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World Trade Organization vs. International Chamber of Commerce


International agencies emerged as a response to the two world wars and due to the desire of people to address issues collectively to achieve the most optimal results. The organizations aim at solving major problems and contributing to the sustainable development of all people by bringing balance and helping countries solve certain issues (Neumayer 2005; Young 2011). These global entities were created in major spheres, such as the global economy, international relations, environmental issues, and the like. The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the leading international body regulating numerous aspects of world trade (Crowley 2003). The International Criminal Court (ICC) is also an international organization, and it concentrates on investigating and trying individuals involved in major crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide, and aggression crimes. This paper aims at exploring the effectiveness of these international agencies with a focus on specific problems they are addressing (global recession for the WTO and the situation in Libya for the ICC).

Global Recession

The Problem WTO Is to Address

To compare the two organizations mentioned above, it is important to consider the structure of the problems they seek to address. Both problems the two entities face are hard as the WTO has to address the global recession that has already started. The structure of this problem is characterized by conflict and some elements of harmony. The involved parties’ interests are often in conflict, especially when it comes to developed and developing countries. When trying to mitigate the negative effects of the global recession, the stakeholders will concentrate on their benefit and minimization of costs. Collaboration is another characteristic feature of the problem as the parties are ready to cooperate and willing to cheat (Hovi, Sprinz, and Underdal 2003). The prisoner’s dilemma is the approach associated with the global recession as well since the parties are likely to endure losses due to their focus on their interests.

The primary actors related to the global recession problems are states, but corporations play a considerable role. The power component of the problem structure is characterized by inequality as countries have different resources and access to resources (capital, natural resources, and the like) (Young 2011). When considering the knowledge element of the problem structure, the notion that trade is good and beneficial is accepted by the stakeholders. Interestingly, norms regarding global recession can be established rather well, although international organizations, including WTO, do not have the enforcement capacity. Reciprocity is the governing principle that ensures compliance with the majority of norms (Crowley 2003). Violation tolerance is quite high, but some sanctions may be imposed. Response incentive may be quick, but it is not as strict as in cases linked to security. The global recession is also associated with such instruments as quotas and tariffs, as well as subsidies, which make up the inherent transparency of the problem.

The Situation in Libya

The structure of the Problem the ICC Tries to Address

Similar to the global recession problem, the situation in Libya is characterized by conflict. The involved parties tend to fail to cooperate due to the difference of values and the focus on their national or even other interests (Simmons 2014). The major actors are states and non-governmental organizations that concentrate on human rights. As far as the capacity component of the problem structure, the country in question has limited resources. The political instability that plagued Libya during the past years, as well as the governance of Gaddafi, led to serious economic issues (International Criminal Court n.d.). The state is trying to access funds from various international organizations and developed countries, but these resources are insufficient. The problem under analysis is associated with a normative issue as the national government attempts to preserve power, which often leads to serious violations of human rights. Again, the difference between cultures and the debate regarding the balance between national values and international norms (or rather the preferences of developed states) makes normative issues almost unsolvable.

A characteristic feature of this problem is the limited power of knowledge as it is almost meaningless to the involved stakeholders. Transparency is another challenge linked to the problem under consideration as it is rather mixed. Regarding social and economic spheres, transparency is rather high, but political aspects often remain less transparent due to the government’s desire to maintain the created order and secure their power (Simmons 2014). Non-governmental organizations, however, tend to provide accurate data related to diverse aspects and spheres. The response is not immediate and often takes time due to numerous procedural peculiarities. However, it is also associated with low tolerance, especially when it comes to such crimes as genocide.

Institutional Design

Institutional Type

The structure of the problem is not the only factor influencing the effectiveness of international organizations. The design of the organization also has a significant impact on its effectiveness. First, it is important to identify the institutional type of both organizations. The WTO is an illustration of a regulatory entity that establishes standards ensuring the effective collaboration of states. Countries follow these norms, collaborate to address certain issues, and coordinate their actions to improve the situation (Crowley 2003). The ICC is a generative entity with elements of a programmatic institution. As mentioned above, the organization has certain normative issues due to the focus of governments on their national interests, values, and their own political goals. The functioning of the ICC and the attainment of its goals often depends on the capacity, which is low in Libya’s case.


Another component of the institutional design is membership. The ICC can be described as an entity with limited membership because its functioning is plagued by preferences uncertainty and enforcement issues. Koremenos, Lipson, and Snidal (2001) argue that international organizations are often used by states to promote their interests and achieve their goals. The difference of preferences and its influence on the effectiveness of the ICC can be seen as the evidence supporting this assumption. The WTO’s membership is limited to the capable states that often tend to have the most potent impact on the decisions made by the organization (Crowley 2003; Rose 2004). Membership is an important element of institutional design that has an impact on the effectiveness of an organization.

Primary Rule System

The primary ruling system of the WTO is characterized by common obligations, a wide scope, and prescriptions. As mentioned above, the organization established norms the states have to comply with, but the response is not immediate and flexible. The critics of the organization, as well as an international organization, emphasize that developed countries often utilize these mechanisms to reach their objectives, which often happens at the expense of developing countries (Koremenos, Lipson, and Snidal 2001). The primary ruling system of the ICC is similar to the WTO’s type as it is associated with a broad scope, prescriptive nature, and common obligations. This agency is also criticized due to its bias towards developing countries and the considerable influence of developed countries (AJ+ 2014). The primary rule system shows some of the major similarities between the two organizations.

