Related to the development of ‘global governance’ 1 and ‘global administrative law’, 2 one may witness a process of ‘agencifi cation’ at the global level. Indeed, apart from – or perhaps related to – the proliferation of international organizations, 3 a relatively new development is the proliferation of international bodies that are not based on an international agreement but on a decision by an international organization. It is not unusual for these bodies to exercise public law functions. According to some observers – and depending on defi nitions – the new international entities may even outnumber the conventional organizations. 4 The tendency towards functional specialization because of the technical expertise required in many areas may be a reason for the proliferation of such bodies and for their interaction with other international organizations and agencies, which sometimes leads to the creation of common bodies. International (regulatory) cooperation is often conducted between these non-conventional international bodies. 5 Whereas traditional international organizations are established by an agreement between states, in which their control over the organization and the division of powers is laid down, 6 the link between newly created international bodies and the states that established the parent organization is less clear. As one observer holds, this ‘demonstrates how the entity’s will does not simply express the sum of the member states’ positions, but reformulates them at a higher level of complexity, assigning decision-making power to different subjects, especially to the international institutions that promoted the establishment of the new organization’. 7

The aim of the present contribution is to identify the nature of these bodies, referred to by us as ‘international agencies’, by attempting to defi ne them on the basis of possible common characteristics. At the same time, our purpose is

to establish the role of these bodies in normative and regulatory processes taking place within the framework of international organizations. Answers to these questions will, fi nally, allow us to establish to what extent international agencies operate on the basis of a certain autonomy in the global administrative space. We will, fi rst of all, attempt to defi ne what we mean by ‘international agencies’. Next, we will seek to establish the degree of autonomy of international agencies. Finally, our – tentative – conclusions on the consequences of the emergence of international agencies for the development of the global administrative space will be presented.