Abstract

Inter-governmental organizations (IGOs) engage with other regimes, particularly in climate change, where an increasing number of IGOs participate in the annual negotiations. None of the three dominant explanations for this behavior—statist, substantive issue linkage, and resource-dependency theory—adequately accounts for variation in the nature of IGO engagement. This article proposes that variation is best captured by organizational type. Normative organizations have a legal mandate to supervise a body of international law, are strongly wedded to their core mandate, and are less likely to engage with new issues. Functional organizations are project-oriented, seek to maximize resources, and are more likely to engage with new issues. A comparative case study of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) illustrates how organization type explains variation in their rhetoric, structure, and policy. UNHCR, a normative organization, was more reluctant than IOM, a functional organization, to engage with climate change displacement and migration debates. This article calls for international relations scholars to investigate how differences in IGO design lead to differences in organizational behavior.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1536-0091
Print ISSN
1526-3800
Pages
pp. 79-97
Launched on MUSE
2015-05-08
Open Access
No
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