Continuity Between Editions
Basic to the continuity between editions is the permanent identifying number (e.g. A3375) of every organization included in the Yearbook database. The type code which is used for statistical purposes.
Core data set and emergent types
The core focus of the Yearbook is the “conventional” types of international organization, whether governmental or non-governmental. These are distinguished as Types A, B, C and D (see Type 1).
While every effort is made to maintain continuity of types of organization, over the period of production of the Yearbook series some new types have been added to the classification system in order to complete the coverage and evolution of the range of organizational forms. The editors usually prefer to add a new type to the classification system, rather than modify the definitions of pre-existing types, in order to minimize disruption to the core statistical series.
New types of organizations that have arisen outside the core set include:
- Semi-autonomous bodies
- National organizations (internationally-oriented)
- National organizations (other)
- Unconventional forms
- Religious orders
- Meeting series
- International treaties
- Unconfirmed, proposed and in-process bodies
- Dead, dormant or inactive bodies
- Inactive unconventional bodies
- Virtual organizations
Some problems in handling geographical data over a period of years relate to:
- Changes of country name
- Emergence of a country from a wider grouping (e.g. French West Africa, former republics of the USSR)
- Splitting of a country (e.g. India, Pakistan and Bangladesh)
- Merging of a country (e.g. UAR, Germany)
It is the long-term policy of the editors to ensure the maximum database possibilities. This note describes the way in which continuity has been challenged, and preserved, despite changes to the order in which organizations are presented, the emergence of new organization continuity between editions – consistent with accuracy, ease of use and evolving types, and different approaches to their classification – and differing institutional arrangements.
The comments which follow may be usefully understood in relation to the accompanying table indicating the period and nature of the different phases since the foundation of the Union of International Associations in 1910 and the precursors of the Yearbook of International Organizations – notably the Annuaire de la Vie Internationale.
Basic to the continuity between editions since Phase IX is the permanent identifying number (e.g. A3375) of every organization included in the Yearbook database. The type code which is used for statistical purposes.
Historical review of international organization data
Phase I (1905-1907): Publication of the Annuaire de la Vie Internationale by the Institut International de la Paix (Monaco).
Phase II (1908-1914): Development by UIA of extensive profiles on international organizations as part of major early work on international documentation based on the Universal Decimal Classification order: Entries were printed in UDC number order in the Annuaire de la Vie Internationale, in collaboration with the Institut International de la Paix (Monaco)
Phase III (1914-1920): Work severely disrupted and scaled back during World War I and its aftermath.
Phase IV (1921-1939): Continuation by the League of Nations of profiling of international organizations, with documentary support from the UIA, through publication of the Handbook of International Organizations (French: 1921-1923-1925-1938; English: 1926-1929-1939).
Phase V (1940-1947): Work severely disrupted and scaled back during World War II and its aftermath.
Phase VI (1948-1950): Publication of a new Yearbook of International Organizations in Geneva (1948-1949-1950), with increasing collaboration of a reconstituted UIA.
Phase VII (1951-165): Continued publication of Yearbook of International Organizations (in French or English editions) by the UIA – supported by a resolution of the UN Economic and Social Council. Entries were allocated alphabetically to approximately 20 subject chapters (in the case of non-governmental bodies) and to one or more special chapters for intergovernmental bodies. Within chapters, entries were printed in either English or French order, alternating from one edition to the next. From 1954 a numerical sequence number was added to the printed entry to facilitate access via indexes. The numbering changed with each edition. Several indexes were provided.
Phase VIII (1966-1969): Classified, geographical and alternative title indexes cross-referenced a single alpha sequence. Continuation of the 20-category classification, with an additional category for EEC/EFTA business and professional groups. Other “secondary” bodies were interleaved into the sequence, but not given any classification.
Phase IX (1971-1974): Single numerical order of entries, omitting index cross-references, based on reference numbers permanently allocated to each organization in the original English alphabetic sequence, with new organizations added at the end of the sequence. A variety of indexes was provided. Continuation of the 20-category classification for NGOs and the interleaving of “secondary” entries.
Phase X (1976-1980): Numerical order of entries within two main sections. A prefix (either A or B) was added to the permanent numbers to permit addition of a large number of organizations (into a “secondary” category) that did not meet the criteria of the earlier editions. A variety of indexes was provided.
