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Inter-Governmental Organizations (IGOs): Getting Started

What is an Inter-Governmental Organization?

An Inter-governmental Organization (IGO) is defined as "an organization composed primarily of sovereign states, or of other intergovernmental organizations. IGOs are established by treaty or other agreement that acts as a charter creating the group." (Union of International Organizations website.)

A 'conceptual' definition of an IGO is:

[IGOs are] entities created with sufficient organizational structure and autonomy to provide formal, ongoing, multilateral processes of decisionmaking between states, along with the capacity to execute the collective will of their members (states).
Volgy, Thomas J. et al. "Identifying Formal Intergovernmental organizations." Journal of Peace Research 45:6 (2008) pp. 849-862

Duke University Libraries hold significant collections of international organizations materials, especially from the United Nations and the European Union. Duke also has a collection of League of Nations documents.

IGO Custom Search Engine

The IGO Custom Search Engine searches across hundreds of IGO websites, enabling users to research topics such as human rights, development, environment, education, HIV/AIDS and health from IGOs like the United Nations, World Bank, UN Development Program (UNDP), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), European Union, Organization of American States, the Asian Development Bank and many others.

This Google Custom Search Engine (CSE) is a project of the International Documents Taskforce (IDTF) of the American Library Association (ALA). For more background on this project, including a growing list of IGOs included in the search, please see the IDTF wiki.


For help with data sets, statistical software, and GIS/digital mapping programs please contact: Data and GIS Services

Subject Librarian

Christof Galli
Duke University Libraries
Box 90195
Durham, NC 27708-0195
Office: inside 227 Bostock Library
P: (919) 660-5850
Fax: (919) 668-3134


Middle East/Islamic Studies
International Governmental Organizations
Non-Governmental Organizations

Noteworthy IGO

League of Arab States flag

League of  Arab States | جامعة الدول العربية

The Arab League or League of the Arab States is a regional intergovernmental organization of Arab States in the Middle East and North Africa formed in Cairo on March 22, 1945. Seven states formed the League, defining its main goals as to: "draw closer the relations between member States and co-ordinate collaboration between them, to safeguard their independence and sovereignty, and to consider in a general way the affairs and interests of the Arab countries."

To find materials in Duke's Libraries about the Arab League, click here.

Nobel Prize for IGO

Recognizing the problem of potential global climate change, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988. It is open to all members of the UN and WMO.

IPCC - How does it work?
IPCC - Meeting Documentation
IPCC Reports
IPCC Working Groups/Task Force