International Administrative Unions

International Administrative Unions term used until the middle of the 20th century for special-purpose governmental associations set up in the second half of the 19th century.


Nature and Purposes:


Many states have associated themselves together to form what has been styled public international unions, or more specifically international administrative unions, for the promotion, administration, or supervision of certain common interests (largely non-political) which in the course of the development of international society have ceased to be local or national.


Unlike the other types of unions described above, they are formed not for the general purpose of government or defense purposes but rather for the regulation or care of articular interests or services. Unlike federal unions, they are always formed by treaty international agreements among the parties. They are, therefore, purely international and not constitutional creations.


Examples and Types of Such Unidns:


As a result of the increasing interdependence among the different states of the world and consequently the necessity of organized cooperation among them for the better advancement of their common economic and other interests, such unions have greatly multiplied in recent years, so that actually there are more than thirty of them in exiétence today.


The agency through which each union acts is usually an international office, bureau, commission, committee, conference, or congress established in pursuance of the treaty or convention creating the union, and having its seat usually at Geneva, Bern, Brussels, Paris, or Rome.


The various unions may be grouped into classes either based on the nature of the particular interests that they were designed to promote or based on the form and powers of the central organs through which they function. Some of them deal with international communication and transportation, such as the Universal Postal Union, the telegraphic union, the radiotelegraphy union, the European unions for railway freight transportation, arid for the standardization of railways, etc.


Some are concerned with other more distinctly economic and industrial interests, such as the International Metric Union, the unions for the protection of literary, artistic, and industrial property, the International Institute of Agriculture, the international union for the publication of customs tariffs, the International Sugar Union and the International Labor Office of the League of Nations.


Others are concerned with public health matters, such as the International Sanitary Union and the International of Public Health. Others still were created to promote various interests relative to police, penology, the suppression of crime and vice, etc.,


Such as the union for the regulation of the traffic in liquor in Africa, the International Opium Commission, the unions for the suppression of the slave trade, the white slave truth, and the circulation of obscene publications Others still were formed to promote common, scientific interests, such as the International Geodetic Union, the Council for the Exploration of the Sea, the International Seismo, logical Union, the Union for the Standardization of Electrical units, the Pan-American Scientific Congress, etc.


Also, where are various, other Unions for, the advancement of common interests of one kind or another, among which may be mentioned the Interparliamentary? Union, the Pan-American Union, etc. The number of states which are members of these unions varies. Like the Universal Postal Union, some of them embrace practically all the civilized states of the world. In contrast, others are confined to a particular continent, such as the several European unions and the Pan-American Union.




So far as the nature and powers of their organs are concerned, there is little uniformity. As has been said, most of them maintain a bureau, office, or commission in some European city, each with a permanent staff of employees. Most of them have a general assembly, sometimes called a conference, sometimes a congress, which meets periodically or upon the parties’ call, and at which a delegate or delegates represent each signatory party.


The permanent offices or bureaus are largely clearinghouses for collecting and distributing information, but some have limited administration powers.


The conferences or congresses are mainly bodies for discussion and mutual exchange of opinion. They prepare regulations and sometimes drafts of conventions for the consideration of the member states. None of them have the power to make regulations or enact legislation is binding upon the signatory governments.


The expense for the maintenance of the international bureaus and other bodies with their staff of employees is, with some exceptions, borne by the signatory governments based on apportionment usually provided for in the convention creating them.




These various unions were created to meet a situation resulting from the increasing interdependence and unity of interests among the world’s different states. The results achieved have varied. A few have accomplished little or nothing, occasionally dissatisfied members have withdrawn from them, but others, like the Postal Union, have performed services of inestimable value to the entire world. The principal reason why the results have, in some cases, been disappointing is to be found in the minimal power of decision and action which was conferred upon their organs.


Whatever the degree of success achieved, they represent interesting experiments in international cooperation. The wealth of experience they furnish will be of distinct value in the further evolution of the world in the direction of a more thoroughgoing, all-embracing federation of humanity.


The founders of the League of Nations recognized the usefulness of the administrative unions and to coordinate their work and to bring them under the high patronage of the League, the Covenant (Art. 24) provided that all existing bureaus should, if the parties consented, be placed under the direction of the League and that all bureaus and commissions established in the future for the advancement of common international interests: should similarly be placed under its direction.










SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and International Relations in addition to a Master's degree in International Security Studies. Alongside this, I have a passion for web development. During my studies, I acquired a strong understanding of fundamental political concepts and theories in international relations, security studies, and strategic studies.

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