Collusion in International Organizations: How States Benefit from the Authority of Secretariats

Hylke Dijkstra*

*Corresponding author for this work

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In the theoretical literature on the authority of international secretariats, academics often dichotomize between states and secretariats. Even when they account for the fact that states are often divided, they normally adopt a two-step approach: states first resolve their own differences before they entertain relations with secretariats. This article provides an alternative perspective. It argues that individual or groups of states may collude with like-minded secretariats to achieve outcomes at the expense of other states. Working informally together is beneficial. States can benefit from the rational-legal, delegated, moral, and expert authority of secretariats. States and secretariats can also exchange resources. The article illustrates this perspective through two case studies: the NATO intervention in Libya in 2011 and the European Union's military operation in Chad in 2008.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)601-618
Number of pages18
JournalGlobal Governance: A Review of Multilateralism and International Organizations
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017


  • international secretariats
  • authority
  • principal-agent model
  • NATO

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