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Non-state actors and international organizations: public pressure, lobbying and policy-making


Admission requirements

Students of the Master Public Administration can take this course.


This course introduces the various ways in which non-state actors engage with international organizations. Non-state actors include businesses (e.g. Shell, ING, Wal-Mart), NGOs in the field of development, human rights and environment (like Oxfam, Amnesty, Greenpeace), labour organizations (such as the European Trade Union Confederation) and scientists (such as climate change specialists). International organizations include amongst others the United Nations institutions, the World Trade Organization and the Bretton Woods institutions. The course focuses on the lobbying efforts, campaigning and public pressure practices of these actors, and investigates the policy-making roles of these non-state actors in global governance.
The course is based on two core premises. First, engagement between non-state actors and international organizations is a two-way street. Non-state actors seek influence within international organizations to advance their interests. At the same time, international organizations seek the support of non-state actors to advance their own agendas more efficiently and/or to add a degree of legitimacy to their demands. Second, in a multi-level governance world, non-state actors have to priortise certain levels of governance when trying to influence policy-makers, and international organizations are but one of the levels which they can focus on.
Accordingly, the course focuses on the following set of analytical questions: How and why do non-state actors adopt particular influencing strategies towards international organizations? How can we measure the effectiveness of these various strategies? How and why do international organizations include particular non-state actors in policy-making and governance? What is the consequence of this for the legitimacy of global policy-making? How and why do non-state actors choose between different forms of cross-border governance in order to advance their interests?

Course objectives

  • To familiarize students with the evolving shape of global governance

  • To provide students with an overview of contemporary research on non-state actor engagement with international organizations

  • To provide insight in the evolution, effectiveness and legitimacy of contemporary engagement of non-state actors with international organizations

  • To learn to reflect critically and write academically on various non-state actor strategies towards international organizations

  • To further develop skills with regard to substantive discussion of issues of global governance and interest group strategies and develop and defend informed positions with regard to academically and societally relevant questions regarding the involvement of non-state actors in global governance


The (provisional) timetable is on the first page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

Lectures and group discussions

Assessment method

Take home exam (35% of final grade), research paper (55%) and class participation (10%).


Instructor uses Blackboard. This page is available a week before the course commences.

Reading list

Selected articles and internet sources. Available a week before the course commences



Contact information

Dr. Tine Destrooper:


Readings for the first session will be made available on blackboard before the start of the course.