The Independence of International Organizations: Concept and applications

Yoram Z. Haftel, Alexander Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

175 Scopus citations


Despite its widespread use in studies of domestic political institutions, the concept of “independence” has not been systematically applied to the study of international institutions. Most arguments regarding the ability of international organizations (IOs) to promote cooperation and mitigate conflict rely on the implicit assumption that such institutions possess some independence from states, and yet the field has failed to conceptualize—let alone measure—this institutional characteristic. Extracting insights from the theoretical literatures on both international and domestic institutions, the authors distill several design features that lend independence to political institutions and then generate coding rules for measuring the independence of IOs. Based on an original data set of regional integration arrangements, the authors then use regression analysis to test several propositions for explaining variation in IO independence, shedding light on some important theoretical and empirical puzzles in international relations.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)253-275
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Conflict Resolution
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • independence
  • institutional design
  • international organizations
  • regional integration


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