How NGOs succeed in changing global policy

Over the past decades, governments have delegated more and more power to international organizations such as the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) to solve transboundary problems. Meeting global problems with national and local government alone is at best suboptimal and at worst detrimental. Shortfalls of international organizations invite uncoordinated climate policies, a fragmented Internet, perennial financial crises, transcultural misunderstanding, arms proliferation, trade protectionism, and human rights abuses. Given the importance of international organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) increasingly lobby such organizations, trying to influence their policy-making.

Our publications forthcoming in the British Journal of Political Science and in Political Studies show how and how effectively NGOs influence international organizations, based on extensive qualitative interview and survey data among more than 300 NGOs in the UN and four other international organizations. Three conclusions stand out. First, NGOs engaging in advocacy use ‘inside strategies’, providing policy information to decision-makers, rather than ’outside strategies’, mobilizing political leverage through media and public events. Second, NGOs dependent on membership contributions do not rely more extensively on inside strategies, since outside strategies are useful for this this type of organizations by increasing visibility among their members. Third, NGOs are most influential when they provide international policy-makers with relevant policy information in exchange for access to the policy process. It matters less if NGOs are well-funded, collaborate with each other, and mobilize public opinion.

Lisa Maria Dellmuth, Jonas Tallberg

Advocacy Strategies in Global Governance: Inside vs. Outside Lobbying

NGO Influence in International Organizations:Information, Access, and Exchange

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