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American Society of International Law Proceedings




Three comments, on the program of this Annual Meeting. We have answered the theme question in various ways, and we have done some things less well, others better. The focus of a political scientist differs from that of an international lawyer, dealing more with process than with outcome. We have taken a relatively simplistic look at outcomes-that is, we have often looked at whether international institutions have done what they said they were going to do; we have not looked nearly so much at whether they fixed the problems they were trying to fix. The second point that emerges very clearly is that there is indeed a multiplicity of institutions, which causes various problems for nongovernmental as well as for governmental institutions. There is multiplicity without a clear hierarchy; therefore, coordination problems arise. We did not address these coordination problems very well, nor did we address the fact that many states are terribly overburdened by the multiplicity of institutions. The average number of memberships in international institutions for a state is now sixty. Very few countries are capable of managing memberships in sixty organizations. That weakens the policy-making mechanisms of international institutions, and we have not thought through how that may be corrected. Thirdly, we addressed in some ways the issue of institutional change-most clearly in our discussions of the crisis between the United States and the United Nations. In one way, it is a crisis about legal obligations. It is also, though, a crisis about how institutions change--and how we make decisions about how they change. It should not surprise us, looking at domestic institutions, that the process is quite messy. We did not address particularly how that process might be improved and strengthened. That is the key issue we must face as we think about making international institutions more effective and more accountable.

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Cambridge University Press

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