgar, 2018) (with Janne Nijman)
  • ‘Member States and International Legal Responsibility: Developments of the Institutional Veil’ 12 International Organizations Law Review 2015,

Output in progress

  • ‘International organizations as willfull subjects of international law’ (Paper/chapter about the (contested) role of international organizations in the creation of customary international law (2018)).
  • Article on the ‘rule of law’ standard as used and developed in the United Nations (2019).


Since 2015


Catherine Brölmann

Partners, specifically in OXIO

  • Jean d’Aspremont (Sciences Po-Paris, and University of Manchester)
  • Iain Scobbie (University of Manchester)
mr. dr. C.M. (Catherine) Brölmann

Associate Professor