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The Voice of Which People? Transnational Advocacy Networks and Governance Networks at the United Nations

Willetts, P. (2013). The Voice of Which People? Transnational Advocacy Networks and Governance Networks at the United Nations (CUTP010). London, UK: Department of International Politics, City University London, ISSN 2052-1898.


We can expand our understanding of the politics of global networks and how they relate to the United Nations, by closely examining the concept of a network. There is a long-established International Relations literature focusing on the more institutionalised, international non-governmental organisations. Keck and Sikkink have drawn on the Sociology literature covering social movements in global politics to discuss transnational advocacy networks. It is also necessary to distinguish a third major category: governance networks. They operate to enhance the participation rights of NGOs in intergovernmental organisations. Differences in membership and functions of the two types of networks can be clearly specified analytically, but real-world networks may have some features from each ideal-type. However, if the distinction between them is not understood and respected by those participating in a network, there can be major political conflicts that threaten the legitimacy of the network. Three case-studies – on the NGO Steering Committee at the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, on the World Conference Against Racism and on the World Summit on Sustainable Development – are used to demonstrate how crises can arise when the fundamental contradictions between engaging in collective advocacy and adopting a governance role are not recognised.

Publication Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Additional Information: © 2013 Peter Willetts
Publisher Keywords: non-governmental organisations, non-governmental organizations, NGOs, advocacy networks, governance networks, transnational, Willets
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > International Politics > Working Papers on Transnational Politics
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