Originally uploaded at SSRN.


The standard approach of many international organizations (IOs) to non-governmental associations makes no formal distinctions between nonprofit private sector groups, known as trade or industry associations, and public interest groups. Thus, most IOs offer accreditation and access to both kinds of group on equal terms, without differentiating between them. I call this approach “interest blind” and use this short essay to examine its origins and consequences. Specifically, the approach has resulted in robust participation in international governance by industry and trade lobbying groups, which can affect the quality of deliberation at IOs and of the information that international officials and lawmakers receive. At the same time, eliminating for-profit participation is neither possible nor prudent. A successful reform will accept the premise that participating groups will advance a diversity of special interests, and regulate accordingly.