Measuring the Impact of NGOs on Intergovernmental Organisations
‘It is always possible to find a solution to any conflict, and non-military actors, like civil society, can have a role’. These words, uttered by the former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari to an attentive audience of scholars and students at the Oxford Union in December 2012, offer the best foreword to the topic that is problematised and confronted in this book. The civil-society capability to influence global politics is the increasing concern of social scientists and policy-makers. This capability depends to a large extent on the role of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), national and international associations, and lobbies that represent civil-society interests. In order to represent the demands that cut across the borders of states, NGOs need suitable access to decision-making institutions. They participate in many transnational and world-level actions and programmes, and are also recognised by policy-makers as actors of the world political system, the reserved domain of the states. This condition is linked to the general, and controversial, issue of NGOs’ engagement in political participation, representation and democratisation of the decision-making processes of international organisations. It is true that global civil society cannot be reduced to NGOs and cannot be understood without them, since they represent those actors who have structured a dialogue with the intergovernmental dimension of the global system.