NGO Involvement in the WTO: A Comparative Perspective

P.L.H. van den Bossche*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This article examines the nature and the extent of the involvement of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the activities of the World Trade Organization (WTO). First, it looks at the arguments for and against NGO involvement in WTO activities. Next, the article discusses the legal basis for the involvement of NGOs in WTO activities and the various forms of involvement provided for. It compares the position of NGOs in the WTO with their position in other international organizations, in particular, the United Nations. Subsequently, the article explores the practice of WTO engagement with NGOs. Finally, it examines and compares the rules and procedures of the WTO and the United Nations for the selection of the NGOs with which to engage. This article concludes that a more open and engaged dialogue with civil society will make the WTO a more transparent and responsive organization, enjoying greater support among the general public in developed as well as developing country Members. Justified concerns about the legitimacy, accountability, and politics of NGOs could be eliminated, or at least mitigated, by introducing a system of accreditation in the WTO. While NGO involvement in the WTO definitely has its limits, the involvement of NGOs in other international organizations, in particular, the United Nations, suggests that these limits have not been reached as yet.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)717-749
JournalJournal of International Economic Law
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008


Dive into the research topics of 'NGO Involvement in the WTO: A Comparative Perspective'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this