Have you ever wondered how diplomats, i.e. arguably still the most powerful actors in international organizations, think and talk about the idea of non-state participation? In my most recent article in Global Governance, I argue that German diplomacy so far only rarely conceptualizes non-state participation in intergovernmental organizations as a valuable step improving IO legitimacy. Rather, a functional understanding of IO participation, i.e. highlighting the material benefits of NGOs and others, persists. The notion that NGOs may also contribute to a larger legitimacy of IOs, e.g. by establishing participative and transparent procedures, is rarely mentioned and even actively challenged.
Below’s the abstract. Please feel free to comment!
Who should be allowed to participate in intergovernmental organizations? There is a growing debate about the increasing opening of IGOs for nonstate actors. Explanations of this phenomenon either highlight the functional benefits of opening, or the need of opening to maintain or increase organizational legitimacy. This article analyzes how German diplomatic talk frames nonstate participation and refers to functionality or legitimacy when justifying the opening of IGOs. The perspective of diplomats, the main gatekeepers of change in IGOs, has rarely been considered for analysis. This article argues that German diplomatic discourse about opening is mainly functional. There is only limited reference to nonstate participation as an element of IGO legitimacy. Further, there are elements in German diplomatic talk that challenge the legitimacy of nonstate actors.