chapter  8
International organizations and the idea of equality
ByAndrew Hurrell, Nicholas Lees
Pages 13

Ideas about equality have long been central to the creation, functioning and infl uence of international organizations. On the one hand, international organizations have been crucial sites for the elaboration and diffusion of extraordinarily powerful sets of ideas connected, directly or indirectly, with notions of equality. Ideas about national self-determination, racial equality, democracy and human rights have, quite literally, changed the face of global politics. International organizations have played a central role in that process and are of crucial importance to weaker actors. They can provide important platforms for infl uence to the degree that they constrain the powerful through established rules and procedures, and they open up ‘voice opportunities’ that allow relatively weak states to make known their interests and to bid for political support in the broader marketplace of ideas. They also provide weaker states with political space to build new coalitions in order to try and affect emerging norms in ways that are congruent with their interests and to counter-balance or at least defl ect the preferences and policies of the most powerful.