chapter  14
Consultative and observer status of NGOs in intergovernmental organizations
ByFelicity A. Vabulas
Pages 14

International Relations (IR) scholars and the public have come to understand intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) as cooperative endeavors between member-states (Keohane 1984; Abbott and Snidal 1998; Koremenos et al. 2001; Barnett and Finnemore 2004; Pevehouse et al. 2004). 1 In other words, when we study IGOs, we usually focus on the bargaining, negotiation, and enforcement activities between states, the key actors in IR. However, this narrow concept of who comprises IGOs misses the rise in importance of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and their increased participation in these international entities. 2

Intergovernmental organizations are no longer just forums for inter-state collective action but instead, a large number of IGOs now formalize some sort of consultative or observer status with NGOs, giving them varying degrees of access to IGO meetings, policy research, negotiations, project implementation, and enforcement efforts. This chapter addresses when and why IGOs grant consultative and observer status to NGOs. It will fi rst highlight why this phenomenon is important to IR scholarship, then overview the growing trend of IGOs granting consultative or observer status to NGOs. It will then evaluate how these partnerships vary across entities and issue areas, both by looking at a few small case studies and summarizing an original data set, and last, discuss some of the theoretical explanations for how IGO member-states and NGOs both benefi t from the relationships.