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Identifying, Counting and Categorizing Intergovernmental Organization

Paper prepared for the National Intelligence Council project conference on "The Evolution of the Nation-State through 2015"
Center for International and Security Studies, University of Maryland, 18 April 2000

Basic data on intergovernmental organizations
Classification by subject
Classification of intergovernmental organizations by formal dimensions
Clustering dimensions
Inter-organizational relationships and links
Conclusions on the capacity, legitimacy and cohesion of the nation-state in 2015

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This paper takes the approach that there is a long history of initiatives in responding to its theme, many of them based on data collected in the UIA's Yearbook of International Organizations (see Tables referenced below). However many of these have been carried out in periods when the nature of what existed as "intergovernmental organization" was considered relatively unambiguous and clearly defined. It is indeed useful to see a core group of relatively static and permanent bodies in this light. But with the rapid complexification and increasingly fluid, dynamic of the global, electronically-enhanced society that is foreseen for the 21st century, it is valuable to look at more comprehensive ways of categorizing the features of what amounts to an ecosystem of international organizations. This is particularly useful in order to be able to explore more precisely the nature of the interlinkages with other transnational bodies and networks, especially when this leads to hybridization of form and function across classical categories.

There is obviously an interdependence between "categorizing" and "identifying" that clarifies the subsequent challenge of "counting". The empirical approach taken in gathering information for the databases of the Yearbook of International Organizations leads to the detection of forms of "intergovernmental organization" that do not necessarily fit well within simpler category schemes -- although such needs must be respected. The degree of misfit may well raise interesting questions about the nature of what is being identified, the categories used, and what may well escape such detection for whatever reason.

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