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States and Intergovernmental Organizations Legal Capacities Essay

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Updated: Jul 14th, 2020

The Differences in Legal Capacities of the States and the IGOs

The differences in the legal capacities of the states and the IGOs may be explained based on the following points:

  • As stated in the Reparations for Injuries Suffered in the Service of the United Nations case of 1949, the organization has “a large measure of international personality and the capacity to operate upon an international plane, although it is certainly not a Super-state” (International Court of Justice 8).
  • The legal capacity of the IGOs permits them to initiate lawsuits, organize and sign treaties, and interact with the other international actors.
  • The legal personality of IGOs is conferred by the constituting treaty meaning that the rights and duties of different IGOs are versatile and determined by their initial actions, specific functions, and narrow purposes.
  • At the same time, the rights and duties of those states as international actors are recognized as automatically equal.

In other words, comparing states as the international actors and the IGOs it is crucial to mention that even though both parties are recognized to possess an international legal personality and are rightful to interact with the other international actors, the states are considered primary actors whereas the IGOs are defined as secondary. That way, the states’ scope of legal capacities is much wider than that of an IGO since the organizations are limited by their primary functions and purposes outlined in their initial documents. As a result, engaging in actions that are not covered by the initial agreement of an organization loses the right to be represented in court on the matters concerning this scope of actions as it does not match its major sphere of activities.

Immunities of the States

As international actors, all states are recognized as equal under the principle formulated as “par in parem imperium non habet”. As a result, the domestic courts of individual states do not have a right to adjudicate on another state. This legislation falls under the rule known as the immunity from foreign courts’ jurisdiction that assumes two major points:

  • A domestic court of one state does not possess the right to adjudge a foreign state.
  • A domestic state cannot be adjudicated by a court of a foreign state.

Besides, in case if the legislation was violated and a foreign court made an attempt to adjudge a foreign state, the only appearance in the court is to be made for a purpose to refuse the unlawful jurisdiction.

Two main factors indicate a proceeding before the court against a foreign state is being instituted:

  • First of all, a foreign state is to be named as one of the parties of this particular proceeding before the court.
  • Secondly, the given proceeding affects the rights, properties, actions, or interests of a foreign state.

In a case of such proceeding, the affected foreign state is to declare its immunity before the court attempting to adjudicate it. The claim of the unlawful proceeding in effect along with the refusal of the jurisdiction by the adjudged foreign state is its only action. The affected foreign state is not to argue with the proceeding before the court, make an effort to justify itself or discuss the actions and the basis for the proceeding. The judge of such proceeding is not to decide on the case.

Works Cited

International Court of Justice. Reparations for Injuries Suffered in the Service of the United Nations. 1949. Web.

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1. IvyPanda. "States and Intergovernmental Organizations Legal Capacities." July 14, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/states-and-intergovernmental-organizations-legal-capacities/.


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IvyPanda. 2020. "States and Intergovernmental Organizations Legal Capacities." July 14, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/states-and-intergovernmental-organizations-legal-capacities/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'States and Intergovernmental Organizations Legal Capacities'. 14 July.

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