Handbook of Research on NGOs
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Handbook of Research on NGOs

Edited by Aynsley Kellow and Hannah Murphy-Gregory

This volume provides a critical overview of research on Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs). While it notes that the definition of NGOs is contested, and can include both business and national groups, it focuses primarily on international NGOs engaged with human rights, social and environmental concerns, and aid and development issues. With contributions by Peter Willetts, Tom Davies, Bob Reinalda and other leading scholars, it provides a series of critical essays on both general aspects of NGOs and significant issues of particular concern.
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Chapter 21: NGOs and multi-level, multi-arena governance

Aynsley Kellow and Hannah Murphy-Gregory


Global governance is conducted in multiple arenas, giving rise to opportunities for ‘forum shopping’ by a range of actors, including NGOs. This chapter examines such strategies of NGOs in relation to the enforcement of labour standards, intellectual property rights, investment rules and marine governance. Because of institutional characteristics (membership, decision-making procedures and enforcement capacity), multiple arenas and their use as alternative arenas prove beneficial for NGOs on a short-term basis. Forum-shopping strategies allow NGOs (and nation-states) to bypass institutional constraints at one forum and progress their policy goals elsewhere; and assist both developing and developed nations, providing normative justifications for policy changes and publicising key issues to exert pressure agree to policy change. While some lament forum shopping as simply instrumental, these cases show it can overcome the limitations of individual policy areas at the international level by providing forums for states and NGOs to improve or advance international agreements.

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