J Michael Angstadt, Michele BetsillFrom: The Oxford Handbook of International Environmental Law (2nd Edition)
Edited By: Lavanya Rajamani, Jacqueline Peel
This chapter describes non-state actors (NSAs), which encompass a range of entities that collectively extend international environmental law beyond traditional state authority in numerous regimes. Characterized by considerable breadth and diversity, NSAs exist within the traditional, state-centric treaty architecture while simultaneously contesting its structure. Because diverse institutional actors can satisfy the definition of ‘non-state actor’, the chapter analyses a subset of NSAs: non-governmental organizations (NGOs). It first defines NGOs, identifying some common characteristics that influence their ability to advance international environmental law, and noting fundamental criteria used to distinguish among NGOs. The chapter then discusses three key functions that NGOs perform in contemporary international environmental law: serving as activists engaged in agenda-setting functions; performing diplomacy to shape and facilitate international rule-making processes; and contributing to rule-making, implementation, and enforcement in contemporary global governance. It concludes by forecasting strong continued NGO participation in developing non-treaty international environmental law.