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.

Conclusion: Return on the Legal Status of NGOs and on the Methodological Problems which Arise for Legal Scholarship

Pierre-Marie Dupuy

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


Pierre-Marie Dupuy In international law, NGOs remain legal objects which are difficult to apprehend. Neither subjects, nor objects, actors nonetheless! Neither even always formally recognized, which is to say possessing the status of observer at an international organization. NGOs irritate classical legal scholarship and worry states whose actions they watch and exactions they denounce. NGOs are multiform, ambitious but also ambiguous. Some of them, the largest and better known, such as Amnesty International, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) or Greenpeace, have been part of the landscape for some time. Their leaders, although they still retain a certain taste for contestation, aim at making it smoother. They more willingly comply with the rules of an international diplomacy of which they have become an essential part. Others have more narrowly defined goals and limited means, but are nonetheless active in providing expertise, disseminating information or carrying out missions, humanitarian or other, at a more or less local level, depending on the situations. Others still show a capacity for stonewalling that reveals them for what they really are: groups created by states but disguised as NGOs, as a kind of mask for the counter-propaganda organized with more or less subtlety by those that the real human rights organizations regularly denounce for their repeated violation of their obligations.1 It is thus important, here as anywhere else, to distinguish the genuine from the fake, the criteria being not primarily and not so much the sincerity of held beliefs, but an autonomous creation, devoid...

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