Phase XI (1981-1991): Numerical order of entries within type sections. A greater variety of prefixes (A,B,C,D, etc.) to the permanent number was implemented to distinguish organizations by levels of internationality, regionality or autonomy. An effort was made to change only the letter portion of the previous entry number (e.g. A2301 became C2301, B2987 became F2987). Organizations were listed in numerical order within type sections (determined by prefix). A single main index regrouped earlier individual indexes. Volumes 2 and 3 appeared from 1983. Religious orders (R) and Treaties (T) were added in 1983. Starting with the 23rd edition (1986), entry numbers of organizations received an additional letter in front of the previous format (e.g. A3375 became AA3375). The new first letter, now called the type code, indicated the type of organization and the section of the Yearbook in which the description was included; it was subject to change, according to changes in the organization itself. The second letter and final four numbers, the permanent reference number, remained constant.
Phase XII (1992-): Organization entries and indexes were integrated into a single alphabetic sequence. Entries were given a temporary numeric sequence number in the alphabetically order to facilitate index cross-referencing. This appears at the beginning of the entry and in the page header. The original 5-figure permanent number continues to be used for editorial purposes and appears at the end of the descriptive entry, followed by the type code.
The 5-figure number is also used as part of the web URL for access purposes.
Constraints on Yearbook organization
The above-indicated changes in the approach to organization inclusion and presentation reflect different efforts to reconcile essentially incompatible pressures:
- Increasing number of organizations
- Increasing quantity of useful information on organizations
- Increasing variety of organizational forms
- Distinguishing "truly international" from "marginally international"
- Increasing interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral focus of many organizations, preventing any simplistic ordering by chapter
- Need for multiple entry points through which to locate many organizations titled confusingly in one or more languages
- Importance in an international publication to avoid privileging any one language unduly
- Need to reflect the increasing complexity of the network of international organizations
- Need for simplicity of presentation to facilitate access by occasional users
- Provision of a permanent "registration" number
- Physical restrictions on the size of the publication, and marketing restrictions at an acceptable cost. The impact over the years of some of these pressures is discussed below in the light of the accompanying table.
Ensuring coherence of the core data set
The core focus throughout the period has been the “conventional” types of international organization, whether governmental or non-governmental. In Phases XI and XII, these have been distinguished as Types A, B, C and D. In Phase X, these were grouped together in a Section A. Prior to that no typological distinction was made between them except as intergovernmental vs non-governmental.
A major challenge over the years has been responding in a timely manner to the emergence of new organization types, without jeopardizing the definitional clarity of the core set of organizations. The issue was what was effectively being defined in practice as an interesting adjunct to the core data set and how, and when, to respond to such pressures. Furthermore what types of bodies outside the core data set merited juxtaposition with it in order to complete understanding of a complex functional ecology. And finally to what extent was it useful to make more transparent the bodies held as transitional or rejected types.
Challenges to the criteria of the core set became apparent at different times and for different reasons as illustrated by the following:
- Semi-autonomous bodies: In the case of intergovernmental organizations, bodies that could be defined as semi-autonomous became apparent in the form of major UN programs (e.g. UNDP, UNICEF, UNEP) that “justified” individual treatment even though they were created by the UN and could not legitimately be considered as independent. Much more problematic were the several hundred industry and professional non-governmental bodies created to liaise with the EEC (and EFTA). For a long period it remained unclear whether these were really just special committees of genuinely European bodies, or whether they should be considered as emergent features of the European “nation” – namely as a new kind of Europe-wide “national” body. During Phase VIII and IX they were therefore separately coded, in Phase X they were incorporated into the “secondary entry” section, and only in 1981 were they transferred to Type E as semi-autonomous bodies. This was designed to include any bodies that were “emanations” of persons, places, or other bodies. The existence of this type then permitted the inclusion in it of bodies that had complex relationships with a conventional parent body – namely regional sub-groupings or specialized thematic groups, that might appear in the literature to have an independent existence. Some thematic groups might even have multiple parent bodies as a liaison committee between them.
- National organizations (internationally-oriented): Such bodies are clearly not part of the core data set, but from the earliest days of the ECOSOC consultative status process, from 10-20 such bodies were accorded consultative relations. Since the UIA has always tracked all bodies in consultative relations, the early question was how to treat this type of body. They were therefore included, but distinguished, from Phase VII. From Phase XI, they were included as part of Type G, which facilitated the response to the comparatively large number of such bodies that were accorded consultative relations after the Earth Summit (1992). Since that time, the intention has been to document those bodies encountered as partners of other bodies in the core set but not to ensure comprehensive coverage of this type.
- National organizations (other): A trace has always had to be maintained on organizations that appeared (or claimed) to be international, or to be of relevance to the core data set (possibly because of their organization of international meetings). Initially such bodies were not included but subsequently they were included as part of Type G. Stricter criteria of continuing activity were applied from 1987 and increased the proportion of bodies transferred to Type U. In 1989 more radically criteria were applied to Type G to exclude apparently less active, or “less international bodies” that were moved from Type G to a new Type N. The intention has never been to ensure comprehensive coverage of this type.
