Beyond Cooperation and Competition: A Relational Approach to NGOs in Global Politics

Non-governmental organizations are a ubiquitous feature of global politics. Their role in global governance ranges from producing and promoting new norms to shaming and pressuring states, inter-governmental organizations and multi-national corporations to comply with norms and commitments to providing public goods and services ranging from healthcare to food assistance to technological and legal expertise. NGOs advocate for marginalized groups, fight to protect the environment, and raise the alarm about human rights abuses. Their unique role in global governance is well-recognized by academics and policymakers alike. Yet, the sources of their power are not yet well understood. This collective project, co-led by Maryam Deloffre (Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University) and Sigrid Quack (KHK/GCR21), seeks to demonstrate that NGO power, authority and legitimacy is not primarily constituted through material resources or endorsed by law, but rather through their relationships and interactions. The project develops a relational approach that allows to investigate processes and dynamics between NGOs and begins to shed light on how global governance occurs through NGOs and how NGOs fill governance gaps. The project group currently works on an edited volume that combine theoretical reflections with case studies from different empirical contexts, such as climate politics, counter-terrorism, humanitarian action, human rights, adopting a wide range of methods.

Keywords NGOs, global cooperation, transnational governance, organizing, networking, mobilizing, governing, employing