Measuring the Impact of NGOs on Intergovernmental Organisations
Chapter 4: Humanitarian NGOs and the UN peace and security institutions
The UN system represents the most meaningful laboratory in which humanitarian NGOs have strengthened their expertise and tested their new roles in respect of states and institutional bodies by using formal accreditation and relations with ECOSOC to shape practices and norms. Within the humanitarian system, the UN looks like a big cell in which tradition and innovation coexist and merge, producing a flexible but very centralised structure. The UN has also historically represented the universally recognised realm in which the concept of collective security has been conceived and structured. The main literature usually divides this process into three eras dominated by different events and political implications, namely the time up to the end of the Second World War (pre-1945), the Cold War (1945–90), and the post-Cold-War period (since 1991 to present times) (Murphy, 1996; Barnett, 2008). All eras have been marked by a changeable distribution of power and consequently by a moving structure of the world governmental system. While there are few analyses on the topic before and during the Cold War, because of the rules of the bipolar game, the most meaningful interpretations deal with the activism of the present era, particularly in the 1990s, in direct response to the changes in the international system and the behaviour of a few leading governments.
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