Public governance

6th Annual Meeting of International Organisations


Remarks by Angel Gurría

OECD Secretary-General 

New York, USA - 10 April 2019

(As prepared for delivery)




Dear Ambassadors, colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to welcome you to our Sixth Annual Meeting on the contribution of International Organisations (IOs) to a rules-based international system.

I would like to thank our colleagues from the International Federation of Accountants for hosting this event and the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland for their financial support to the work of the IO partnership.


The importance of a rules-based international system

The importance of creating and maintaining a rules-based international system cannot be overstated. However, many areas of our work and of the multilateral system are increasingly coming under pressure. This is paradoxical!

IO’s are being challenged at a time when international rules and global solutions are more crucial than ever. At a time when we are facing a backlash against globalisation, witnessing the erosion of trust, dealing with global challenges such as climate change, migration as well as the increasing digitalisation of our economies and societies.

Looking around the room, it is striking to see how diverse the global rule-making landscape is. Our Partnership brings together traditional inter-governmental organisations; trans-governmental networks; and private standard-setting organisations. And each of us here has a specific mandate and different areas of expertise.

And although this multi-disciplinary and diverse work can lead to greater collaboration, it can also lead to duplication, fragmentation and bureaucracy. For example, the collective production of our Partnership today represents some 70,000 legal and policy instruments. This ‘ecosystem’ is quite hard for even the best lawyers to comprehend.

We owe it to our Members and to the end users to provide them with clarity and to help address the fragmentation that often undermines the effectiveness of their efforts.


A fruitful IO Partnership

With this in mind, we have strengthened our Partnership. We have come a long way since our work began in 2014. We initially developed a cross-cutting report comparing the rule-making and governance processes of 50 IOs. We also developed seven case studies to look into more depth at rule making processes in some major IOs, such as my the OECD, as well as the WHO, FAO and the IMO.

And three more studies are currently being prepared for the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures, the World Organisation for Animal Health and the World Trade Organisation.

Perhaps most importantly, in 2016 we also renewed the commitment from some 50 IOs to continue improving the quality of international rules guided by people’s needs and concerns.


Report: ‘The Contribution of IO’s to a Rules-Based International System’

Looking forward, I am happy to be here today to launch the most recent product of our collaboration ‘The Contribution of International Organisations to a Rules-Based International System’. It is a unique attempt to survey the complex landscape of international rule-making and to put forward recommendations on how to tackle some of the challenges that we face. Let me highlight a few.

First, the need to increase stakeholder engagement. Despite its recognised importance, rarely have IOs developed a whole of organisation policy or a strategy for stakeholder engagement. Mapping our stakeholders, defining objectives and key steps to engage with them and manage risks is therefore crucial.

Second, IOs need to co-ordinate their responses in order to capitalise on their combined strengths and avoid inconsistencies. This will be key in addressing new challenges, new business models and new technologies that transcend borders.

Third, a greater transfer of expertise and evidence between national and international levels can go a long way in supporting a better understanding of the impacts of international instruments. This would also play a key role in building a better evidence base across countries and IOs to inform the future development of instruments.

And last but not least, looking ahead, we have identified five areas that deserve further action in order to promote greater quality, effectiveness and impact of international rules:

1) Understanding the diversity of international instruments and their respective benefits/challenges;

2) Strengthening the effectiveness of our instruments;

3) Ensuring efficient stakeholder engagement;

4) Developing a better culture of evaluation of IO instruments; and, 5) Maximising the opportunities for co-ordination across IOs.


Delivering on the work so far has required close dialogue among all of us. Let me congratulate the five working groups that have worked on this publication as well as their focal points.


Dear friends, ladies and gentlemen:

The world we live in today, the world we have thrived in, is very much built upon the solid foundations of an international rules-based system. As our economies and societies shift and adapt to tackle emerging global challenges, we also have to rise to the occasion and ensure our rules and standards remain resilient and can stand up to these tests.

H.E. Luccock, the Yale Professor and American Methodist Minister said: “No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.” This is what we are working on today, a symphony of international rules, which we can play, together, like an orchestra, for the benefit of mankind.

Rest assured that the OECD is here to work with and for you in the design of a better rules-based system for a better tomorrow.




See also:

OECD work on Public Governance


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