UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Intervention by international organizations in regime complexes Margulis, Matias


This article identifies the existence of a previously unknown but important type of self-directed political behavior by International Organizations (IOs) that I term intervention. Intervention occurs when an IO secretariat acts with the intention of altering an anticipated decision at a partially-overlapping IO in a regime complex. Intervention is a distinct type of behavior by IOs that differs from either bureaucratic competition among IOs for mandates, resources and policy influence, or cooperation to achieve joint regulatory goals and enhance performance. I probe the plausibility of intervention through an analysis of three illustrative case studies in the regime complex for food security showing self-directed political actions by the secretariats of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Food Programme (WFP) and Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) directed at altering decision-making by states at the World Trade Organization (WTO). I identify three distinct intervention strategies – mobilizing states, public shaming and invoking alternative legal frameworks – in which IOs utilize their material, ideational and symbolic capabilities to influence decision-making not within their own institutions, but at other, overlapping organizations in a regime complex over which they have no direct control.

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Attribution 4.0 International