Civil Society Influence on International Organizations: Theorizing the State Channel

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Civil Society Influence on International Organizations: Theorizing the State Channel. / Pallas, Christopher L; Uhlin, Anders.

In: Journal of Civil Society, Vol. 10, No. 2, 2014, p. 1-20.

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TY - JOUR

T1 - Civil Society Influence on International Organizations: Theorizing the State Channel

AU - Pallas, Christopher L

AU - Uhlin, Anders

PY - 2014

Y1 - 2014

N2 - The literature on transnational civil society tends to treat civil society organizations CSOs) as independent actors, accomplishing policy change largely through moral force or popular pressure. However, a significant portion of CSO successes in policy advocacy actually utilizes alliances with state actors. To understand the implications of this ‘state channel’ of CSO influence, we develop a new model of CSO use of state influence. We identify four factors that determine whether the state channel is accessible for CSOs to use and is likely to produce more effective CSO influence than direct CSO engagement with the international organization (IO): the porousness of the targeted states and IOs, the availability of contacts, the possibility for alignment of interests, and the relative power of aligned state and IO contacts. We illustrate this theory using four case studies of civil society engagement: two case studies involving the World Bank and two involving the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Our analysis suggests that the factors determining CSOs’ successful use of the state channel currently tend to favour a small number of well-resourced, reformist CSOs from porous and powerful states.

AB - The literature on transnational civil society tends to treat civil society organizations CSOs) as independent actors, accomplishing policy change largely through moral force or popular pressure. However, a significant portion of CSO successes in policy advocacy actually utilizes alliances with state actors. To understand the implications of this ‘state channel’ of CSO influence, we develop a new model of CSO use of state influence. We identify four factors that determine whether the state channel is accessible for CSOs to use and is likely to produce more effective CSO influence than direct CSO engagement with the international organization (IO): the porousness of the targeted states and IOs, the availability of contacts, the possibility for alignment of interests, and the relative power of aligned state and IO contacts. We illustrate this theory using four case studies of civil society engagement: two case studies involving the World Bank and two involving the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Our analysis suggests that the factors determining CSOs’ successful use of the state channel currently tend to favour a small number of well-resourced, reformist CSOs from porous and powerful states.

KW - Civil society organizations

KW - states

KW - international organizations

KW - global governance

KW - democracy

KW - policy-making

KW - advocacy

KW - World Bank

KW - ASEAN

M3 - Article

VL - 10

SP - 1

EP - 20

JO - Journal of Civil Society

T2 - Journal of Civil Society

JF - Journal of Civil Society

SN - 1744-8689

IS - 2

ER -