This chapter introduces and defines the terms ‘informal groups of states’, ‘groups of friends’, and ‘contact groups’. It develops a synergistic analytical framework, identifying the causal mechanisms that contribute to the formation of informal groups of states by borrowing from insights of theories of agency and delegation. It challenges the proposition that centralization and independence are key functional characteristics of international organizations which enhance efficiency. Instead, it argues that decentralization via informal groups of states allows the achievement of policy goals that would be unattainable in a centralized setting. The typology of exit, voice, and loyalty is incorporated into analytical framework to explain the dynamics between informal groups and the Security Council. Such an approach provides substantial explanatory leverage to explain the institutional effects of the Security Council under conditions of systemic change. The chapter concludes with an outline of the book’s contents.
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