In this paper, I examine to what extent the notion of ‘pressure’ helps to make sense of a range of phenomena that international organizations have (more or less) recently come to confront. In the first part, I trace the elements of ‘pressure’. I argue that they include the interaction of a force and an object to which that force is applied, an ‘if-not’ component that implies adverse consequences when the object fails to adequately adapt to the force, and a sense of unease at the prospect of such consequences. Taken together, the three elements boil down to the question ‘why we still need’ an international organization. In the second part, I examine the argument that international organizations have come under pressure in recent years because the gap between adaptive needs and adaptive capacities has widened. This argument suggests that while the environment in which international organizations are embedded requires them to adapt more frequently, more fundamentally and more quickly, international organizations themselves have become more cumbersome over time.