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The Role of NGOs in International Treaty-Making


Kal Raustiala


University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law

September 16, 2011

The Oxford Guide to Treaties, Oxford University Press (2012)
UCLA School of Law Research Paper No. 11-31

Abstract:     
This essay, forthcoming in the Oxford Guide to Treaties, surveys the role of NGOs in treatymaking. It asks four key questions. First, what roles do NGOs play today in treaty processes, and how have these roles changed? Second, what explains the increased prominence of NGOs? Third, are NGOs a salutary addition to treatymaking or illegitimate special interests? And finally, Four, what is the broader significance of NGO activity for international law and international order? NGOs are clearly important players in treatymaking today. But their roles remain, to a large degree, circumscribed and controlled by states. Indeed, NGO participation is frequently useful to governments and the rules and practices regulating their participation in treaties reflect this often symbiotic relationship. And at the most fundamental level, the presence of NGOs in contemporary treatymaking and implementation- which for brevity I will refer to as treaty processes- is a sign of the expansion of the domain of treatymaking. As international law has increasingly expanded its substantive ambit, it has come to govern more and more of what has traditionally been thought to fall within the sphere of national law. In turn, the process of international lawmaking has come to resemble the process of national lawmaking. Like lobbyists in national capitals, NGOs tell us where governing power is; increasingly, that power rests at the international level.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 23

Keywords: NGOs, treaties, international law, international organizations

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Date posted: September 17, 2011 ; Last revised: September 27, 2012

Suggested Citation

Raustiala, Kal, The Role of NGOs in International Treaty-Making (September 16, 2011). The Oxford Guide to Treaties, Oxford University Press (2012); UCLA School of Law Research Paper No. 11-31. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1928937

Contact Information

Kal Raustiala (Contact Author)
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law ( email )
385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Room 1242
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
United States
310-794-4856 (Phone)
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