Global Governance Centre
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Alternative Approaches to International Organizations in International Law: Potentials, Complexities and Pitfalls

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Auditorium Ivan Pictet A1/A2 , and Room S5

October 14 – 9:00 to 18:00

October 15 – 9:00 to 18:00

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As International Organizations (IOs) tend to work in practice, few international lawyers have paid much thought to how they work in theory. As Klabbers and Sinclair noted recently, international organization law “is one of those fields of international law where the theorization by lawyers has been kept to a minimum”. As an example, functionalism -the main theoretical approach produced by international lawyers- which unsurprisingly “has been developed by practitioners, responding to practical challenges, often in piecemeal fashion and through mimicry or comparison”. Our neighboring disciplines, however, have been much more attentive to the theorization of these institutions. In the last three decades, scholars have increasingly applied the tools of international relations (IR), history, or ethnography -inter alia- to rethink the role of IOs in global governance.

With the generous support of the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Global Governance Centre & International Law Department at the Graduate Institute, Geneva (IHEID), our international conference aims to open up the space for multidisciplinary discussions on potentials of non-doctrinal approaches to the study of IOs in international law. The main premise of the event is that ‘alternative’ approaches could not only shed light on the unexplored nature and functioning of international organizations in international law but are also integral to a thorough understanding of rules and legal regimes in international law. The term ‘alternative approaches’ includes both interdisciplinary methods and the application of critical approaches developed within international law to international organizations.  We aim to capture both diverse ‘subjects of enquiry,’ as well as how different disciplines study the same subject differently.



Negar Mansouri, Ph.D. Candidate in International Law, Graduate Institute.

Daniel Ricardo Quiroga-Villamarín, Ph.D. Candidate in International Law, Graduate Institute.

With the support of Professor Nico Krisch, the Global Governance Center, and the International
Law Department, Graduate Institute.


Conference funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).

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Organized in collaboration with the International Law Department

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PLEASE NOTE: Access to indoor public events is limited to attendees with a Swiss or European COVID certificate. In addition, face masks must be worn to all in-person events at the Graduate Institute.

Please also note that Friday morning, the room is limited to 45 people so seats will be available on a first come, first served basis.

Final Conference Program: Alternative Approaches to International Organizations in International Law

This is a hybrid event. Please register below to attend the event online or in person.


Register for Day 1

Register for Day 2