New relevant actors in international relations
NGO diplomacy – managers or diplomats?
NGO diplomacy – methods and tools
Case study: The Ottawa Process
Conclusion and lesson for the future
New relevant actors in international relations.
The realistic point of view that international relations are only ruled by states is definitely passé. The states are no longer a black box. The increasing number and impacts of civil society influences not only the national sphere but also the international arena. This development has its impacts on diplomacy. Diplomacy is no longer state-centric. Non-state actors like non-governmental organisations (NGO) and multinational corporations (MNC) play a significant role in international relations. Some scholars even state that they are more important than states. (Cooper/Hocking 2000:362) We can assume that certain NGOs and MNCs are definitely more relevant than some states. The fact that some MNCs earning capacity and financial resources are higher than the one of states has a lot to commend this assumption. In a ranking of states and MNCs by size of earning in 2005-2006 the twentieth is Wal-Mart with $288 billion after Sweden with $321.4. Beside Wal-Mart there are British Petroleum ($285.1 billion) and Exxon Mobil ($270.8 billion) which are in the ranking before states like Turkey ($268.7 billion) and Austria (25. / $262.1 billion). In the top fifty are fourteen MNCs and in the following fifty up to place one hundred there are thirty-six MNCs and only fourteen states. It’s the contrast to the top fifty and with a total look on the top hundred there are fifty percent states and fifty percent MNCs. These numbers illustrate well the huge impact of non-state actors in global and national governance.
Of course, the power of NGOs cannot be measured in financial numbers and we cannot conclude from MNCs to NGOs. As we will see later, the influence of NGOs arises differently, but they are definitely relevant and do matter. (Arts/Noortman/Reinalda 2001:3 and Reinalda 2001:37) The multilateral diplomacy established with the Westphalian state system is still intact. (Sullivan 2005:273) But new players like NGOs and MNCs challenge the traditional systems and change it. There are good reasons why NGOs become more and more part of the international arena. First, the problems today are not one-dimensional or locally limited but global and more complex. Problems like global warming need a global answer and solution. A second reason is the growing weakness of the state. NGOs jump into the gap and provide services the state was traditionally responsible for like health care service and education. A simple reason for the augmentation of NGOs is the end of the Cold War and the increasing number of democratic regimes. (see table 1) In democracies there are expanded civil guarantees which allow civil society to found NGOs without the fear of reprisal. And simply the financial resources for NGOs has been grown. (Segaar 2004:2-3)
This paper deals with the term “Manager Diplomat” in the context of NGOs and points out their strategy to influence the international policy making. In one case study, known as the Ottawa process, we will illustrate the diplomatic strategic plan of NGOs.
Before we describe the manager diplomat it is necessary to precise the term NGO. There are many different definitions and because of that the number of NGOs varies dramatically. The Yearbook of International Organizations states 21.026 NGOs for the year 2006. (quoted from Leguey-Feilleux 2009:105) If we use a stricter definition of NGO the Yearbook of International Organizations still counts 7.682 NGOs worldwide. (http://www.bpb.de/wissen/3UD6BP,0,0,NichtRegierungsorganisationen_%28NGOs%29.html [29.04.2010]) That’s still a huge amount.
This paper works with a negative definition of NGO. As the term non-governmental is also negative we try to define NGO by saying what is not a NGO. The first point is quite obvious: NGOs are not established or controlled by states in contrary to inter-governmental organizations. The second point which distinguishes them from liberation movements and armed opposition groups is that they do not seek to overthrow governments by force. Thirdly, contrary to political parties the NGOs do not aim to acquire state power themselves. The fourth criterion is important to distinguish NGOs from MNCs or companies in general. MNCs are also classified as non-state actors but NGOs do not seek financial profit for their own sake. For sure, they merchandise their ideas and try to make profit but not for their own sake but for the idea or the aim they are fighting for. The last thing NGO do not fulfil is that they do not break the law in contrast to criminal organisations. NGOs are generally law-abiding. If they break the law it is in the frame of civil disobedience. (Kamminga 2005:96)
NGO diplomacy – managers or diplomats?