- Unconventional forms: From Phase VII through Phase IX, bodies that were not formally constituted were excluded from the data set. However, throughout the 1970s there was an increasing emphasis on “networks” as opposed to conventional organizations. Informal organizations were recognized as performing a significant role, even by intergovernmental bodies. It also became clear that bodies such as clubs (e.g. the Club of Rome) which explicitly defined themselves as “non-organizations”, needed to be positioned outside the core data set. For this reason a Type F was created for bodies of unusual form -- or which raised many interesting (and time-consuming) questions if they were allocated to more conventional types. This was then used in Phase XI to hold “banks”, “foundations” and “funds”, as well as networks and other structures. Multinational enterprises, which had first been reviewed for the Yearbook in a 1968 survey, were placed briefly in a Type M before being allocated to Type F – and limited to intergovernmental for-profit enterprises.
- Religious orders: There are over 800 religious orders, primarily associated with the Catholic Church. Some constitute the oldest form of international organization, tracing their foundation back to the early centuries of the Christian era. Because of their status as emanations and dependencies of the Catholic Church, they were only included as a separate Type R from Phase XI, essentially an extension of Type F.
- Meeting series: A separate database is maintained on international meetings, many of which are organized by international organizations in the core data set. However some meetings have names that are virtually indistinguishable from those of conventional organizations – since many organizations call themselves by names such as “International Conference of....” or “World Congress of...”. When these meetings are held on a regular basis – without any formal continuing committee – they can no longer be considered for the core data set and must instead be considered as organizational substitutes for organizations that are then not needed. In order both to track these bodies, and to recognize their functional implication for the contents for the core data set, it was decided in Phase XI to allocate them to a Type S.
- International treaties: Intergovernmental organizations are, by the definition used for the core data set, created by treaty. However there are many treaties that do not have any organization or secretariat. Again such bodies may function as organizational substitutes obviating the need for the creation of an organization. In order both to track these bodies, and to recognize their functional implication for the contents for the core data set, it was decided in Phase XI to allocate them to a Type T – also designed to include the treaties basic to intergovernmental bodies in the core data set to which links are provided.
- Sub-units: Many of the more complex organizations, especially intergovernmental bodies, have a vast array of sub-units with functional responsibilities. It is beyond the capacity of the database maintenance process to track all these bodies in a systematic manner. However where there is any possibility that the title of the body may create the impression of an independent entity it has to be tracked anyway. Such bodies are therefore held to be useful to the extended dataset because of their thematic preoccupations. Some were included as secondary entries in Phase X, but were subsequently allocated to Type K. This type offers a means of avoiding unnecessary additions to Type E.
- Unconfirmed, proposed and in-process bodies: There are naturally delays between proposing a body, creating it, detecting its creation, locating it, and the ability to provide a description of it. This process may be confused by partial and inaccurate information. It is therefore useful to maintain a buffer zone for such bodies in their unconfirmed state. Prior to Phase XI these bodies were not published as part of the data set. Subsequent to that, in a spirit of transparency, they were published as Type J as a means of anticipating probable evolution of the data set.
- Dead, dormant or inactive bodies: Organizations from the core data set may cease to exist. In some cases this transition may be the subject of a formal declaration. In most cases organizations simply fade away. Since many organizations only effectively come alive in the process of organizing a periodic conference, if this is only held every 4-5 years, there is a real challenge of determining at any given time whether “dormant” bodies will become active again. Furthermore some “dead” organizations may persist through accessible archives or websites. Such bodies were separately coded from Phase IX and allocated to Type H. Stricter criteria of inactivity were applied from Phase XI (1987) to Types A to D (and to IGOs) which were then provisionally transferred to Type H to avoid diluting published profiles with out-of-date and therefore misleading material at a time when good data had to be omitted for lack of space. Web research has permitted resuscitation of many of the provisionally inactive bodies.
- Inactive unconventional bodies: For many decades bodies withdrawn from the tracing process were held in what was formalized as Type U from Phase XI. Its prime function, through computerized indexing, was as a reminder of bodies outside the current scope of the extended data set that might need to be reactivated. Type U could occasionally include active national bodies that were considered irrelevant to the extended data set. From 1981 to 1983 Type U was only used for unconfirmed and untraceable bodies from the past. From 1984 this type is also used to maintain an index trace on inactive bodies previously included in Types E and F. Stricter criteria of inactivity were applied from Phase XI (1987) to Types E, F, etc which were then provisionally transferred to Type U to avoid diluting published profiles with out-of-date and therefore misleading material at a time when good data had to be omitted for lack of space. From Phase XII, only inactive bodies or those whose information is out-of-date and which were previously included in Types E, F, G, K or N are included in Type U.
