What is it about?

How are negotiations inside International Organizations (IOs) affected by the opening of global governance processes to Non-State Actors – NGOs, corporations, or philanthropic foundations? That is what this article tries to understand by looking at the World Health Organization (WHO), an organization under the spotlight because of the Covid-19 pandemic, and with a rich and long history of dealing with ‘Non-State Actors’ since its creation in 1948.

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Why is it important?

International intergovernmental Organizations (IOs), such as the World Health Organization (WHO), are associations of States, which create a permanent administrative structure – the Secretariat – to pursue common interests. Negotiations are part of the daily life of these organizations, whether it is to negotiate a treaty, approve a budget, a program of work, or administrative procedures. Since the 1990s, IOs have adapted to the growing participation of NGOs, corporations, or philanthropic foundations. The Gates Foundation has become the 2nd largest contributor to the WHO budget for example. These ‘Non-State Actors’ nowadays play a role in negotiations inside IOs, alongside Member States and the Secretariat. But to what extent? How do Member States and IOs Secretariats adapt to this situation? This article uncovers these dynamics by analyzing the negotiation of a Framework of Engagement with Non-State Actors (FENSA) at the WHO in 2016 and advocates for the development of a triangular, multi-voice negotiation model within IOs.


I hope this article can highlight the relevance to study the negotiations of administrative procedures. Negotiations of texts with policy-related content are more often analyzed, as they are considered the core work, the ‘output’ of International Organizations (IOs). But paying attention to the negotiation of managerial texts, of IOs working procedures, is also crucial to their understanding and to build IOs legitimacy. I thus hope this article can encourage further research on that topic.

Auriane Guilbaud
University Paris 8

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Negotiating the Opening of International Organizations to Non-State Actors: The Case of the World Health Organization, International Negotiation, February 2023, Brill, DOI: 10.1163/15718069-bja10087.
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