Transnational advocacy and domestic law: International NGOs and the design of freedom of information laws
- 628 Downloads
Can international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) influence domestic policy? This paper offers new quantitative evidence of the impact of INGOs in one specific policy area—Freedom of Information (FOI) laws—as well as highlighting an under-studied mechanism of INGO influence on the design of domestic laws. I test this argument by examining the effect of legal analyses of draft FOI legislation published by the INGO Article 19. These analyses provide expert legal assessments and make normative evaluations—both information politics and symbolic politics. I find that in countries in which Article 19 conducted legal analyses, the design of the subsequently passed FOI laws was significantly stronger than in countries that were not subject to such analyses. I demonstrate that this finding is not an artifact of Article 19’s selection process. I also present suggestive evidence that highlights symbolic politics, not information politics, as the more salient mechanism. Finally, I examine the process of FOI drafting and adoption in Serbia to illustrate the argument and specific mechanisms at work.
KeywordsInternational NGOs Transnational advocacy Freedom of information Transparency Policy design
The author wishes to thank Katherine Banks, Tanja Börzel, James Caporaso, Kendra Dupuy, Aseem Prakash, Thomas Risse, Kathryn Sikkink, Joannie Tremblay-Boire, and the editor and anonymous referees for helpful feedback and comments. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2012 International Studies Association Annual Convention in San Diego, CA. This article results in part from research conducted at the Kolleg-Forschergruppe (KFG) “The Transformative Power of Europe” hosted at the Freie Universität Berlin, as well as from research supported by the University of Washington European Union Center of Excellence.
This study was supported by the University of Washington European Union Center of Excellence, and the Kolleg-Forschergruppe (KFG) “The Transformative Power of Europe” hosted at Freie Universität Berlin.
Interviews were conducted according to Exempt Status Determination #42082, University of Washington Human Subjects Division.
Conflict of Interest
The author declares that they have no conflict of interest.
- Ackerman, J., & Sandoval-Ballesteros, I. (2006). The global explosion of freedom of information laws. Administrative Law Review, 58(1), 85–130.Google Scholar
- Article 19. (2003a). Annual review – July 2003. Available at: http://www.article19.org/data/files/annual_reports_and_accounts/2003-annual-report.pdf.
- Article 19. (2003b). Updated briefing note on the Serbian draft Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance (as amended). Available at: http://www.article19.org/data/files/pdfs/analysis/serbia.foi.b.03.pdf.
- Article 19. (2004). Annual review 2004. Available at: http://www.article19.org/data/files/annual_reports_and_accounts/2004-annual-report.pdf.
- Banisar, D. (2006). Freedom of information around the world 2006: A global survey of access to government information laws. Privacy International.Google Scholar
- Beck, T., Demirguc-Kunt, A., & Levine, R. (2000). Law, politics, and finance. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
- Bell, S. R., Tavishi, B., Clay, K. C., & Murdie, A. (2014). Taking the fight to them: neighborhood human rights organizations and domestic protest. British Journal of Political Science, 44(4), 853–875.Google Scholar
- Bell, S. R., Clay, K. C., & Murdie, A. (2012). Neighborhood watch: spatial effects of human rights INGOs. The Journal of Politics, 74(2), 354–368.Google Scholar
- Centre for Law and Democracy. (2011). Global RTI rating. Available at: http://www.law-democracy.org/?page_id=1003.
- Charnovitz, S. (2006). Nongovernmental organizations and international law. American Journal of International Law, 100(2), 348–372.Google Scholar
- Dezalay, Y., & Garth, B. G. (Eds.). (2002). Global prescriptions: The production, exportation, and importation of a new legal orthodoxy. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
- Fagan, A. (2010). Europe’s Balkan dilemma: Paths to civil society or state-building? London: I.B. Tauris.Google Scholar
- Florini, A. (2000). The third force: The rise of transnational civil society. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press.Google Scholar
- Florini, A. (2007). The right to know: Transparency for an open world. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
- Freedom House. (2004). Nations in transit: Serbia and Montenegro. Available at: https://freedomhouse.org/report/nations-transit/2004/serbia-and-montenegro.
- Global Integrity. (2007). Global integrity scorecard: Germany. Available at: http://report.globalintegrity.org/reportPDFS/2007/Germany.pdf.
- Gourevitch, P. A., Lake, D. A., & Stein, J. G. (Eds.). (2012). The credibility of transnational NGOs: When virtue is not enough. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Keck, M. E., & Sikkink, K. (1998). Activists beyond borders: Advocacy networks in international politics. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
- Langer, M. (2004). From legal transplants to legal translations: the globalization of plea bargaining and the americanization thesis in criminal procedure. Harvard International Law Journal, 45, 1.Google Scholar
- Lilić, S. & Milenković, D. (2004). Campaign for the adoption on the Law on Free Access to Information: Chronological overview of activities. In S. Lilić, & D. Milenković (Eds.) Free access to information. Belgrade, Serbia: Lawyers Committee for Human Rights. 121–131.Google Scholar
- McClean, T. (2011). Institutions and transparency: Where does Freedom of information work best?” Paper presented at the 1st Global Conference on Transparency Research, Rutgers University, Newark, NJ. May 19–20, 2011.Google Scholar
- Mendel, T. (2009). The Right to information in Latin America: A comparative legal survey. UNESCO.Google Scholar
- Michener, G. (2010). The surrender of secrecy: explaining the emergence of strong access to information laws in Latin America. Dissertation. University of Texas, Austin.Google Scholar
- Michener, G. (2011). FOI laws around the world. Journal of Democracy, 22(2).Google Scholar
- Michener, G. (2005b). Assessing Freedom of Information in Latin America a Decade Later: Illuminating a Transparency Causal Mechanism. Latin American Politics and Society. doi: 10.1111/j.1548-2456.2015.00275.x.
- Otvoreni Parlament. (2004). Transcripts and calendar of parliamentary sessions: October 26, 2004. Available at: http://www.otvoreniparlament.rs/2004/10/26.
- Peisakhin, L., & Pinto, P. (2010). Is transparency an effective anti‐corruption strategy? Evidence from a field experiment in India. Regulation & Governance, 4(3), 261–280.Google Scholar
- Pešić, V. (2007). State capture and widespread corruption in Serbia. CEPS Working Document No. 262. Centre for European Policy Studies.Google Scholar
- Puddephatt, A. (2009). Exploring the role of civil society in the formulation and adoption of access to information laws. Access to Information Working Paper Series. World Bank Institute.Google Scholar
- Serbia Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection. 2012. Report on Implementation of the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance and the Law on Personal Data Protection in 2011. Available at: http://www.poverenik.org.rs/images/stories/dokumentacija-nova/izvestajiPoverenika/2011/eng2011izvestajpoverenika.pdf.