In his essay Politics beyond the State, Wapner elaborates on how non-governmental organizations change the international system of governance. First, Wapner (1995) focuses on the ability of non-governmental organizations to create new values and expectations. The author describes the process of disseminating ecological sensibility as a method for building a new global system of environmental values. For instance, the Sea Shepherds Conservation Society and Greenpeace use their media facilities to spread the message of environmental protection and inspire their audiences to change their behaviors and decisions to meet the new values and norms (Wapner, 1995). Similar examples can be found beyond the environmental domain – dozens of non-governmental organizations seek to change public beliefs about human trafficking, family violence, and HIV/AIDS, thus imposing a new set of values and encouraging their followers to behave in a more value-driven way.

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Second, Wapner (1995) speaks about the influence of non-governmental organizations on multinational corporations. A notable example of such changes is the decision of McDonald’s to use paper packaging instead of the clamshell hamburger box (Wapner, 1995). Chicken of the Sea, one of the largest tuna producing companies, followed the example by claiming that it would no longer purchase the tuna caught through dolphin nets (Wapner, 1995). Both companies would have never made any environmental decisions, had the non-governmental organizations been less persuasive in their effort to make the world a better place. Similar efforts are noted in the area of human rights protection, where non-governmental organizations force multinational corporations into changing their practices and assuming complete social responsibility for their actions.

Third, Wapner (1995) writes that non-governmental organizations empower local communities to meet their unique environmental needs. The best examples of such organizations include World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and World Wide Fund for Nature (Wapner, 1995). Local communities are supported around the globe in many efforts that cross the boundaries of environmental protection. Private sector development, sustainable development, water security, human rights of minorities and aboriginal peoples, and other areas have become the focus of non-governmental organizations. Yet, even such successes do not imply any serious shift from state power to that of NGOs. Wapner (1995) is quite skeptical about the ability of NGOs to shape and maintain the global order. In his view, non-governmental organizations are too weak to end the state system. Still, politics can never be limited to states, and NGOs will keep playing one of the central roles in directing the global power relations (Wapner, 1995).

Keck and Sikkink (1999) discuss transnational advocacy networks and their implications for transnational non-governmental activity. According to Keck and Sikkink (1999), advocacy networks exemplify a powerful non-governmental transnational player, which contributes to the development of social and cultural norms that facilitate regional and international integration. They are most likely to emerge where the government-NGO channels are too ineffective too promote change and conflict resolution; where networking is needed to further non-governmental missions; or where the environment favors the creation of such networks (Keck & Sikkink, 1999). Transnational advocacy networks operate in a diversity of ways, from bringing together activists from less developed countries to creating new collective identities around the most pertinent global issues (Keck & Sikkink, 1999).

These activities have profound implications for the social and cultural processes of regional integration, including the indigenous rights movement. Pitty and Smith (2011) used the theoretical framework proposed by Keck and Sikkink (1999) to analyze the reasons behind the effectiveness of the Global Indigenous Caucus, a transnational advocacy network. The discussed organization relied on the so-called boomerang pattern of lobbying, bringing together the most powerful allies to spread the message of indigenous rights protection (Keck & Sikkink, 1999; Pitty & Smith, 2011). It also reflected and reinforced the uniqueness of the indigenous movement issues facing the African territories (Pitty & Smith, 2011). To a large extent, transnational advocacy groups shape the new global fabric, which defines the direction of the regional integration activities and promotes linkages based on trust, information exchange, accountability, and cultural symbols.

In his article on gangs and transnational crime, Sullivan (2014) talks about co-opting state reconfiguration as the method used by criminal elements to erode state capacity. Gangs co-opt state organs and reconfigure the principles of state activity in ways that favor their illicit intentions. “State reconfiguration is potentially a more common outcome than abject state capture or state failure and co-opted state reconfiguration (CStR)” (Sullivan, 2014, p. 65). The latter implies gaining access to the state’s social, economic, cultural, and political advantages beyond the state’s control (Sullivan, 2014). This is what actually happens in Central America, where gangs struggle to obtain and retain control over entire cities (Arana, 2005). They rule dozens of municipalities beyond the state’s control (Arana, 2005). Families flee the most problematic neighborhoods, as their lives are not protected by the state (Arana, 2005). Corruption flourishes, while police crackdowns on criminal gangs cover the state’s unwillingness to build democratic institutions (Arana, 2005).

Nine years ago when Arana’s (2005) article was published, she recommended using a multicountry approach to combating gang crimes. The recommendations were not followed closely. Nevertheless, they are still relevant today. Transnational advocacy networks and non-governmental organizations may not have the resources and power needed to combat street crime. However, they are will equipped to initiate a civil action and provide local support in building democratic institutions that will become a counterforce to gangs and other criminal elements in Central America.