Information System

It has been acknowledged that organizations with a strong information system are more effective than the ones with weak information systems. The WTO has a strong information system with limited monitoring and the use of self-reporting. The ICC also has a strong information system that is decentralized. Monitoring is often implemented, and data verification is common. The information system of both organizations can be regarded as their strengths and the factor contributing to their effective functioning.

Response System

The response systems of the entities under analysis are also similar in many respects. For instance, these systems are flexible and quite weak for both organizations. At that, the ICC is characterized by a strong response when it comes to genocide. The response of the WTO is rarely strong, but in some cases, it can be strict. The agency often sets norms but the monitoring of compliance with these regulations is limited or non-existent. This component of the institutional design is one of the weaknesses of any international organization, including the ones under consideration.


It is necessary to note that different approaches to the evaluation of international organizations; effectiveness exist. For example, liberals and neoliberals claim that these agencies contribute to the effective collaboration of nations that results in the common good (Barnett and Finnemore 1999). Realists concentrate on the ability of international organizations to stabilize forces in the world arena. However, the sociological perspective is instrumental in unveiling some weaknesses and biases related to international agencies.

The analysis of the institutional design of the international organizations in question suggests that the agencies are similar in various aspects with only some differences. Nevertheless, these differences are relevant as they impact the effectiveness of the entities. It is possible to assume that the WTO is a more effective international organization that manages to address its problem more efficiently as compared to the ICC.

The WTO has capacities to settle norms that are beneficial for all (or, at least, the majority of the) member states. The compliance with these regulations is quite high due to reciprocity. Countries attempt to pursue their national interests, but they also understand that the created rules are instrumental in achieving the balance that is necessary for world trade. Rose (2004) argues that the WTO has had quite a limited influence on global trade, but the researcher’s assumptions have proved to be based on incomplete data (Tomz, Goldstein, and Rivers 2007). The WTO influences world trade and can address such problems as the global economic recession. However, it is important to remember that developed countries tend to benefit the membership in the organization, which results in numerous disbalances (Koremenos, Lipson, and Snidal 2001). Therefore, while the WTO is likely to contribute to the effective mitigating of the adverse outcomes of the global recession, many countries will have to endure stronger effects of the economic turmoil.

The ICC can be quite effective in specific cases and addresses the established objectives efficiently. Nevertheless, in the case of Libya, the organization’s capacity is limited. One of the primary barriers to the effective management of the problem in question is the difference of cultures and values. The organization is mainly created by the countries of the developed world, which shapes its behaviors although the bureaucracy of the institution ensures considerable independence of the ICC (Koremenos, Lipson, and Snidal 2001). Nevertheless, the organization is likely to fail to address the situation in Libya effectively. The ruling elites in the African country have their interests and perspectives regarding the future of Gaddafi. They are unwilling to let the international institution interfere with this case, and the ICC has no sufficient instruments to force or encourage the state to become more collaborative.


In conclusion, it is possible to state that the WTO will address its problem more effectively compared to the ICC. The two organizations share many features in common with some relevant differences. At that, the structures of the problems they attempt to solve differ dramatically, which may be the primary reason for the outcome in managing these issues. The WTO covers more countries and has a larger impact on international trade with its effective normative capacity. The effectiveness of ICC is limited by the peculiarities of countries and their focus on national interests, values, and cultural peculiarities. Reciprocity is the major factor contributing to the effectiveness of the WTO while the ICC has limited instruments to achieve its goals. However, it is important to add that international organizations have a certain impact on the processes that take place in the global arena. They have the potential to improve their efficacy, but countries should start focusing on the benefit for all rather than their national interests.


AJ+. 2014. “What Is the International Criminal Court? “ YouTube video, 0:42. Web.

Barnett, Michael N., and Martha Finnemore. 1999. “The Politics, Power, and Pathologies of International Organizations.” International Organization, 53 (4): 699-732.

Crowley, Meredith A. 2003. “An introduction to the WTO and GATT.” Economic Perspectives, 40: 42-57.

Hovi, Jon, Detlef F. Sprinz, and Arild Underdal. 2003. “The Oslo-Potsdam Solution to Measuring Regime Effectiveness: Critique, Response, and the Road Ahead.” Global Environmental Politics, 3 (3): 74-96.

International Criminal Court. n.d. “Libya.” International Criminal Court. Web.

Koremenos, Barbara, Charles Lipson, and Duncan Snidal. 2001. “The Rational Design of International Institutions.” International Organization, 55 (4): 761-799.

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Tomz, Michael, Judith L. Goldstein, and Douglas Rivers. 2007. “Do We Really Know That the WTO Increases Trade? Comment.” The American Economic 97 (5): 2005-2018.

Young, Oran R. 2011. “Effectiveness of international environmental regimes: Existing knowledge, cutting-edge themes, and research strategies.” PNAS 108 (50): 19853-19860.

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