This article investigates the complex position of civil society within the unfolding processes of regional governance across North America. The analysis focuses on the region's evolution and institution-building under the North American Free Trade Agreement, as well as the negotiations that have accompanied more recent efforts to deepen continental integration. We argue that North American regional governance has clearly shifted from a state-centric to a more contested, pluralistic model of multilateralism, but is a model that still betrays a more elitist, non-cooperative orientation. Yet, beyond theorising about regional governance, this article raises concerns about the future of the North American governance project in the face of national and transnational civil society political contestation against the still exclusionary character of regional governance. It is suggested that there are both normative and political reasons why North American governance should be transformed to open new democratic channels for civil society participation in the emerging debates on deepening continental integration.
Policy and Society
Institute of Political Economy

Ayres, Jeffrey, & Macdonald, L. (2006). Deep Integration and Shallow Governance: The Limits of Civil Society Engagement across North America. Policy and Society, 25(3), 23–42. doi:10.1016/s1449-4035(06)70081-9