International Policy Partnerships with Civil Society: Risks and Opportunities
Raffaele Marchetti Introduction
A noteworthy feature of today’s global governance is the interaction between public institutions and private organizations, with the latter including a significant number of civil society organizations. Cooperation between intergovernmental and civil society organizations (CSOs) takes many forms, including multi-stakeholder initiatives, private-public partnerships (PPPs), sub-contracting, political alliances, hybrid coalitions, multi-sectoral networks, pluralist co-governance, and even foreign policy by proxy. The term civil society organizations is widely used and commonly refers to different types of organization including community groups, non-governmental organizations
This publication derives from a three-year-long Jean Monnet Module on EVs Engagement with Civil Society and its final conference held at LUISS in Rome in May 2015. Many thanks to all those who took part in the lively debates. Financial contribution for this project was provided by EACEA (529096-LLP-1-2012-1- IT-529096-AJMMO), by the US Department of State via its Embassy in Rome (S-IT700-15-GR-016), by the LUISS Department of Political Science, and the LUISS School of Government.
R. Marchetti (*)
© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2017 3
R. Marchetti (ed.), Partnerships in International Policy-Making, International Series on Public Policy,
(NGOs), social movements, labour unions, indigenous groups, charitable organizations, faith-based organizations, media operators, academia, diaspora groups, lobby and consultancy groups, think tanks and research centres, experts, professional associations, and foundations.1 Both international organizations and states have developed close relationships with civil society organizations for reasons of effectiveness and legitimacy. CSOs are in fact usually expected to provide expertise, capacity to deliver and public credibility. While government-to-government relationships are still very important, it is clear that a player who does not take into account the different components of civil society is bound to fail, or at least to have a harder time pursuing its goals (Marchetti 2016a). As Salamon aptly put it some years ago: ‘The proliferation of these groups may be permanently altering the relationship between states and citizenship, with an impact extending far beyond the material services they provide’ (Salamon 1994, 109). More recently, Naim incisively confirmed this interpretation (Naim 2013).
The interaction between public institutions and civil societies in international affairs occurs both multilaterally (usually in the form of multistakeholder partnerships) and bilaterally (i.e. government-to-CSOs). Multilaterally, the hybrid interaction among actors of different kinds has played a constant role in international policy-making, not only in setting agendas but also in deciding, implementing, monitoring and evaluating policy. These actors may be external, such as lobbyists, but may also be consultants, experts, partners, protesters, even rebels. Moreover, there are also instances in which this interaction has become institutionalized: consider the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Committee on Food Security, or Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), in which institutional reforms were approved, granting to CSOs a permanent role in the decision-making process of these bodies. This kind of hybrid partnership was considered the functional response to the shortcomings of intergovernmental politics. Bilaterally, too, the governmental engagement with CSOs in international affairs has been growing steadily in the last few decades. It began with the subcontracting of development aid to NGOs, and was then generalized with the new public management turn in the 1980s. In the 1990s the partnership with civil societies became institutionalized in many democracy-promotion policies. Finally, with the new millennium, the collaboration with CSOs diversified in almost all policy fields in more or less transparent ways.
In this book, two axes of such hybrid partnership are examined: global policy-making and European Union (UN) policy-making.2 Putting the two together is justified by the fact that their dynamics share many characteristics. The various chapters highlight commonalities as well as differences in these levels of analysis and policy fields. Thus the reader will be able to identify a typology of issue areas—that is, to understand in which issue areas partnerships with civil societies are more successful and, of course, in which issue areas that sort of collective action is hindered by the structure/dynamics of the issue area itself.
Three clarifications as to the boundaries of the present collection are needed before moving on. First, we look at the cooperative dimension of the international policy process, given that many studies concerning the relationship between international organizations (IOs) and CSOs have tended to see the process as one of rivalry and dispute in the form of contentious politics (Imig and Tarrow 2001; Tarrow 1994; Uhlin and Kalm 2015). Second, we look at forms of interaction designed to pursue public goods. This means that forms of cooperation aiming at public ills, such as criminal networks or covert operations creating public disutility, are excluded (Heine and Thakur 2011). Third, we look at forms of interaction between public institutions and civil societies that are not aimed at profit. For-profit actors are mostly excluded (Nelson 2002), though in a number of chapters they are taken into secondary account. These research boundaries do not have an absolute value—that is, they are determined by practicality and feasibility. A thoroughgoing research into hybrid partnerships in global governance should ideally include them, but this was not possible here.
As the book will show, the discussion concerning the value of public institutions-civil society partnerships is both underdeveloped and polarized. Indeed, the phenomenon is recent. Research is still at an early stage and randomly located among different specific sectors. These include security, aid and development, public policy, global governance, contentious politics, democratization, human rights and democracy promotion, religious mobilizations and public diplomacy. Perhaps because of this fragmentation and limited development the debate on hybrid partnerships in global governance is highly controversial. With this book, we hope to contribute by introducing new empirical analyses and new interpretations that may help to develop the debate.