EU AND CIVIL SOCIETY: THE CASE OF NGOs IN PEACE MISSIONS AND HUMANITARIAN INTERVENTION

By Irrera, Daniela | Romanian Journal of European Affairs, March 2010 | Go to article overview

EU AND CIVIL SOCIETY: THE CASE OF NGOs IN PEACE MISSIONS AND HUMANITARIAN INTERVENTION


Irrera, Daniela, Romanian Journal of European Affairs


Abstract**:

Social scientists and policy-makers are increasingly concerned with the civil society ability to influence the external policy of EU and the member states. This ability depends to a large extent on the capabilities and instruments of the nongovernmental-organizations (NGOs), national and international associations, and lobbies, which represent civil society interests. In order to represent the demands that cut across the borders of states, NGOs are increasingly gaining access to international decision-making institutions. However, this access continues to face with the controversial issue of the NGOs engagement in political participation, representation, and democratization of the decision-making processes of international organizations. This paper aims at analyzing the increasing engagement of NGOs, within and in relation with the EU, in the framework of CFSP/ESDP, and in responding to composite humanitarian emergencies.

Keywords: NGO, European Union, security, peace-keeping

JEL classification: Z19

The civil society capability to influence the external policy of the European Union (EU) is increasingly concerning the social scientists and policy-makers. This capability depends to a large extent on the role of non-governmentalorganizations (NGOs), national and international associations, and lobbies, which represent civil society interests. In order to represent the demands that cut across the states' borders, NGOs need suitable accession to decisionmaking institutions. This condition is linked to the general, and controversial, issue of the NGOs engagement in political participation, representation, and democratization of the decisionmaking processes of international organizations. As commonly known, the United Nations have reached the highest level of institutionalization of the dialogue with the civil society by delegating to ECOSOC the task to establishing a special procedure of NGOs recording, accreditation, and provision of consultative status. These practices constitute a consistent model which has been claimed for ruling the relationships with civil society also in other contexts, regional and local ones.

Regarding the European Union system, some other variables should be taken into account. The degree of involvement of the social parts is the litmus test of the level of integration from below, and the viable relationship between government and people. In other terms, the differentiated structure of the interests represented by the NGOs, the groups and the community- based organizations, as well as the increasing demand for wider popular participation in the civil matters, are imposing on the EU the need to overcome the model of consultation and develop a more effective and integrated system (Attinà - Natalicchi, 2007; Magnette 2003; Panebianco, 2000). NGOs, in particular, represent, among the others, interests pertaining to human development. In doing so, NGOs succeed in managing relations with various sectors in a sort of civil dialogue. Cooperation with neighbouring countries and the developing world is an excellent case study. By participating in the EU official programs, the European NGOs have promoted many initiatives on humanitarian aid, especially in Africa (Ryelandt, 1995). This constituted a good starting point for the increased NGOs' engagement in the field of conflict prevention and management, and a more active role in EU peace missions' deployment (Attinà, 2007).

This article aims at analyzing the increasing engagement of NGOs, within and in relation with the EU, in the framework of CFSP/ESDP, and in responding to composite humanitarian emergencies.

In the first part, the evolution of the role played by the main civil society actors is analyzed by taking into account the evolutionary phases of the European political and economic integration process, and the theory debate. Relationships between NGOs and the EU institutions that are competent in the fields of security and foreign policy as well as humanitarian intervention are analyzed. …

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