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date: 16 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reflects on the uncertainties regarding the question of why international organizations would be bound by international law. It places these uncertainties in the broader framework of a vague and ill-defined ‘turn to accountability’. As the chapter shows, international organizations are often held to account for wrongdoing without it being clear whether they have also violated an international legal obligation resting upon them. The chapter then discusses in some detail the 1980 WHO–Egypt advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) regarding whether the WHO could close their Alexandria office and move it to Jordan. Afterwards, the chapter reviews several recent attempts to overcome the ‘basis of obligation’ problem in the law of international organizations, such as the putative constitutionalization of international law or international organizations, the adoption of accountability models, and the emergence of Global Administrative Law.

Keywords: World Health Organization (WHO), General principles of international law, Sources of international law, International Court of Justice (ICJ)

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