Unlocking the State’s Front Door: Principled Commitment NGOs and Environmental Rights in Argentina and Colombia


Tuesday, November 14, 2017, 12:00pm to 2:00pm


CGIS South, S250, 1730 Cambridge Street

Speaker: Veronica Herrera, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Connecticut

Moderator: Steven Levitsky, Professor of Government, Harvard University 

The distance between the state and grassroots claims is long. To access the state territorial groups must overcome limited material resources education and time as well as public officials who dismiss them as illegitimate policymaking partners. This paper based on extensive field research examines the construction of advocacy networks for environmental rights protections in Argentina and Colombia. Herrera shows how territorial groups afflicted by pollution effectively reached the state through the construction of advocacy networks led by “principled commitment” NGOs turning disparate and individualistic grievances into a unified demand for collective rights. She stresses how political opportunities when combined with value-laden framing placed the historically ignored right to a clean environment on the public policy agenda leading to legal institutional and policy change. These findings reveal a new route through which citizens are bypassing ineffectual executive branch institutions and asking the judiciary to be involved in making policy change.

Veronica Herrera is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Connecticut. She is the author of Water and Politics: Clientelism and Reform in Urban Mexico (University of Michigan Press 2017) and has published in Comparative Politics World Development and Latin American Politics and Society.