IILJ Working Paper 2016/4 (Global Administrative Law Series)

International Organizations and the Rule of Law

José E. Alvarez

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In the wake of numerous examples of malfeasance by international organizations, including by those of the UN system, there is widespread agreement that such institutions, commonly engaged in promoting the rule of law, need themselves to be “accountable” under the rule of law. This essay canvasses and critiques common prescriptions for achieving IO responsibility under the rule of law, emphasizing the need to avoid mistaken transcriptions of the national rule of law. It argues that holding IOs, such as the UN Security Council, to rule of law standards requires making more circumspect national law analogies.  Insisting on perfecting the international rule of law by drawing on the national rule of law may not produce the progressive results intended.