- Periodicals and journals: International journals that are not associated with any particular international or other body in the data set may also usefully be considered as organizational substitutes, replacing the need for an organization with that preoccupation. The “subscribership” can readily be understood as a “membership” and may be cultivated as such by the editors. Whilst such periodicals are indicated as part of the profile of a responsible organization, no systematic attempt has been made to extend the data set to include periodicals that are not so associated.
- Virtual organizations: No systematic attempt has yet been made to track and include the multitude of virtual organizations, that have been emerging since the existence of the internet, as a natural extension of the data set. Some of these may simply be enhancements to the mode of operation of bodies already profiled in the extended data set – and in fact may be their prime mode of action. Many others are effectively organizational substitutes for such bodies in new thematic areas and to compensate for resource constraints on the establishment of more conventional bodies expected to function across continents. Clearly, given the high volatility of electronic networks, there is a real challenge to determining how they should be associated with the data set, especially if those operating purely nationally are to be excluded.
Corresponding to the organization profiles is the treatment of organization secretariats or points of contact on which statistical data are presented. Some of the issues relating to this data are:
- Existence of a permanent secretariat: Some bodies may well have no secretariat for a variety of reasons. These may include: the size of the body may not warrant an office; the resources available may not warrant a permanent paid secretary of any kind; the administrative and other functions may be assumed by one of the member bodies; activities may be distributed electronically between key members; a permanent office may only become necessary when a meeting is organized.
- Rotation of secretariats: Many organizations rotate responsibility for secretariat functions among national members.
- "Primary" vs "Secondary" secretariats: In addition to the above factors, organizations may or may not distinguish unambiguously between a "primary" point of contact, such as a HQ address, and "secondary" contacts such as the office of the president, regional /continental offices, editor of a journal, representative at the UN (in the case of NGOs), etc. For the purpose of the data set, one primary address is normally selected. Many secondary addresses may be given for a single organization ¡V as in the case of the national offices of UNDP ¡V if the editors feel they are both reasonably permanent and usefully included. Whilst these secondary addresses were published from Phase VII, statistics on them were only provided from Phase VIII.
- Absence of information: A major difficulty is in tracking organizations that rotate offices or go out of existence without notice. For this reason, the secretariat data may not correspond with the data on the number of organizations.
Identifying the subject area of activity of an organization has been a continuing preoccupation from the earliest phases ¡V especially given the close involvement of the early editors with the development of international documentation and the Universal Decimal Classification (UDC).
The challenge is to ensure some degree of statistical continuity the phases that used the following approaches:
- UDC: This was notably used in Phase II. It has the advantage that at the highest level of UDC there are 10 categories.
- 15 categories: During Phase IV, the League of Nations made use of 15 categories to cluster NGOs only in its Handbook of International Organizations which had only minimal reference to non-League intergovernmental bodies.
- 20 categories: Some 18-21 categories were used to cluster NGOs from Phase VI through X. The range of categories was essentially stable from Phase VIII. Intergovernmental organizations were treated separately as 2-4 categories that were not subject classified. During Phase VIII, NGOs related to the EEC were allocated to a separate category (unclassified by subject), as were national bodies in consultative relations with the UN. The major disadvantages of this approach were: lack of subject classification for IGOs; bodies that could be justifiably allocated to two or more categories (partially handled through "secondary" subject classifications); time taken for such classification (especially with the significant increase in the number of bodies); instability of any allocation for a given organization (as it took on, or gave up, particular activities); emergence of new subject areas unforeseen in the category scheme (especially those of a cross-sectoral nature); importance of what UNESCO subsequently labelled as "transversal" themes (including "women").
- Matrix of categories: From Phase XI a major shift was made to the use of a matrix of 100 subject cells designed to cluster some 800 subject categories. The advantage of this approach has been: regular computerized reclassification of bodies on the basis of a thesaurus that could be progressively fine-tuned; allocation to multiple subject areas; emphasis on cross-sectoral relationships; rapid response to emergent subject areas. The main disadvantages have been delays in responding to multi-term descriptors.
The past century has clearly seen the shift from a manual mode of data processing and analysis, through a hybrid computer-assisted mode, to one essentially dependent on computer processing of data. The “manual” periods through Phase IX have naturally been vulnerable to particular kinds of error: counts, transcription, and totalling.
The following frameworks determined the criteria for the original collection of data over the phases in the 20th century.