After the clarification of the term NGO we ask what are the leaders of these organisations. Are they diplomats, managers, manager diplomats or rather diplomatic managers? To find the best term for the NGO staffs who are involved in diplomacy, we first try to define their job and what they are doing. Second, we have a closer look at our example the Ottawa process. And finally we test the given definition. As longs as we don’t have the proper term, we call them NGO staffs. So, what do they do to achieve the NGO interests. Our two main subjects are manager and diplomat. Let’s see how the functions of NGO staffs are similar to these two terms.
NGO staffs are not bound by territory like government diplomats but by common values, knowledge, and interests of their organisation. They represent the interests of their organisation, they engage in information exchange, they negotiate and they provide policy advice. These are all functions the traditional diplomats fulfil as well. Traditional diplomats inter alia represent their country, deliver information, negotiate and give policy advice. So the essential difference is that NGO staffs are not bound by territory.
How can we link the term manager to NGO staffs? The term manager is usually linked to corporations. What do the NGO diplomats do like managers of multinational corporations? Obviously there are some similarities with multinational corporations. First, MNCs try to influence the national decision-making process by high-level talks and statements as well as to influence the public opinion. Secondly, MNCs get in touch with foreign governments to enforce their interests. And thirdly, MNCs pressure international organisations (IO) to influence the policy-making. (Bolewski 2005:84) Again, NGOs do the same: they try to influence the national decision-making process, they are directly in contact with governments and IO to promote their interests, and they build up transnational networks. NGOs are mentioned in the UN Charta in article 71. It says that “(t)he Economic and Social Council may make suitable arrangements for consultation with non-governmental organisations”. That’s somehow a legitimation for NGOs to enter the international arena and to get in touch with IO and governments. One difference between NGOs and MNCs is that NGOs aim for socio-political interests and not for economic interests like MNCs do.
We see that there are similarities in the way of their work with the strategies of state diplomats and MNCs. So, the question if NGO staffs are rather managers or diplomats is not answered yet.
NGO diplomacy – methods and tools
Before we finally illustrate the Ottawa process we briefly highlight who is addressed by NGO campaigns and what are the different methods they use for their campaigns.
NGO campaigns are primarily addressed to national decision-making processes. The aim is to influence the outcome of international negotiations via the national decision-making. (Metzges 2006:19) Therefore, we point out that campaigns are addressed to nation states, the national media and the national population. On the other hand the campaigning is not limited to these addressees. NGOs try to use every possible channel and campaigns also IO, as we see they are officially mentioned in the UN Charta, and MNC, because they are powerful players and often the reason for the NGO actions. For example NGOs fight against violation of human rights or against the environmental pollution both caused by corporations. So it is quite obvious to fight directly against the causer of defects or nuisances. Further NGO campaigning addresses also other NGOs to get allies in a common fight. And it is not out of the question that NGOs have contrary or different aims and therefore try to campaign each other.
After the addressees we will have a closer look to the different methods NGOs are using: What are the methods NGOs use to manage their interests? Jean-Robert Leguey-Feilleux points out mainly six ways how NGOs influence the policymaking:
First, the hallway diplomacy which describes that NGO staffs communicate with decision makers wherever and whenever it is possible. This method is used if NGOs are not involved in the negotiation and not sitting at the table themselves. They try to investigate the process, deliver arguments and information, and keep up the pressure. This form of interaction is nothing new and is also used by professional lobbyists since the 19th century. (Leguey-Feilleux 2009:105-6)
The second method is probably one of the most powerful especially in the age of internet and web 2.0. NGOs mobilise public support and influence the public opinion. They can generate opposition, create coalition and networks to avert plans of governments or IO. It’s not always negative. On the other hand they generate positive support to assist campaigns of certain participants. (Leguey-Feilleux 2009:106) Henry Rouillé d’Orfeuil stresses that “une négociation se gagne ou se perd dans l’opinion publique” and the NGOs often bring the discussion from behind the door in the public arena.
 Henry Rouillé d’Orfeuil worked for Foreign Ministry of France and for the World Bank as well he was the president of Cordination SUD which is an organisation to coordinate French international solidarity NGOs. (http://www.coordinationsud.org/Qui-sommes-nous [30.04.2010])
 Quoted from Nessi 2006:1.
- Quote paper
- Dominik Naab (Author), 2010, NGO-Diplomacy – Manager Diplomat, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/197756