International Associations: Pioneering Roles in Society

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International Associations: Pioneering Roles in Society[1]

The prime goal of international associations is maintaining peace and international security as well as promotion of international economic and social development, respect for human rights for all people, and the rule of law.

But the role of international association depends on the interests of member States. States establish and develop international associations to achieve objectives that they cannot achieve on their own.

The principal functions accorded to international associations are summarized under four headings:

  1. Studies or the collection and dissemination of information;
  2. Setting internationally acceptable norms;
  3. Fostering cooperation through meetings;
  4. Engaging in technical cooperation activities.
  • Studies or the collection and dissemination of information

States give international associations a mandate to collect and disseminate information, especially statistical material, and to carry out studies, notably comparative studies, that enable the analysis of contemporary trends and the drawing of lessons.

  • Setting internationally acceptable norms

Some inter-governmental associations enjoy the privilege of setting out and nurturing international minimum standards. This is due to the inability of any government, except in a hegemonic system that it controls, of setting standards to be adhered to by other governments.

Where there is an identified need for establishing international norms in a non-hegemonic system, a large number of States have to agree on procedures and substance for such norms to become a reality. Where levels of treatment are specified, these norms cannot be more than minimum standards

  • Fostering cooperation through meetings

They organize various kinds of meetings to exchange information, to bring countries together with a view to having them cooperate or agree on a course of action to be pursued. It is a very common function of international associations.

  • Engaging in technical cooperation activities

Technical cooperation has become the most important function of international associations in the last several decades. They have inter-governmental association furnishing intellectual, financial or material aid to a country requesting it in the expectation that it might be helpful.


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