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NGOs’ Role In Public Diplomacy ( K.S)

                  NGOs’ Role In Public Diplomacy 
                                  By K.S 

Paris Peace Conference of 1919.
Delegations are gathering at the Palace of Versailles,
 France.  1919. ( Wiki, source).

NGOs’ public diplomacy emerged from the ashes of the First World War, when the ‘old diplomacy’ suffered a huge reputational blow.  In 1919, over  1040 delegates from 32 countries, including NGOs and other non – state actors met at the Paris Peace Conference in order to reach a compromise on the conditions of peace in Europe. Despite the fact that  during the Paris conference most important decisions made by “The Big Four’ (Leaders of the US, UK, France, and Italy), an invention of NGOS at the Paris Peace Conference was the key feature of new – open diplomacy.  Roeder and Simard argued that NGOs have been at the heart of important negotiations and diplomacy since the 19 century'. A good historical example of NGO to government negotiations in an environment of high drama happened in 1919 when the German Society for International Law (Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Volkerrecht) formed from the ashes of the great war. It consulted directly with the German government, asking then to agree to the NGOs draft convention to the soon to be created League Nations. The German Society for International Law took that text to the Paris Peace Conference and tried to convince the American delegation and others to agree (Larry W. Roeder and Albert Simard, 2013, page 1- 3).  After the WWI, an important aspect of the changing content of diplomacy was demonstrated by the growth in the number of NGOs and other non – state actors.  NGOs are not governments; they are independent, extra – non – governmental bodies often with an international agenda.  As Baggot argue NGOs constitute what is often termed ‘civil’ or ‘pluralist’ society   an organised society outside of government control’’ (Baggott, page 33). However, NGOs are at the diplomatic table with governments and international organizations such as UN and EU, and placing their own words into the important documents of the history of diplomacy, UN resolutions and the environment and the economic agreements.  NGOs aims to exercise influence. There are Insider and Outsider NGOs.  Insider NGOs,  have high degree of influence and outsiders have little or no influence. For example, the anti-nuclear group – Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Animal Liberation Front (ALF) have little influence on decision – making process.  Insider NGOs have acquired useful and valuable experience and knowledge of the decision – making process.  Mainly NGOs concentrate their resources and energies on central governments. Direct contact with ministers are very important for NGOS as well because as Richardson has put it ‘it is much better to know the man who drafts the letter than the man who signs it’ ‘( Richardson, page 87).  Nowadays, NGOs are seen as more trusted and objective organisations. As Joseph Nye  has pointed out’’ post-modern publics are generally sceptical of governments are often mistrusted. Thus it often behoves governments to keep in the background and to work  with private actors (NGOs)’’ (Nye, 2010).

After the end of the Cold War, Environmental public diplomacy has increased. In the course of the evolution of environmental diplomacy, NGOs have developed interests and programs. NGOs play a crucial part in environmental public diplomacy, because the multilateral organizations gave to NGO’s more power to influence and shape decision making process.  For example, the European Union and the United Nations are the most open multilateral organizations to environmental groups. They are open to the influence of NGOs, because their knowledge and access helps leaders to implement more powerful policies.

The first high – level global conference to discuss environmental policies was held in Stockholm in 1972.  An important influence on the development of environmental diplomacy, apart from the Stockholm Conference was the convening of the third United Nations Conference on the Law Of The Sea in 1973.  During the 80s the major disasters such as Chernobyl Disaster and Exon Valdez have the effect of dramatising a problem, influencing call for the revision of international rules. NGOs have also played a vital   role to protect the environment at the United Nations’ Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED)-  ‘Earth Summit’ in 1992, where all states adopted “Agenda 21”.

After several of decades, NGOs had widened their tactics, while some NGOs downgraded climate campaigning altogether, others focused their fight against fossil fuels. The results have been remarkable. For example,  In 2015,  NGOs have created the historical moment, when the major UN Climate Change Conference COP21 held in Paris, where over 195 states agreed a plan for cutting GHG emissions and successfully reached Paris Climate Agreement. According to the Greenpeace, the Paris Agreement ”provides an opportunity to assess an ecological progress and prepare to be effective in the future” (Greenpeace, 5 Feb, 2016). Many NGOs including Greenpeace, Climate Change Advocacy Coordinator, CARE International, etc. have celebrated the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015 as a historical moment.

There is no doubt that today climate change is the serious threat to human health, rights and freedoms. However, the U. S. president Donald Trump still believes that ”climate change is a hoax .” In June 2017, President Trump announced the withdrawal of the US from the Paris Accord. In the face of growing uncertainty, especially after Trump’s ‘reckless’ withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, NGOs have to continue fight together with a global public in order to encourage the rest of the world including the two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases: the U. S. and China, to contribute! In doing so, we can build a safer future for the new generations.

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Sunday, 24 December 2017

Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year!!!!

Merry Christmas  & A Happy New Year!!!!



Photo by K.S . 2017