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NGOs, the UN, and Global Governance

Thomas G. Weiss and Leon Gordenker, editors
ISBN: 978-1-55587-626-5
1996/250 pages/LC: 96-411
Emerging Global Issues

"A rich discussion of how NGO’s act to influence or redefine global governance.'"—Perspectives on Political Science

"Analyzes how NGOs have discharged their mandates in a way that has positively influenced United Nations crisis management . . . a good general 'reader' for any course with a significant International Organizations component."—Interest Group on the UN Decade of International Law Newsletter


A comprehensive exploration of the role of nongovernmental organizations in the international arena, this collection examines the full range of NGO relationships and actions.

The authors first outline the aims and scope of NGOs and suggest a systematic way of thinking about their activities. These conceptual notions underlie Part 2 of the book, five case studies focusing on NGOs vis-a-vis critical issues in contemporary world politics: AIDS, the environment, human rights, humanitarian relief, and women in development.

In Part 3, the authors concentrate on themes that cut across NGO activities in the realms of education, advocacy, and operations. They conclude with their proposal for an alternative division of responsibilities and labor between intergovernmental and nongovernmental actors, a vision in keeping with the complex mosaic of global governance.


Thomas G. Weiss is Presidential Professor of Political Science at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Leon Gordenker is professor emeritus of politics and faculty associate of the Center of International Studies at Princeton University.


  • Foreword—Boutros Boutros-Ghali.
  • Pluralizing Global Governance: Analytical Approaches and Dimensions—the Editors.
  • Reality Check: Human Rights NGOs Confront Governments at the UN—F.D. Gaer.
  • NGOs and the UN System in Complex Humanitarian Emergencies:Conflict or Cooperation?—A.S. Natsios.
  • The Bureaucracy and the Free Spirits: Stagnation and Innovation in the Relationship Between the UN and NGOs—A. Donini.
  • Greening the UN: Environmental Organizations and the UN System—K. Conca.
  • IGO-NGO Relations and HIV/AIDS: Innovation or Stalemate?—C. Jonsson and P. Soderholm.
  • Engendering World Conferences: The International Women's Movement and the UN—M.A. Chen.
  • Scaling Up the Grassroots and Scaling Down the Summit: The Relations Between Third World NGOs and the UN—P. Uvin.
  • Coordinate? Cooperate? Harmonize? NGO Policy and Operational Coalitions—C. Ritchie.
  • Partners in Development? The State, NGOs, and the UN in Central America—P. Sollis.
  • NGO Participation in the International Policy Process—the Editors.
  • Annotated Bibliography.