IOs Affecting Private Actors

International organizations are often in a position where they affect the private sector. The declaring of a pandemic by the WHO in march 2020 constitutes a great example of this. The pandemic and the actions taken to tame the virus had a great effect on the world economics. There is, however, many other examples as well. IOs often sign agreements with big corporations to gain expertise and money in order to fulfil projects. One or a few companies are better off and competitors are not - the markets are affected. 

Country Responses and the Reaction of the Stock Market to COVID-19—a Preliminary Exposition. This is an article by Dinh Hoang Bach Phan & Paresh Kumar Narayan (Taylor and Francis Online). 

The World Health Organization (WHO) in December listed the Comirnaty COVID-19 mRNA vaccine for emergency use, making the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine the first to receive emergency validation from WHO since the outbreak began a year ago. This validation is a clear benefit for Pfizer/BioNTech. See the second link for more information. 

IOM Finland has entered into a partnership with a Finnish company called Logonet to improve maternal health in Somalia with Finnish Baby Aid Kits. The Finnish Baby Aid Kit is a childbirth and nursing kit that is especially developed to be used in developing countries as well as in crisis and emergency conditions. The kit contains materials for childbirth and nursing a new-born. This is a clear example of an IO affecting the market. One company is better off and the competitors are not. 

IOM and Waka Waka, a solar lanterns company, have teamed up to help the Rohingya community in Bangladesh. Fifty-five thousand Rohingyas live in makeshift settlements where basic services and infrastructure are practically non existant. Rohingya children often grow up without formal education and most families have lost their traditional forms of livelihood. The lack of electricity impacts the community: children struggle to study in the evening and women feel less secure when neighbourhoods become dark. For every Waka Waka solar light or charger that you buy, IOM will distribute one Waka Waka to a Rohingya family in need.

One company is benefited over others. 

The LEED+ project builds on successes of the Local Empowerment through Economic Development (LEED) Project. From 2011–2018, LEED has helped to reduce poverty, create sustainable jobs and build the peace in northern Sri Lanka.

The impact of the market approach is sustained and scaled outcomes. Thereby the project will achieve lasting change among both public and private actors by playing on their incentive and capacity to adopt new ways of working, so impact continues long after the project has ended. With constraints to economic growth removed, change can be replicated and mainstreamed across sectors rather than only be confined to the individual actors the project is working directly with.

Partners: Ministry of Labour & Trade Union Relations, Employers’ Federation of Ceylon, Department of Cooperatives, Department of Agriculture, Department of Fisheries, Cooperatives, Producer Organizations, National Chamber of Exporters, Sea Food Exporters Association, District and Provincial Departments."

Many of these partners are working thightly with the private sector. The second link leads to the web page of the National Chamber of Exporters (Sri Lanka), where you easily will find information about all their partners. 

On December 17, 2019, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Grundfos, one of the world's top pump – and water solutions providers, officially signed an agreement that will gather their technological and humanitarian expertise around a clear and shared target: Bringing safe water to the world's most vulnerable.

In 1994, the World Heritage Committee launched the Global Strategy for a Representative, Balanced and Credible World Heritage List. Its aim is to ensure that the List reflects the world's cultural and natural diversity of outstanding universal value. To be included on the World Heritage List, sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria. 

It is not far-fetched to think of this listing performed by Unesco as market-affecting. Areas with sites included on the list have a better chance to attract tourists and visitors, which certainly affects private sector actors.  

The Commonwealth of Nations, or the Commonwealth, is a political association of 54 member states, almost all of which are former territories of the British Empire. The chief institutions of the organisation are the Commonwealth Secretariat, which focuses on intergovernmental aspects, and the Commonwealth Foundation, which focuses on non-governmental relations between member states. The Commonwealth does a lot of things, this international organisation for instance helps boosting trade between member countries, to create prosperity. Naturally they cooperate with the private sector as well, which affects the markets. 

According to this IO's web page:

Active collaboration with the private sector ensures the Center’s research can reach a broad base of farmers. Seed companies benefit from access to the World Vegetable Center Genebank; they can obtain the Center’s breeding lines to use as parent lines or as a source of traits for backcrossing programs.  The companies’ strength in commercial seed multiplication and marketing helps to rapidly spread beneficial research outcomes to farmers.

The World Vegetable Center is working with the private sector in order to strengthen the efficiency of the vegetable-based agriculture-sector in developing countries. This naturally has an effect on the markets. 


Since 2000, National Contact Points (NPC) for Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) have had the mandate to act as non-judicial grievance mechanisms under the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. With globalised corporate activity intensifying and related developments, such as climate change and global inequalities accelerating, RBC and access to remedy are more relevant than ever. 

The OECD Guidelines undoubtly have an effect on the private sector and the NPC-requirements further enhance the meaning of these. 

Ever since its establishment on the eve of the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) has been a key actor in the battle against environmental problems. The GEF provides grants to developing countries and countries with economies in transition. The GEF is, however, also co-operating with the private sector in an attempt to expand the use of non-grant instruments and mobilizing the private sector. 

Established in 1865, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is the oldest existing intergovernmental organization. Since 1947 the ITU is part of the UN family, as its specialised agency for telecommunications. The widespread transfers in ownership of national telecommunications to the private sector that have taken place during the second half of the 20th century has from the 1980s onward directed the focus of the ITU towards the private sector. This increased concentration to businesses and the markets has been discussed in a quite critical manner in the article Privatisation in the United Nations system: Patterns of influence in three intergovernmental organisations found on the setup-page of this web page. The article describes the ITU as an IO giving private sector interests a big role, a circumstance that challenges the claim that these forums are concerned primarily with apolitical issues. This is of course a claim that could be said to apply to many IOs. 

An intergovernmental organization such as the ITU is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states. IGOs are established by a treaty that acts as a charter creating the group. Treaties are formed when lawful representatives (governments) of several states go through a ratification process, providing the IGO with an international legal personality. IGOs are in other words founded on interests sprung from the public sector (governments). Are the public sector interests being hollowed out by the increased private sector involvement in the multilateral system? On the other hand, since the branch of telecommunications is so market-based today, why shouldn't the private sector be involved?

Check out the links to the left for further information about the private sector interests embedded in the operations of the ITU!