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The Legal Status of International Non-Governmental Organizations

Analysis of Past and Present Initiatives (1912-2012)

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Rephael Harel Ben-Ari

The discourse regarding the legal status of international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) is not new; in fact, it has already progressed throughout the last 100 years. However, most of the proposals to grant official status to INGOs, or to otherwise regulate their cross-border activity, are relatively unknown to international lawyers. A perusal of these initiatives against their unique historical background will prove highly significant in dissecting the complexities involved in formulating a comprehensive scheme for the regulation of INGOs. Innovatively, this work outlines and evaluates the sequence of attempts to propose a formal status for INGOs. It demonstrates how this historical contextual analysis provides an invaluable perspective that is essential for the informed review of contemporary schemes and theoretical trends, relevant to the consideration of the status of INGOs. Unfortunately, most contemporary writers and activists who deal with the normative aspects of INGO activity neglect this crucial perspective.

Rephael Harel Ben-Ari

The activities of International Non-Governmental Organizations give rise to multifaceted questions of legality and legitimacy. The normative position of INGOs within the 'international community' has proved to be acutely controversial, demanding a fundamental reconsideration of the concepts of the nation-state and of international organizations of all kinds. There is manifestly a crying need for a comprehensive framework against which the capacity of international law to comprehend these complex issues can be measured. This book explores contemporary approaches towards INGOs, those based on criticism of the doctrine of international legal personality as well as those adopting a functional-constitutional perspective. It engages in a stimulating and thorough interdisciplinary evaluation of the theoretical and practical potential of these theories to generate solutions for the problems produced by the exercise of unregulated authority outside the state-system. The book investigates the main concepts put forward by international lawyers within 'postmodern' discourse, among them 'global civil society', 'globalization' and 'governance', and examines their consistency with existing institutional arrangements, and the century-old attempts to standardize the status of INGOs.