- Institut International de la Paix (Monaco): It was during this Phase I that three editions of an Annuaire de la Vie Internationale were first produced of some 100 pages each.
- UIA (pre-WWI): It was during Phase II that a massive exercise in documenting international organizations was undertaken ¡V as published in the 2600-page editions of a reformatted Annuaire de la Vie Internationale in collaboration with the Institut International de la Paix (Monaco)
- WWI and aftermath: Although the UIA collections were maintained through WWI and its aftermath (notably in card files), the ability to reflect the results in published document was severely inhibited during Phase III.
- League of Nations: The publication initiative was taken over by the League of Nations (Handbook of International Organizations) during Phase IV, with varying levels of documentary assistance from the UIA, which continued to maintain card files independent of the League initiative.
- WWII and aftermath: The capacity of both the League and the UIA to continue documentation through WWII was severely disrupted. As a result information from Phase V is only evident from some subsequent phases.
- Geneva-based Yearbook: In the immediate post-war period (Phase VI) a commercial body launched a Yearbook of International Organizations to continue the work of the League, with increasing involvement of the UIA in succeeding editions.
- UIA (post-WWII): From Phase VII, the UIA took over full responsibility for profiling international organizations in further editions of the Yearbook of International Organizations, notably with support from a specific ECOSOC resolution. From Phase X, as noted above, efforts were made to extend coverage beyond conventional bodies in the core data set. This notably involved revisiting publications from Phase II to IV to determine whether bodies excluded by this focus should not be included in the extended data set. In particular this involved decisions about bodies of unconventional form (notably international orders, clubs and centres) that had been considered inappropriate in Phases VI and VII.
There are obvious problems in handling data over a period of years in relation to:
- Changes of country name
- Emergence of a country from a wider grouping (e.g. French West Africa, former republics of the USSR)
- Splitting of a country (e.g. India, Pakistan and Bangladesh)
- Merging of a country (e.g. UAR, Germany)
Table - Phases & Emphases in Development of International Organization Data Series
|Notes||m||a||a||a||b, n, o|
|Non-standard forms (F)||h, j, k||minimum
|Multinational corps. (M)||h||F||F|
|Religious orders (R)||d, j||minimum
|National bodies (G)||e, g, i||minimum||minimum||[B]||G||G|
|National bodies (N)||e, g, i||[B]||G||N|
|Meeting series (S)||k||[B]||S||S|
|"Noise" (U)||g, l, p||minimum
- Early editions of the Yearbook covered only conventional international bodies. From 1976 to 1978 these were grouped into "Section A".
- Criteria were broadened in 1976 to permit inclusion of borderline cases in a new "Section B". In 1981 "Section A" was redefined as the current Types A to D, and "Section B" was redefined as the current Types E to H.
- From 1962 to 1972 NGOs created in relation to the EEC or EFTA communities were treated as "secondary entries".
- Religious orders were transferred from Type F to a new Type R in 1983. Conference series were transferred from Type F to the new Type S in 1985.
- From 1954 to 1964 only national NGOs with consultative status at ECOSOC were included in the Yearbook. From 1966 other national NGOs were included, eventually justifying "Section B" from 1976 to 1978. In 1989 more radical criteria were applied to exclude apparently less active or less "international" bodies. In 1992 less "international" bodies were moved from Type G to a new Type N.
- Up to 1974 the total number of "international NGOs" reported in various academic studies included those indicated in note (e).
- These bodies were included in "Section B" from 1976, and as "secondary entries" prior to that. Stricter criteria of continuing activity were applied from 1987 and increased the proportion of bodies transferred from other Types to Types H and U.
- In 1981 Type M bodies were included in Type F. Since 1985 they are again included in Type F, but only governmental enterprises are included.
- In 1992 less "international" bodies were moved from Type G to Type N.
- Religious orders were transferred from Type F to a Type R in 1983.
- Conference series were transferred from Type F to Type S in 1985.
- From 1981 to 1983 Type U was only used for unconfirmed and untraceable bodies from the past. From 1984 this type is also used to maintain an index trace on inactive bodies previously included in Types E and F. Since 1989 only inactive bodies previously included in Types E, F, G, K or N are included in Type U.
- From Annuaire de la Vie Internationale, published by the UIA prior to the Yearbook series.
- Criteria broadened in 1976 to permit inclusion of many new borderline cases in a new "Section B". Criteria maintained for "Section A", but some borderline cases reallocated from "Section A" to "Section B".
- No additions were made to "Section A" of the 1978 edition, which was originally intended as a direct French translation of the 1977 edition.
- For types J, K and U no distinction is made between NGO and IGO bodies.