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.

Chapter 1: Beyond Consultative Status: Which Legal Framework for an Enhanced Interaction between NGOs and Intergovernmental Organizations?

Emanuele Rebasti

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


1. Beyond consultative status: which legal framework for enhanced interaction between NGOs and intergovernmental organizations? Emanuele Rebasti INTRODUCTION Interaction with intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) is a central part of NGO’s (non-governmental organization)1 activity at the international level. The institutional structures of international cooperation provide NGOs with the forum they need to make their voices heard beyond the boundaries of the nationstate and with a political target for the exercise of their non-governmental diplomacy. Thus it is not surprising that NGOs have hardly been indifferent to intergovernmental institutions: either confrontational or cooperative, NGOs’ action is often defined with reference to IGOs’ policies or aims at influencing the outcomes of intergovernmental processes. Similarly, IGOs have increasingly 1 As is exhaustively explained in the Introduction to the present book, the notion of a Non-Governmental Organization is not univocal in international practice or in academic debate. While it is commonly understood that NGOs are organizations established by private initiative, formally free from any governmental influence and without a profitmaking aim, it is much more debated whether in that category may also fall organizations which promote professional or class interests; which represent social or ethnic groups; which lack legal personality in their national law order; which have a political or religious nature or which carry out their activity in the territory of a single state. In practice, every IGO which establishes a formalized relationship has its own definition of an NGO. In recent times, however, IGOs have been promoting cooperation with a larger and larger...

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