NGOs in International Law

NGOs in International Law

Efficiency in Flexibility?

Edited by Pierre-Marie Dupuy and Luisa Vierucci

The increasing role that NGOs play at different levels of legal relevance – from treaty-making to rule implementation, and from support to judges to aid delivery – calls for reconsideration of the international legal status of those organizations. This book shows that the degree of flexibility currently enjoyed by NGOs in fields as varied as human rights, the environment and the European Union development cooperation policy constitutes the best arena for all actors involved, with the consequences that the instances where more strict regulation of NGOs’ participation is desirable are very limited.

Introduction: A Normative or Pragmatic Definition of NGOs?

Christine Bakker and Luisa Vierucci

Subjects: law - academic, human rights, public international law, politics and public policy, human rights


Christine Bakker and Luisa Vierucci NGOS AND MAINSTREAM INTERNATIONAL LAW It is today beyond doubt that Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) play a prominent role in international law-relevant fields, from treaty making to rule implementation; from support to courts to aid delivery. However, the increasingly active stance of these organizations on the international plane still raises questions concerning their position under international law, which is the subject of a continuing debate amongst legal scholars. In the last decade this debate has focused especially on the question whether NGOs have international legal personality. In legal doctrine an entity with international legal personality is usually described as an entity endowed with legal rights and/or obligations and legal capacities directly conferred on it under international law. Sometimes the legal capacities are specified as including procedural capacity and/or treaty-making capacity. While states clearly enjoy all aspects of international legal personality, this is not necessarily the case for other entities. For instance whereas International Governmental Organizations (IGOs) usually have treaty-making capacities, they cannot invoke the contentious jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) or of regional human rights courts. Legal scholars have not reached a consensus on the question whether NGOs also enjoy (some components of) international legal personality. Moreover some authors have examined the legal status of NGOs, rather than their legal personality. The term ‘legal status’ has been efficaciously defined as ‘a broad concept, which embraces all kinds of provisions and practices which explicitly take account of NGOs or which can be used by...