Transnational advocacy and domestic law: International NGOs and the design of freedom of information laws

Daniel Berliner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Can international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) influence domestic policy? This paper offers new quantitative evidence of the impact of INGOs in one specific policy area—Freedom of Information (FOI) laws—as well as highlighting an under-studied mechanism of INGO influence on the design of domestic laws. I test this argument by examining the effect of legal analyses of draft FOI legislation published by the INGO Article 19. These analyses provide expert legal assessments and make normative evaluations—both information politics and symbolic politics. I find that in countries in which Article 19 conducted legal analyses, the design of the subsequently passed FOI laws was significantly stronger than in countries that were not subject to such analyses. I demonstrate that this finding is not an artifact of Article 19’s selection process. I also present suggestive evidence that highlights symbolic politics, not information politics, as the more salient mechanism. Finally, I examine the process of FOI drafting and adoption in Serbia to illustrate the argument and specific mechanisms at work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-144
Number of pages24
JournalReview of International Organizations
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


  • Freedom of information
  • International NGOs
  • Policy design
  • Transnational advocacy
  • Transparency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Political Science and International Relations


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