International law can be defined as an establishment with high capability of owning International rights and duties. It possesses the capacity to protect the rights by implementing international ownerships. They are made in accordance with the rules and regulations and possesses international personality. They indicate the existence of all the legal personalities.

It is accepted in a large manner and the states which are identified and are independent enjoy unlimited legal personality. Four requirements have been made for statehood i.e. a population which is permanent, a territory, government, and having the capacity to make relations with other states.
Recognising a state fully is a very important factor that will indicate the existence of the legal personality. It looks like that almost every state like entity can be classified as the subjects of international law.

In case where there is extension of states, a new one coming into existence in its place would either continue as a personality or will acquire a new one. The central government in case of the federal states, is responsible for conducting the international relation in the world.

One of the promising developments that has happened in the twentieth century in inter-state relations has been the proliferation of international law.
Turkin has defined international organisation as an alliance of states which is established on the support of a treaty in an arrangement with international law in order to achieve specific objectives.

The above definitions specify the following elements:

1- International organisations are the association of the states. Sometimes they are also recognised as the inter-governmental organisations (IGO’s). The United nations is an example of such organisations. There is another category of international organisations which are called as non- governmental organisations (NGO’s). These are the private international associations which consist of private groups, religion groups, scientific cultures ets. There is no direct involvement of the government.

2- International organisations are basically made by the treaties which are the essential instrument and characters of the international organisations.

3- International organisations are established for the important and some specific purposes. The purpose of such organisations is important to establish some sort of legitimacy.

4- International organisations are made in accordance with the rules and regulations of the international law.

5- International organisations possess international personality by virtue of having distinct rights and duties.


International organisations can be explained in different ways. For example they can be divided in accordance with the intended duration i.e. provisional or permanent organisations or in accordance to the nature of their power. After considering all the factors above, the basis of membership and purpose of international organisations may be divided into the following categories:

1- GENERAL MEMBERSHIP AND GENERAL PURPOSE ORGANISATIONS: These organisations are global in scope and are open to all the states. They hold the whole range of activities of the international community: political, economic, social, cultural and political. They provide a variety of functions such as peace and security, socio-economic corporation, protecting human rights etc.

2- GENERAL MEMBERSHIP AND LIMITED PURPOSE ORGANISATIONS: These organisations are the functional organisations. These are concerned with a particular function and are open to all the states of the international community.

3- LIMITED-MEMBERSHIP AND GENERAL PURPOSE ORGANISATIONS: These organisations are open to the states of a specific region and they are known as the regional organisations. They are made for the large part of security, politics matters , socio-economic functions and responsibilities.

4- LIMITED MEMBERSHIP AND LIMITED PURPOSE ORGANISATIONS: Such organisation is open in a particular region of a state which is made to perform specific or limited functions.

The international organisations combine those principles and norms which regulate the establishments , legal status and activities of the intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations.


The ascription of international personality to an organisation bequeath it with a separate entity. Whether international organisations possess international personality is decided in accordance with the provisions of the constitutions of the international organisations. As such, the question as to whether international organisations possess any legal personality could have been answered expressly.

In the absence of any constitution, at present, the primary test for recognising an entity as a legal person is functional. In compensation for the harm endured in the United nations. the international court of justice was asked for an advisory opinion on the capacity of the united nations, as an organisation, to bring an international claim in respect of an injury to its personnel. The court observed that:

‘ The organisation was meant to perform and enjoy, and is in fact performing and enjoying, functions and rights that can be explained on the grounds of the amount of a large measure of the international personality’.

Accordingly the court came up with a conclusion that the organisation is the international person. It is a subject of international law and is capable of possessing international rights and duties. It has the capacity to maintain its rights by bringing international claims. Further in the advisory opinion requested by the world health organisation on the legality of the threat in the international court of justice, it was stated that the international organisation is the subject of the international law which does not possess widespread capability . International organisations are conducted on the basis of having strong points.

Many other important institutions including the agencies which are specialised proclaim their personality in constitutions or assert capacity in the law for controlling actions.

The number of international governmental organisations are growing rapidly since world war two. These bodies are made by the states and are provided with certain rules and regulations to realise their common goals. It has been ruled by the international court of justice.

Legal personality can be acquired by some insurgent groups which have been given the recognition of quarrelsome by the states they are fighting against which results in the conflicts.

Further European Economic Community, a regional organisation provides article 210 that community shall have the legal personality.

In Maclaine Watson v. Department of trade and industry it was observed that there can be no uncertainty that European economic was having legal personality in international law…there is no uncertainty that the European economic community carries out the powers and functions which are comparable to those of sovereign states.

The council of Europe recognises that international non-governmental organisations carry out work of values to the international community. Therefore it makes rules which lay down the conditions for the recognition of the Legal Personalities of these organisations.
The legal capacity of international organisations derives from instituting treaties and from general international law. The former are given for in the constitutions of the organisations.

It is desirable that the municipal legislation of the members provides for the personalities of the organisations to secure effective legal recognition of this capacity for municipal purposes.

A territory does not have to be defied accordingly.

Thus, the system is made for the subjects to enjoy legal personalities to a greater or in less extent. It looks like that almost every state which is an entity can be defined as the subjects of international law. Thus international organisations possess legal or international personality by virtue of having distinct rights and duties conferred by them.

Author: Shivam Sharma,
Delhi Metropolitan Education , GGSIPU. Law 3rd year

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