Journal of Public Health Policy

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 74–87 | Cite as

Beyond idealism and realism: Canadian NGO/government relations during the negotiation of the FCTC

  • Raphael LencuchaEmail author
  • Ronald Labonté
  • Michael J Rouse
Original Article


The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) marks a unique point in the history of global health governance. This convention produced the first legally binding treaty under the auspices of the World Health Organization. Another first was the extent to which non-governmental organizations (NGOs) participated in the negotiation process. This article explores the relationship between one group of NGOs and their respective government during the negotiation of the FCTC. Documentary analyses and 18 individual in-depth interviews were conducted with both government and NGO representatives. In contrast to the polar perspectives of idealism (NGOs as unique and autonomous) and realism (NGOs as funded arms of the government), our findings suggest that neither opposition nor conformity on the part of the NGOs characterize the relationship between the NGOs and government. While specific to the case under study (the FCTC), our findings nonetheless indicate the need for a nuanced view of the relationship between governments and NGOs, at least during the process of multilateral health policy negotiations.


government–NGO relations global health governance international negotiations public health policy framework convention on tobacco control 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Raphael Lencucha
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ronald Labonté
    • 1
  • Michael J Rouse
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Population Health, University of OttawaOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Richard Ivey School of Business, University of Western OntarioLondonCanada

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