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Beyond the machinery metaphors: Towards a theory of international organizations as machines

Kotsakis, Andreas (2024) Beyond the machinery metaphors: Towards a theory of international organizations as machines. Leiden Journal of International Law, . pp. 1-22. ISSN 0922-1565. E-ISSN 1478-9698. (doi:10.1017/S0922156524000153) (KAR id:105834)


This article builds upon the common metaphor of international organizations as the ‘machinery’ of international law to present a theoretical exploration of these institutions. This metaphor has remained unexamined, a reflection of the paradoxical status of international organizations as objects lacking theoretical attention. By tapping into the metaphor’s full theoretical potential and expanding it into a theory of international organizations as machines, this article introduces a new conceptualization of their role and operation. This is accomplished by applying a particular machine concept from social theory, as developed in the work of Felix Guattari and his collaboration with Gilles Deleuze. The proposed machinic perspective enables the casting of the relation between international organizations and states in a new light, building on the classical concerns with these entities’ attributed powers and granted international legal personality. It presents an image of these institutions as agents focused on the production of connections and links with external ideas and forces, in order to produce unforeseen powers and capacities.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1017/S0922156524000153
Uncontrolled keywords: international organizations law; international institutions; functionalism; Felix Guattari; machine theory
Subjects: J Political Science > JX International law
K Law
K Law > KZ Law of Nations
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > Kent Law School
Funders: University of Kent (
Depositing User: Andreas Kotsakis
Date Deposited: 03 May 2024 09:46 UTC
Last Modified: 07 May 2024 12:51 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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