Regulatory policy

International governance and rule-making practices: Evidence from 50 international organisations


The OECD has gathered unique evidence from 50 international organisations on their governance, operational modalities, rule-making practices and approaches to assessing implementation and impacts, presented in the report International Regulatory Co-operation: the Role of International Organisations in Fostering Better Rules of Globalisation (launched 2 November 2016)This comparative analysis takes into account the diversity of mandates, expertise and strengths of 50 participating IOs.


There is a wide diversity of international organisations involved in global standard-setting. To reflect this reality, the OECD report describes the practice not only of traditional inter-governmental organisations, but also of other forms of international organisations with rule-making / standard-setting activities, including trans-governmental networks of regulators (TGNs), international private standard-setting organisations, secretariats of international conventions, and one supra-national organisation (Figure 1). 


Figure 1. The nature of respondents to the OECD Survey of IOs (50 respondents)IO Figure 1.2

SourceOECD Survey of International Organisations, 2015, Figure 1.2.

The data highlights a number of strong common features shared by most organisations: the pursuit of consensus in decision-making; the extension of traditional membership to new geographic zones and non-governmental actors; and, to some extent, the roles of the secretariat. They also share a number of practices and disciplines in their rule-making activity.


The 50 IOs are very active in the upstream phases of international policy development, i.e. in exchange of information, data collection, research and policy analysis, discussion of good regulatory practices, and in the development of legal and policy instruments and standards. They are much less active with regards to the downstream activities of enforcement of international policies, dispute settlement, and crisis management (Figure 2).


Figure 2. Which of the following IRC processes take place within your orgapnisation? (50 respondents)

IO Figure 2.2

Source: OECD Survey of International Organisations, 2015, Figure 2.2‌.

IOs develop a broad range of instruments from legally binding treaties and decisions to softer tools such as guidance, recommendations, declarations and standards (Figure 3). 


Figure 3. What types of legal or policy instruments does your organisation adopt to embody understandings on IRC? (50 respondents)

IO Figure 3.7


Note: The figure does not consider the treaties or conventions establishing the IOs as a product of the IOs. For this reason, the number of IOs that adopt treaties for ratification by states does not include BRS Conventions, CITES, COMESA, OIE, OIML, OIV, OPCW and UNIDO, although they are tasked with managing their own funding treaty/convention.

SourceOECD Survey of International Organisations, 2015, Figure 3.7‌.

International organisations are showing greater transparency and increasingly reaching out to stakeholders. However, they make limited use of evaluation tools (Figure 4).


Figure 4. How frequently does your organisation employ the following procedures to ensure the quality of its standard-setting activities? (50 respondents)

IO Figure 4

Source: OECD Survey of International Organisations, 2015.


Related Documents