What is a Seat on the ECOSOC NGO Committee Worth? Exploring the State Motivations and Benefits of Granting UN Access to NGOs
50 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 9 Oct 2014
Date Written: 2011
The hallways of intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) are no longer just occupied by state delegations, but instead, a majority of IGOs in existence today grant access or participatory rights to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) too. Many NGOs can therefore attend IGO conferences, participate in day-to-day IGO working groups, implement the projects sponsored by IGOs, push items onto the agendas of IGO meetings, and provide background research for contentious topics. Existing explanations privilege the idea that NGOs help IGOs accommodate a growing democratic deficit or the legitimacy of the IGO, ignoring states as the central actors in international politics. But why would states want to bring NGOs into the already complex coordination problems that exist within IGOs? I argue that states primarily employ NGOs to help monitor and enforce their own positions in international politics. This chapter looks specifically at one IGO - the UN ECOSOC - to test this theory. I analyze the rotating 19 member ECOSOC NGO committee which helps to eliminate some of the predominant research challenges in IGO-NGO research. I show that (1) when a state is represented in the ECOSOC NGO committee, they are more likely to grant access to NGOs whose preferences align with the state’s and (2) the more pro-US the ECOSOC NGO committee, the more likely it is that pro-US NGOs are granted access. These relationships emphasize that state-level motivations and benefits are at the heart of explaining IGO-NGO access.
Keywords: NGO, Intergovernmental organizations, cooperation, UN, ECOSOC
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