Professor Claire Kelly’s new article, Financial Crisis and Civil Society (11 CHI. J. INT'L. L. 505 (2011)) is one of several in a series of articles that she has written about international organizations and financial and commercial law. She has written about international organizations in terms of how they work, how they generate norms, their governance, and whether or not they are perceived as legitimate by the public. In this article she looks at the financial crisis and several international networks confronting the crisis and its aftermath.
Professor Kelly seeks to address how international institutions confront demands for greater legitimacy in light of public policy implications of their actions. She argues that international financial organizations should carefully calibrate civil society participation to improve their legitimacy. “We are still feeling the repercussions of the financial crisis,” Kelly explained. “When there is a regulatory failure, domestic or international, it has repercussions for all of us. How is it that all of us are accounted for?”
In her article, Kelly asks, whether there is room for broader participation to confront the problems associated with the crisis. She arrives at the conclusion that there is room, but one can’t assume that more participation will improve governance.
Throughout her analysis, she lays out the challenges of an international financial crisis, its phases and repercussions, those affected by the crisis, and the entities that work together to confront the crisis. She then asks how is it that we can have those affected by the crisis can be involved in the various stages of the lawmaking process that is meant to deal with the crisis.
In the article, Kelly breaks out the roles the international organizations play: policy making, reform, and redistribution of losses. “One of the takeaways” she says about her work in this area, is that “there are different types of challenges for regulators. Sometimes challenges arise at the agenda-setting or policy level. At other times the challenge is formulating particular rules to implement policy. At this level, there are decisions that are very technical in nature and only a few people can engage in this type of discussion.”
When addressing the need for a greater level of civil society participation she concludes that civil society organizations that are advocacy groups should seek a role in the agenda setting process while experts should seek to have expert participation at the rule setting phase.
“Civil society participation can be good, but it needs to be calibrated so that it can be useful,” she adds. Where properly calibrated, greater participation, she argues, strengthens legitimacy of international organizations, which is beneficial to society.
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