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date: 20 April 2019

Summary and Keywords

International nongovernmental organizations (INGOs) are growing in both numbers and influence around the world. INGOs range wildly in scope, size, membership, and home location. Examples of INGOs include Greenpeace, Human Rights Watch, and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF; also known as Doctors Without Borders). INGOs have increasingly been involved in the policymaking and the policy process. Domestically, INGOs have access to policymakers and work to influence policy through lobbying efforts and information campaigns. Internationally, INGOs often work with intergovernmental organizations and donor agencies and can have tremendous sway in certain policy domains. Recent works have linked INGO efforts to changes in trade and investment patterns and decisions about humanitarian interventions, economic sanctions, and aid allocation.

INGOs are defined and situated in the international system. The causal mechanisms connecting INGO activities to foreign policy decisions and decision-making are outlined and situated into the larger theoretical literature on foreign policy. The ways in which INGOs have been impacted by foreign policy decisions are explored, especially recent efforts by states to limit the work of foreign INGOs within their borders. There is a need for further research and data collection on INGOs and for more work on how INGOs interact with other actors in the foreign policy arena.

Keywords: INGOs, nongovernmental organizations, close space, foreign policy, international organizations, shaming

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