International organizations has undergone dramatic changes in the last thirty years -the most relevant one being the development of rules governing their relationships with individuals. This body of public law should allow the organizations to face global challenges, such as development and social justice. Does this body of rules effectively fulfil these objectives? Does it instead achieve other goals? Does the content of these rules suggest that the process through which they are shaped and the objectives pursued in practice respond to other kind of interests, namely economic interests of the states financing the organizations? The paper explores the dynamics underlying the development and implementation of the law of international organizations, arguing that the interplay of economic interests among states, which in many ways still carries the traces of the colonial past, has determined both the emergence of this body of law as well as its contents and shortcomings.