Some international agreements create international organizations, which are institutions that set rules for nations and provide venues for diplomacy. There are two types of international organizations: international governmental organizations (IGOs) and international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs or, more commonly, NGOs). In recent years, multinational corporations (MNCs) have also had a significant impact on the international system.
IGOs and NGOs exist for a variety of reasons, such as controlling the proliferation of conventional and nuclear weapons, supervising trade, maintaining military alliances, ending world hunger, and fostering the spread of democracy and peace.
Members as of 2006
|Amnesty International||NGO||1961||1.8 million members in 150 countries|
|European Union (EU)||IGO||1992||25 states, including the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Estonia|
|International Olympic Committee (IOC)||NGO||1894||115 individuals, who represent the IOC in their home countries|
|Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)||IGO||1960||11 states, including Venezuela, Qatar, and Indonesia|
|Salvation Army||NGO||1878||Runs programs in more than 100 countries; has 3.5 million volunteers|
|Save the Children||NGO||1932||Helps children in poverty around the world, including the United States and Nepal|
|United Nations (UN)||IGO||1946||191 states, including Burkina Faso, Denmark, the United States, and Jamaica|
|World Bank||IGO||1945||Offers loans to more than 100 states, including Cameroon and Senegal|
IGOs form when governments make an agreement or band together. Only governments belong to IGOs, which are sometimes also known by the acronym IO (for international organization). The United Nations (UN), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the European Union (EU) are all examples of IGOs.
Unlike governmental organizations, NGOs are made up of individuals, not businesses or governments. NGOs serve a variety of functions and represent numerous interests. Organizations that are not affiliated with governments but that nevertheless play an important role in international politics are called nongovernmental actors. Not all NGOs have a positive impact on global politics. Although Amnesty International has helped defend human rights, for example, the international terrorist organization al Qaeda has killed civilians in an effort to cripple economies and topple governments. Since the end of World War II, nongovernmental actors have become more important in the global arena.
MNCs, or businesses that operate in more than one country, are another type of nongovernmental actor in the international system. Although MNCs are nongovernmental actors, they are not NGOs: As businesses, MNCs cannot be considered NGOs. Their primary aim is to make money. In the twenty-first century, MNCs dominate the global economy: According to the Coca-Cola corporation, for example, more than 70 million Coke products are consumed daily in Africa.
Example: Some MNCs—such as Coca-Cola, Microsoft, and IBM, to name a few—are worth more than many small countries, which means that they have the power to be major players in international politics. In 2000, for instance, the Central Intelligence Agency declassified several documents that incriminated ITT, the International Telephone and Telegraph Company, of having funded rebels to topple the government of Chile and establish a new, more business-friendly government in the early 1970s.