International Regimes

  • David Armstrong
Part of the The Making of the 20th Century book series (MACE)


The process of international organisation is concerned with the development by states of ways of regulating their conflicts, jointly managing for their collective benefit various specific areas of activity and, most ambitiously, planning for peaceful change towards agreed goals. Frequently this involves the creation of large, multi-purpose institutions like the League or the UN, or of structures with more limited functions, like the Postal Union. However, the essential core of international organisation is not the various administrative or judicial bodies as such but the rules, regulations and agreed procedures for which the institutions assume responsibility. In this sense the main thrust of international organisation is the development of ‘international regimes’: sets of rules which aim to regulate some specific activity of international interest. Thus defined, regimes encompass not only formal institutions but many informal, decentralised arrangements amongst states.’ Although international regimes have existed for many years, scholarly attention has only recently come to focus on the regimes as a separate analytical category from the institutional frameworks which sometimes accompany them. This increasing interest stems from three factors. Firstly, international regimes have proliferated in recent years. Secondly, they have enjoyed more success than some of the larger institutions, partly because they have invariably been founded upon an international consensus and to date allocated narrow, specific and modest objectives.


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© David Armstrong 1982

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  • David Armstrong

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