Often when talking about lobbying in Washington, DC, people’s minds turn to corporations and interest groups – Americans that want to have their voices heard in the capitol and to steer federal policy in what they believe is a better direction.
It certainly is true that major business and large trade and professional organizations comprise the bulk of lobbying clients in DC, due in large part to the important role the federal government has in the commerce and economy of the United States.
But this is not the only influence the federal government has-and businesses are not the only group touched by its decisions. Increasingly over the past half-century, decisions made in Washington have affected people all around the world-something that has motivated foreign nations to want to lobby in DC as well.
Nations small and large, whether they have an expansive embassy in DC (like the United Kingdom) or only a small, sparsely staffed office, have increasingly been signing up with lobbying firms to have their voiced heard in the corridors of power.
Possibly the most interesting foreign groups that want to lobby in DC are governments that, well, technically don’texist. One DC-based firm that seeks to give these governments that want to exist a voice is Independent Diplomat, Inc, whose website states their mission as “enabling governments and political groups disadvantaged or marginalized by lack of diplomatic capacity to engage effectively in diplomatic processes.”
They represent, among others:
- The ‘Government of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic’ (part of ‘Western Sahara,’ a former Spanish colony that is claimed and largely administered by Morocco)
- The ‘National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma’ (a kind of government-in-exile, comprised of those who dispute the authority of the current rulers of ‘Myanmar’)
- The ‘Government of the Republic of Somaliland’ (an autonomous region that split off from the rest of Somalia in 1991)
Such pseudo-governments would want to lobby the United States government both for practical and idealistic reasons. Throughout the world, the United States clearly is in a uniquely powerful position, militarily, economically and diplomatically. These groups seeking international diplomatic recognition know their goals would be much easier to reach with U.S. backing. But they must also feel that the unique history of the US would make those in power in DC more receptive to the voice of those seeking their independence, democracy, or both.
FARA filings are publicly available. Search the database here: http://www.justice.gov/criminal/fara/links/qs_primary.html.