International Regimes and Organizations
International relations encompasses the study of conﬂict and cooperation and international institutions are one of the most important mechanisms through which conﬂict and cooperation occur. Indeed, many would argue that international institutions have become important actors in international relations in their own right, transcending the sum of their parts. One only needs to look around today to see international institutions at work. For example, the United Nations (UN) is present throughout the world, from Afghanistan to Zambia, providing peacekeeping, food aid, water projects, health services and protection of children’s rights, to name only a few tasks. International institutions help govern our life. The World Trade Organization (WTO) and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) help govern our trade and economic cooperation. Institutions like the European Union (EU) and Mercusur in Latin America help bring regions together. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the African Union (AU) provide for regional security. Institutions like the Council of Europe and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) promote democracy and human rights. Most of these institutions in fact have multiple functions that are strategic, political, economic and cultural. These inter-governmental organizations often rely heavily on the work of international non-governmental organizations or INGOs such as the International Red Cross (IRC), Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders), Amnesty International and Oxfam. Together, all of these institutions create a web of cooperation and collaboration that forms the foundation of international relations.