Under Fire: NGOs Face Increasing Hostility

Long accustomed to occupying the moral high ground, NGOs are coming in for increasing criticism.

By Luke Hunt

The Diplomat

In recent decades the ubiquitous NGO has taken up the banner for charities and worthy causes. From the environment and human rights to health, education and animal welfare, nongovernment organizations have championed the dispossessed, winning legions of fans.

But in recent years pockets of NGO Land – as some call it – have lost their shine.

Too militant, too strident, and too sanctimonious are among common complaints leveled at NGOs – whether in Australia or in Southeast Asia and beyond — amid allegations of blatant lying and a victory at any cost mentality.


Enemies of the State: Beijing Targets NGOs

Fear of foreign infiltration behind a draft law that turns civic groups into security risks

By Andrew Browne

The Wall Street Journal

SHANGHAI—It takes a special kind of courage to run a foreign nonprofit in China these days.

There have always been challenges in dispensing humanitarian services across such a vast country—everything from HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns to environmental cleanups and care for orphans. Regulations are so onerous that it is virtually impossible for many civic groups to operate legally.

Still, thousands persist, often counting on sympathetic local police and officials to turn a blind eye to infractions.


What FIFA Can Teach NGOs — And Vice Versa

By Danny Sriskandarajah

Huffington Post – Impact blog

There’s one aspect of all the controversy surrounding FIFA that’s keeping me awake at night. It’s the fact that FIFA is an NGO. I know that sounds a little sad but I do work for the world’s largest alliance of civil society, trying to promote all that’s good about NGOs. And then along comes FIFA, and ever-growing allegations about corruption and wrongdoing. But FIFA’s NGO status means that its current implosion is throwing up several salient lessons for the rest of us in civil society.


For NGOs in China, a Sense of Party Creep

By Didi Kirsten Tatlow

The New York Times

In 1995, hundreds of members of nongovernmental organizations descended on Beijing, including Kazakhs calling for an end to nuclear testing, New Yorkers seeking equal pay for women and Europeans advocating sex workers’ rights, during the United Nations’ Fourth World Conference on Women. They dazzled Chinese hungry for change, and the concept of civil society took off. Within months, it seemed as if everyone was setting up an NGO.


The Kremlin vs. The NGOs

By Masha Gessen

The New York Times

A number of strange protests — small, mild and held in a sort of minor key — took place in Russia’s main cities this week.

A bookstore in St. Petersburg wrote in its window on Tuesday, “We are proud to be selling books published by the Dynasty Foundation.” The Dynasty Foundation, a charitable organization that funds research and educational projects, had just been designated by the authorities as a “foreign agent” — contemporary Russian-speak for an “enemy of the state.” In Moscow, a school teacher stood in front of the Justice Ministry holding a cardboard placard. Later, a writer wearing a graduation gown stood in the same spot, holding a sheet of paper in a plastic sleeve. The teacher’s sign said, “Dynasty is not an agent”; the writer’s said, “Agents yourself.”