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Multilateral Institutions




Admission Requirements

Similarly tagged 200-level courses. Students that do not meet this prerequisite should contact the instructor regarding the required competencies before course allocation.


This course revisits the main schools of thought in international relations, such as realism, institutionalism, constructivism and “world-system” approaches. It will then explore the operation, institutional framework and role of specific international organizations in contemporary world politics (globalization, regionalism, co-operation, peace and security). Specific attention will be devoted to the study of the United Nations and the role of established and more recently formed regional organizations on different continents. The course will analyze questions such as: why do states (and other actors) create international organizations in pursuit of their interests? How do international organizations constrain or enable the behavior of states and other actors in the international arena? When are international organizations effective in achieving their goals? Are they accountable?

Course Objectives

  • Understand the complexity of the theoretical approaches on international organizations

  • Understand the different roles of international organizations on peace, security and development

  • Distinguish between different forms of multilateral organizations

  • Apply disciplinary ideas on peace, security and development in a specific region

  • Find, evaluate and critically read relevant academic literature and other information

  • Report on findings orally and in writing using the appropriate formats

Mode of Instruction

The course is divided into a weekly one-hour plenary lecture followed with one hour discussion on Wednesday and a two hour seminar on Friday.

The plenary lectures discuss the concept of multilateral institutions from various perspectives and disciplines and introduces the methodology to research within a given discipline. For the topic of each lecture, please see the weekly overview.

Active participation in class discussions is required. Students will come to all class meetings prepared to discuss the reading, analyze current events in light of the reading, ask interesting questions, and answer questions from the instructor or other students. Students will be asked to participate in discussions on the course Blackboard site. Three questions must be submitted online (via Blackboard) every Tuesday on the readings and/or on issues that relate to contemporary international organizations.

Each week a study group is required to give a presentation of maximum 45 minutes in which they apply all the Research Questions of the preceding Wednesday lecture. Alternatively, we encourage students to design the presentations in a form of Mini-Simulations about, for example, the Six Party Talks (North Korea, etc), Palestine’s membership in the UN, the impact of EULEX in Kosovo, the international organizations’ responsibility to intervene in Syria or reaching a solution to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It would illustrate clearly the ways in which international negotiations operate simultaneously on a number of levels, as well as the complexity of reaching an international agreement. We expect the students to present their country or institutional positions (posting materials on Blackboard a day earlier) and have constructive negotiations with different country/institutional positions, possibly reaching a consensus for a press brief.


Assessment: In-class participation and Blackboard Questions
Percentage: 20%
Deadline: Ongoing Weeks 1 – 7

Assessment: Presentation or Mini Simulation (3000 words)
Percentage: 40%
Deadline: Ongoing Weeks 1 – 7

Assessment: Take-home essay (3000 words)
Percentage: 40%
Deadline: Week 8 1st June 12:00 am

A student manual denoting weekly readings will be posted on blackboard the week before the start of the block. Additional information (PowerPoint presentations, useful websites, etc…) will also be found on blackboard over the course of the semester.


Compulsory Literature:

Recommended Literature:

  • Models, Numbers, and Cases: Methods for Studying International Relations by Sprinz and Wolinsky-Nahmias.

  • Karns and Mingst, International Organizations: The Politics and Processes of Global Governance. Rienner, 2004.

  • Diehl, Politics of Global Governance (Third Edition). Rienner, 2005.

A student manual denoting weekly readings will be posted on blackboard the week before the start of the semester.

Contact Information

Course Convenor: Arlinda Rrustemi
Email Convenor: a.rrustemi@cdh.leidenuniv.nl:mailto:a.rrustemi@cdh.leidenuniv.nl

Instructor/Seminar Leaders: Prof. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
Email Instructor: j.g.de.hoop.scheffer@cdh.leidenuniv.nl:mailto: j.g.de.hoop.scheffer@cdh.leidenuniv.nl

Weekly Overview

WEEK 1 Conceptual Issues in International Cooperation
WEEK 2 Impact and Functioning of IOs
WEEK 3 Global Political Economy
WEEK 4 Regional Organizations
WEEK 5 Regional Organizations cont.
WEEK 6 Africa, The Americas, Asia and The Middle East
WEEK 7 Accountability and Responsibility

Preparation for first session