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Bridging the democratic gap: Can NGOs link local communities to international environmental institutions?

Dombrowski, Kathrin Irma (2013) Bridging the democratic gap: Can NGOs link local communities to international environmental institutions? PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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How can NGOs contribute to strengthening the democratic legitimacy of international intergovernmental institutions? The thesis pursues two lines of enquiry in order to contribute to this discussion in the context of global environmental politics: it looks at the external claims and internal practices of NGOs. With regards to external claims the thesis investigates the democratic demands formulated by the NGO communities interacting with the UNFCCC and the CBD respectively. Demands for equitable representation at the intergovernmental level and for participation by civil society stakeholders are especially prominent among the NGOs engaged with the climate convention. The thesis finds a convergence around very similar democratic demands across the NGO community, most of which draw upon recurrent governance norms and existing instances of good practice within environmental institutions. The thesis then turns to the internal practices of large international environmental NGOs to test the assumption that these organisations have the potential to act as “links” or as “transmission belts” between local communities and global policymaking processes. It proposes the adoption of a representation perspective for analysing the contribution of civil society organisations, and provides case studies of three large international environmental NGOs (WWF, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth) and of the two issue-­specific civil society networks that organise NGO activities around the two UN conventions referred to above (the Climate Action Network and the CBD Alliance). The thesis shows that the potential for large NGOs to ‘represent’ local communities is shaped by organisational structures, decision-­making processes, the strategy for bringing about change, funding sources, alliances and partnerships, and values. The findings underline the need to adopt a more differentiated understanding of the democratic contribution by civil society organisations to international intergovernmental institutions.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2013 Kathrin Irma Dombrowski
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Supervisor: Josselin, Daphné

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