International organizations are important actors in the formation of international norms for artificial intelligence, apart from the states that have ostensible control over them. Several of the organizations are created by and implement international treaties. Together, they form the crux of international regimes in areas such as trade, intellectual property, health, human rights, the environment and peace and security. Several of these institutions are creating norms for artificial intelligence applications out of their own treaty frameworks and competencies. International organizations that are engaged in such governance include organizations under the United Nations umbrella; the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; and the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence. These organizations provide forums where states and other international actors consider and adopt AI norms. They also facilitate agreement among states, sometimes by virtue of their substantive expertise and sometimes because states use them strategically to take policy decisions that would not be possible on the domestic level. At the same time, international organizations are limited in their ability to create norms. Standing as they do on the more centralized side of the spectrum between fragmented and centralized governance, they are subject to the same vulnerabilities as other centralized institutional forms: ossification, infighting, and incompetence. Even more than their domestic counterparts, international organizations are unaccountable to the public. These limitations threaten the legitimacy of the policy decisions that emerge from these institutions. The strengths and weaknesses displayed in international organizations in general inform the debate whether there should be a standalone international organization for artificial intelligence.

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