‘Gatekeepers’ or ‘Gatecrashers’? Rethinking the Roles of International Institutions in Global Politics

Akinbode Fasakin


International politics as who gets what, when and how is now at its peak. Emerging powers are competing for a greater share of the world’s natural resources, while developed countries attempt to retain and wield greater influence in the international system. How these complexities interplay in the international system highlights conflicts of interests and many contradictions among states. These contradictions manifest at international institutions (especially the United Nations, UN, World Trade Organisation, WTO, World Bank and the International Monetary Fund) arenas whose creations were a product of compromise among conflicting parties. Consequently, through these international organisations (IOs) states’ interests converge or diverge. IOs have been instrumental to the consolidation of the liberal developed states supremacy in an era described as the ‘end of history’ and perceived as platforms where structural weaknesses of weak states are exposed even though weak states still attempt to push for recognition of their agenda in a world mired in a ‘clash of civilizations’. Against this background, this article interrogates how IOs consolidate and compromise as well as define the roles, power, and limitations of sovereign states for influence or mere symbolism in international politics. For instance, the paper raises questions about why the proposed on the interests surrounding the proposed reforms of the United Nations Security Council in 2005 failed due to the interests surrounding it by some states. In addition, in 1996, the WTO panel, in a case between USA and Nicaragua, determined against the US and in favour of Nicaragua, the US blatantly refused to comply and the WTO did not challenge it. Thus, the article tries to analyse the structural imbalances in the power and influence of states in international politics through IOs. How well do international institutions legitimise powerful state’s sovereignty (gatekeepers roles) and delegitimise weak states’ sovereignty (gatecrashers roles)? The paper therefore concludes that what obtains now is international politics. For it to be global, consensus building, interest free dialogue, and not impositions as the case is at the moment, is crucial and essential for the reconciliation of the differences between and among states on the floor of many international institutions; a task which is still far to seek.

International institutions are becoming more important in maintaining world order[1]

[1] See Robert O. Keohane, “International Institutions: Can Interdependence Work?” Foreign Policy Issue 110, 1998.

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