State of the Art: Addressing the INGO ‘Legitimacy Deficit’
While the numbers and competencies of international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) have increased dramatically in the past few decades, questions have been raised about the legitimacy of their new activities. A number of scholars have identified significant tensions between INGOs’ legitimacy claims and the realities of their working practices. We examine the current state of the debate on INGO legitimacy in two contrasting literatures: normative work on global governance and its implications for the role of INGOs, and policy-oriented work on INGOs’ legitimacy. The first shows how INGO involvement in global governance opens the door to a range of alternative conceptions of world order, rooted in notions of universal human rights, democracy, and theories of redistributive justice. The latter set of voices is concerned less with locating INGOs’ roles as agents in global normative structures than with analysing concrete problems arising from increased INGO participation in the development process. Future research might take into account key questions concerning the sources and the scope and nature of INGO legitimacy.