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 3: NGOs and the Development Policy of the European Union

Valentina Bettin

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


Valentina Bettin INTRODUCTION The relationship between NGOs and the European Union (EU) has been the subject of a long and intense debate since the Commission’s publication of the White Paper on European Governance in 2000.1 This debate has focused on the role that civil society should play at the EU level and how the EU should make its decision-making process more democratic. This issue is without doubt an important one. However, the current work limits itself to a question that is associated but that has been somewhat neglected,2 namely the evolution of the status of NGOs in a specific area of EU action, that is development policy. The international order being the legal system of reference, the EU becomes relevant in this context, not as a state-oriented organization, but rather as an international organization. From this point of view, the sector of development is particularly interesting for two reasons. First of all, it is one of the few areas left where the European Union is entitled only to complement 1 According to the Commission, the aims are to focus on getting ‘people and organizations more centrally involved in both shaping and delivering EU policy’, European Governance – A White Paper, COM (2001) 428. 2 Most of the scientific contributions focus on the role that NGOs can play at the European level to make the EU decision-making process more participative. See, for instance, Peter Hermmann (ed.) (1998), European Integration between Institution Building and Social Process: Contributions to a Theory of Modernisation...

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