Comprehensive exam review

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Political Science
Professor Bernstein

Pol208 Exam Review 2. What are the role/ place of NGOs in the International System? - Nongovernmental organizations are private associations of individuals or groups that engage in political, economic, or social activities usually across national borders usually to achieve a common purpose. - In nongovernmental organizations, the members arent states unlike intergovernmental organizations where the members are states. - NGOs have increased in numbers in the international system and are able to mobilize the mass public and influence international relations. - A number of factors have sparked the resurgence of NGO activity and their increased power as an actor in international politics o First, the issues seized by NGOs have been increasingly viewed as interdependent or globalizing issues issues states cannot solve alone and whose solutions require transnational and intergovernmental cooperation. o Second, global conferences became a venue for international activity each designed to tackle a specific issue, a pattern emerged that NGOs organize separate but parallel conferences on the same issues, this allowed them to network with other NGOs on the same issues, and also it allowed them to form coalitions on specific issues to lobby governments and international bureaucrats o Third, the ending of the Cold War and the expansion of democracy in both the former communist world and developing countries have provided political openings for NGOs into parts of the world untouched by NGO activity - NGOs act as advocates for specific policies and offer alternative channels of political participation - NGOs mobilize mass publics, ex. Greenpeace saving whales through international laws limiting whaling - NGOs distribute critical assistance in disaster relief and to refugees, they are the principal monitors of human rights norms and environmental regulations and provide warnings of violations - They are the primary actors at the grassroots level in mobilizing individuals to act - By publicizing inadequacies by governments and other actors NGOs force discussion both within states and between states in international forums - NGOs play a unique role at the national level, as they sometimes take the place of states, either by performing services that an inept or corrupt government is not doing or stepping in for a failed state - NGOs have assumed responsibility in education, health, agriculture, and microcredit, which were originally all government functions o Ex. The failed state of Somalia has witnessed an explosion of NGO activity, performing vital economic functions that the government is ill equipped to handle, commentators suggest that Somalia has governance without a government - NGOs seldom work alone as the communications revolution has allowed them to network and mobilize easier together, and are developing regional and global networks through linkages with other NGOs - We usually associate NGOs with humanitarian and environmental groups working for a greater, social, economic, or political good, but NGOs may also be formed for malevolent purposes, such as Al Qaeda - The power of NGOs rely on soft power, meaning credible information, expertise, and moral authority that attracts attention and admiration of governments and the public which means that they have the resources such as flexibility to move staff rapidly depending on the need, independent donor bases, and links with grassroots groups that enable them to operate in different areas of the world - NGOs have distinct advantages over individuals, states, and intergovernmental organizations, because they are usually politically independent from any sovereign state, so they can make and execute international policy more rapidly and directly, and with less risk to national sensitivities, than IGOs can - They can participate at all levels, from policy formation and decision making to implementation in they choose - They can influence state behavior by initiating formal, legally binding action; pressuring authorities to impose sanctions; carrying out independent investigations; and linking issues together in ways that force some measure of compliance - NGOs lack traditional forms of power, which means that they do not have military or police forces as governments do and thus they cannot command obedience through physical means - NGOs have very limited economic resources, thus the competition for funding is fierce, for example human rights organizations often compete for the same donors - If NGOs accept state funding then their neutrality and legitimacy is compromised, they may be forced to report their successes in order to renew finances, thus there is a competitive scramble among NGOs for resources 4 & 6. How do IR theorists see IGOs, NGOs, and International Law? Realist views of International Organizations and Law - Realists are skeptical about international law, intergovernmental organizations, and nongovernmental organizations, though they dont completely discount their place - Realists contend that compliance to international law norms not because the norms are good and just in themselves but because it is in the states self interest to comply - States benefit from living in an ordered world, where there are some expectations about other states behavior because it is in the best interest of the state to have the ability to navigate international waters, and enjoy secure procedures of diplomatic relations and international trade - Realists are skeptical and IGOs and NGOs as independent actors because IGOs are controlled by states, and states often prefer weak organizations o Ex. Realists do not have much faith in the UN, as they can legitimately point to the Cold War era, when the Security Council proved impotent in addressing the conflict between the US and Soviet Union - In the state centric world of realists, NGOs are generally not on the radar screen at all because most NGOs exist at the call of states; it is the states that grant them legal authority, and it is states that can take away that authority, and to realists NGOs are not an independent actor - States are reluctant to use international law and international organizations because they are unsure if they will function as planned, they are skeptical if long term gains can be achieved, and essentially believe states will refuse to rely on the collectivity for the protection of individual national rights Radical view of International Organizations and Law - Radicals are also skeptical about IGOs, NGOs, and international law as they see contemporary international law and organizations as the product of a specific time and historical process emerging from eighteenth century liberalism - International law primarily comes from western capitalist sates and is designed to serve the interests of that constituency, and international law is biased against the interests of socialist states, the weak, and the unrepresented - IGOs most notably the League of Nations, the UN, were designed to support the interests of the powerful, and have succeeded in sustaining the powerful elite against the powerless mass of weaker states o Ex. The UN imposed sanctions and the US invasion of Iraq following their invasion of Kuwait was to serve the policies of the west and the USs capitalist friends in the international petroleum industry - Radicals see the world of NGOs based in the North as dominated by members of the same elite who run the state and international organizations, they see NGOs as falling under the power of the capitalist economic system and as captive to the dominant interests of that system Constructivist view of international organizations and law - Constructivists place critical importance on institutions and norms - Both IGOs and NGOs can be norm entrepreneurs that socialize and teach states new norms, which can change state preferences, which in turn may influence state behavior - Acknowledge that new international institutions have been developing at a rapid rate and are taking on more tasks but warn that with such international authority, they might become dysfunctional, serving the interests of international bureaucrats - Laws play a key role for constructivists because it reflects changing norms - A number of key norms are of particular interests to constructivists o Multilateralism; the practice of joining with others in making decisions. Occurring outside and within formal organizations, participants learn other norms, including the emerging prohibition against the use of nuclear weapons, and the increasing norms and attention to human rights Contending Perspectives on International Organizations and Law Liberalism/Neoliberal Realism/ Neoreali
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