The Historical Development of International Organisations with Separate Legal Personality Since the 19th Century

Authors Michelle Frances Diers

ISSN: 2521-2583
Affiliations: University of Pretoria
Source: South African Yearbook of International Law, 2018, p. 47 – 70


An examination of the development of the separate legal personality of international organisations since the 19th century demonstrates that international organisations do in fact exist as separate legal entities that operate independently from the states that establish them. Notably, when an international organisation is established, it is the founding members of these organisations who determine whether the organisation will possess separate legal personality or not. Such personality may be granted either expressly or by implication. Consequent to the existence of the separate legal personality of international organisations, these entities may possess rights and duties under international law. It is therefore clear that these organisations may be held responsible for the breach of a primary obligation that arises pursuant to the conduct of the organisation in question.