In depth

Finding out more

Finding out more

We provide two pieces of material related to civil society and international relations, a map showing countries' membership of international organisations, and a review of The Hague Agenda for Peace and Justice in the 21st century, the main document for civil society on peace in the modern world.

Map with country level of participation in international organisations

What the map shows:

The benchmark publication on international organisations is the "Yearbook of International Organizations". This annual publication provides details of international non-profit making organisations, including both governmental and non-governmental organisations. The Yearbook uses various criteria when deciding to include an institution or organisation: its objectives, members, structure, offices, financing, relations with other organisations and activities. While it does not give overall figures that make a distinction between governmental and non-governmental organisations, we felt it would be useful to show the figures per country in order to show the level of integration into international society. We also thought it was essential to include the population variable, as countries with the same number of organisations but much lower populations could not be shown in the same way. We have also established a ratio of the number of inhabitants per international organisation (governmental and non-governmental) of which the country is a member. Another decision involved excluding all countries with less than 1 million inhabitants from the sample (these are shown in white on the map), as if we included them, the sample would be clearly biased as a result of this figure. Finally, the colour scheme shows the level of integration, with darker colours showing countries with a high level of integration, and lighter colours countries with a lower level.

As a result, the map shows a country's level of integration in international society based on its participation in international organisations and weighted by the number of inhabitants (excluding countries with less than a million inhabitants) i.e. it is a ranking of countries ordered by the number of inhabitants and by each membership of an international organisation. Five levels have been established in order to distinguish between countries: the first contains countries with between 427 inhabitants per international organisation and 2,000 inhab./IO; the second, those between 2,000 and 7,000 inhab./IO; the third, those between 7000 and 15,000 inhab./IO; the fourth is for those between 15,000 and 30,000 inhab./IO; and the fifth and final level is for those with over 30,000 inhab./IO.

What the map explains:

A first observation is an obvious one - Europe is at the centre of the world in terms of international organisations. In fact, Europe accounts for around 60% of the countries with the highest level of membership. At the other extreme is Asia, with only three representatives. Population is a determining factor at this first level, in which only the Netherlands exceeds 15 million inhabitants.

Second, both Africa and America are diverse and plural continents. They both have member countries on the first two levels, and some of these have a relatively significant number of inhabitants. Meanwhile, Asia - and especially central and south-east Asia - are areas with little participation in international organisations and high population levels, which means that they are some distance from the central figures, and this is shown in the light colour of these geographical areas.

Third, population is not a determining factor, as even the large European Union countries (the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Germany) are part of the second level. The third and fourth levels include countries with medium-sized or small populations, especially in Africa and Central Asia, such as Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Burundi, Angola and Somalia.

Finally, the last level mostly consists of countries with very large populations (taken together, they account for 60% of the world's population). However, three of these countries have less than 30 million people (Uzbekistan, North Korea and Afghanistan). Furthermore, the differences are not established only by population levels. The country with most memberships of international organisations in the entire group, the USA, does not even surpass Spain in absolute terms.

It is difficult to draw general conclusions apart from those mentioned above: the central role of Europe, African and American diversity, and the distance of central and south-east Asia. However, in terms of international relations there is another piece of clear evidence: medium-sized and small countries have a greater need for integration within international society (even in absolute terms) than the world's largest countries. It is possible that the population factor remains an important asset when acting in the international arena. In this regard, small and medium-sized countries need extensive participation in international society in order to compensate for this deficit in their population.

The Hague Agenda for Peace and Justice in the 21st century

The document we present here has a threefold value which makes it extremely interesting. First, the process of creating a document involved consultation with hundreds of organisations and individuals, including many from Catalonia. Instead of involving private or state interests, the agenda is therefore a constituent document of international civil society in favour of peace, which is not based on protest demonstrations, but rather on reflection and ideas. Furthermore, the contents of the document are very important: it establishes the single objective of "saving future generations from the scourge of war," based on four key areas: the causes of war and the culture of peace; the institutions of international humanitarian law and human rights; prevention, resolution and transformation of violent conflict and disarmament and human security.

The document has a further use. It was created approximately 10 years ago, and both its spirit and its main objective remain in force today. However, it is interesting to consider the movement's progress or areas of stagnation: the International Criminal Court is a reality, as it is the prohibition of landmines. However, progress on the abolition of nuclear weapons has been minimal, as has global action to prevent war. It is therefore a useful gauge of the strengths and weaknesses of the movement, a decade after it was created.

Materials produced by: Pablo Aguiar and Júlia Boada