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Other special characteristics


Types of international organization: classification categories (Part #6)


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4.6.1 Commemorative organizations: Some international bodies are specifically conceived to commemorate or celebrate past or future events.

  • International Auschwitz Committee
  • World Association for Celebrating Year 2000

Others give recognition to a major worker or leader in their special field when an organization is formed to develop that or related work.

  • Howard League for Penal Reform
  • Nansen International Office for Refugees
  • Stefan Banach International Mathematical Centre for Raising Research Qualifications
  • Bernoulli Society for Mathematical Statistics and Probability
  • International Rorschach Society
  • International Gutenbers Society
  • International Grotius Foundation for the Propagation of the Law of Nations
  • Von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics
  • International Heinrich Schutz Society

4.6.2 Individual work focus: Distinct from the previous group is one in which the concern is not so much with acknowledging an early leader as with limiting attention to the collective work, approach of ideas of that leader.

  • International Margaret Morris Movement
  • International Montessori Association
  • International Gustav Mahler Society (and other composer societies)
  • International Dostoevsky Society (and other author societies)
  • Amis de Robert Schuman

An interesting variation on this is a body whose membership is restricted to former students of an individual and (more recently) to students of the original students.

  • Bockus International Society of Gastro-enterology

Another well-developed variation of this group is the religious order inspired by the work and rules of a particular individual.

  • Secular Franciscan Order
  • Dominican Laity

4.6.3 Charismatic personality focus: Organizations in this group (which are often exceptionally well-endowed financially due to the number and enthusiasm of members) are each centred on the activities of one charismatic individual. The identity of the individual may not necessarily be present in the organization name.

  • International Meditation Society (and several others such as the Maharishi European Research University centred on the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi)
  • Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity (centred on Sun Myung Moon)
  • Hubbard Association of Scientologists (and other bodies centred on L. Ron Hubbard)
  • Divine Light Mission (centred on the family members of the Mahariji-ji)

Bodies of this kind which operate internationally are a relatively recent phenomenon although their number is now increasing rapidly.

4.6.4 Special patronage: It is appropriate to mention here the group of organizations which have a special form of patronage, namely certain Catholic organizations which receive a charter from the Pope, and royal societies with Commonwealth-wide membership which receive a charter from the Crown. (These are discussed above: 4.2.4.1 Chartered bodies).

4.6.5 Individual activist: It is useful to note that a number of smaller organizations depend for the continuation of their activities on the dynamism of one individual. Whilst presenting all the characteristics of a conventional organization (and few of the charismatic variety noted above), such bodies may thus be nurtured through to non-dependence on the individual, although such a presence may be essential during the early growth stages. Clearly if the organization does not "take wing", such bodies may then be perpetuated as shells until the person ceases to animate it.

4.6.6 Alumni: There are a number of organizations of former students of international educational bodies.

  • Association of Attenders and Alumni of The Hague Academy of International Law
  • Association of Former Students of the College of Europe, Bruges
  • World Organization of Former Pupils of Catholic Education

Another small group, similar to the above, is that of organizations of winners of a particular international prize.

  • Standing Committee for Nobel Prize Winners' Congresses

4.6.7 Military unions: There is a movement among the western democracies to secure representation of the human rights of military personnel, in terms of material benefits and working conditions, through membership in trade or public employee unions. This has been explored in the case of the European armed forces by Ezra Krendle, (28) where the potential impact on NATO forces is of obvious importance.

  • European Organization of Military Associations
  • International Soldiers Movement
  • Sports Committee of Friendly Armies

4.6.8 Religious bodies: Many religious bodies use conventional organizational forms for their international activity.

  • World Methodist Council
  • World Federation of Islamic Missions
  • World Fellowship of Buddhists
  • International Federation of Mazdaznan Women

In some cases, however, the conventional terminology is replaced by a religious form, without affecting the conventional character of the organization.

  • Church of Christ, Scientist

This is only possible where there is a minimal religious hierarchy as is characteristic of some sects. A further group is created, however, when the religious hierarchy supplants any member-determined organizational structure. This is the case typified by the Roman Catholic Church with the range of papal commissions and religious orders, but also in such bodies as

  • International Society for Krishna Consciousness

4.6.9 Semi-humorous: There is a small group of organizations which have been created for fun, or at least somewhat with tongue-in-cheek.

  • Association for the Promotion of Humour in International Affairs
  • International Association of the Bald-Heads
  • International Brotherhood of Old Bastards
  • International Stop Continental Drift Society
  • Worldwide Fairplay for Frogs Committee
  • Society for Basic Irreproducible Research

This group may also be considered to include organizations of collectors of somewhat unexpected objects. Clearly this group includes organizations of little significance. However, this does raise the important questions of where the cut-off point should be located, why, in whose interest, and at whose expense.

4.6.10 Retrogressive bodies: There is a group of bodies with concerns which would tend to be considered retrogressive by most of the international community.

  • European Committee for Homage to Heroes of the SS
  • International Flat Earth Research Society
  • West European Federation of National Socialists

A variation on this group would include the organizations which might be evaluated as pseudo-scientific or, in another variant, as pseudo-religious. This would, however, raise the questions of how and why the evaluation is to be performed, and again, in whose interest and at whose expense.

4.6.11 Hyper-progressive bodies: In contrast to the previous group, there are organizations with concerns whose occurrence would tend to be considered of low-probability or only of possible significance in the long-term future.

  • Association of the World Government of the Age of Enlightenment
  • Contact International, concerned with UFOs
  • International Committee for a New Planet
  • Mondcivitan Republic
  • International Commission for the Protection of Planets against Microbes from Earth
  • Planetary Citizens
  • Psywar Society
  • World Geniocratic Government

Of special interest is the:

  • United Animal Nations (with its associated Security Council and )
  • International Court of Justice for Animal Rights

in which animal species are represented by human sponsors or sponsoring groups.

Some would argue that the various bodies promoting world government should be included here. It is interesting to note the reception accorded the International Astronautical Federation when it was founded in 1950. One inter-governmental agency rated such a preoccupation as the domain of "lunatics" (The editors of the Yearbook of International Organizations at that time were also forced to reassess their own policies on such cases.) On the other hand, in November 1977, the Special Political Committee of the UN General Assembly devoted considerable time to a formal debate on UFOs.

4.6.12 Shipping conferences: These are groups of shipping lines operating on usually well-defined routes, with basic agreements to charge uniform rates. The word "conference" denotes no single system but is a generic term covering a wide range of common services and common obligations undertaken by shipowners serving particular routes. Broadly speaking, the term denotes a meeting of lines serving any particular route, aimed at agreement on uniform and stable rates of freight and the provision of services, under stated working conditions in the trade. A conference ranges from a very informal association to a well developed organization with a permanent secretariat behind it. In 1965 there were about 360 conferences operating in the various trade routes of the world. (29) Their manner of operation is of concern in terms of its potential for exploitation and unfair competition. (30)

4.6.13 Cartels: It is also appropriate to make special mention of cartels (of which shipping conferences may be one variety). These may take the form of import cartels, export cartels and agreements on standards. They may only involve private corporations or may have the implicit or explicit support of government, or some direct form of government participation. (31)


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