The Foreign Service Journal, July-August 2007

J U LY- A U G U S T 2 0 0 7 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L 43 here is no doubting the influence and relevance of nonproliferation and disar- mament-related nongovernmental organizations. Three of them have received the Nobel Peace Prize in recent years, most notably for the promotional work that led to the 1997 Ottawa Convention banning the use, stockpil- ing and production of anti-personnel landmines. That convention was widely hailed as the triumph of an emer- gent “global civil society.” NGOs play many useful roles: incubators of ideas, policy advisers, collectors and purveyors of information, facilitators of dialogue, monitors of government activity and doers of good deeds. But generally they can be cat- egorized as either activists or analysts, with broad areas of overlap. It is a rare analyst whose conclusions are not coupled with policy suggestions, but the most respected groups take no institutional policy stance: e.g., The Brookings Institution, the Center for Strategic and Inter- national Studies, the Council on Foreign Relations and the Stimson Center. The Center for American Progress, on the other hand, is clearly aligned with the Democratic Party, thereby giving a partisan edge to the nonprolifer- ation pronouncements of Senior Vice President Joseph Cirincione. Particularly in America, NGOs also supplement aca- demic institutions by acting as holding pens for out-of- office politicians and otherwise out-of-work bureaucrats where they can continue to contribute their expertise and hone their policy views. Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton is at the American Enterprise Institute, for- mer Assistant Secretary for Nonproliferation Robert Einhorn leads the nonproliferation program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and for- mer NSC Senior Director for Nonproliferation Gary Samore is director of studies at the CFR, to name just three. The power of NGOs, including their ability to irritate governments, largely derives from the public pressure they can mobilize. Indeed, influencing decisions at the national level is the quintessential NGO role. At their best, informed and caring groups generate public aware- ness and educate all sides. At their worst, they are biased, unrealistic and unmindful of the larger picture. The irritation level only rises when NGOs seek a par- ticipatory role in deliberations on international treaties. Because private groups lack the legitimacy and account- ability expected of sovereign governments, decisionmak- ing in national security matters is properly limited to nations. Smaller nations that lack capacity on technical issues such as the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty are often all too willing to accept ghostwritten speeches and even diplomatic talking points from NGOs eager to F O C U S O N N O N P R O L I F E R A T I O N A CTIVISTS AND A NALYSTS : T HE R OLE OF NGO S N ONGOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS OFTEN DO NOT GET MUCH RESPECT , BUT THE GLOBAL NONPROLIFERATION REGIME WOULD BE THE POORER WITHOUT THEM . B Y M ARK F ITZPATRICK T