“The Future of Transnational NGO Advocacy”

Editor’s Note: The Stanford Social Innovation review published the above-titled article, which reads in part as follows:

“International non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have repeatedly won Nobel prizes for their advocacy work and helped combat major world problems ranging from arms control to global poverty. However, international advocacy organizations, particularly those from high-income countries in the Global North, face a growing crisis of relevance.

Policymakers and the general public increasingly question the accuracy of NGOs’ claims and the legitimacy of allowing Northern NGOs to speak for, or advocate on behalf of, people living in developing countries. In a growing number of countries, legal restrictions on foreign NGOs have limited Northern NGOs’ ability to conduct operations or provide funding, reducing their access and capacity to work with Southern partners.

At the same time, NGOs and activists from many Southern countries have begun to assert their power and voices on international issues. Local farmers and beekeepers in Mexico, for example, have successfully challenged Monsanto’s efforts to expand the production of genetically modified soybeans there. And Vietnamese NGOs have challenged Global Fund policies toward middle-income countries.

New types of advocacy organizations have further disrupted the global NGO community and the space of transnational activism. Members of the Open Progressive Engagement Network, for instance, use new digital technology and mobile-based platforms to expand grassroots engagement and facilitate volunteer-led campaigns.

What do these changes herald for the future of international advocacy organizations? Here, six NGO scholars offer three perspectives on the future of transnational advocacy and discuss how organizations can adapt to the challenges of 21st-century campaigning. We highlight three trends: the continued reliance of Northern NGOs on Northern power and funding, the increasing power of Southern NGOs and advocacy networks, and the disruptive nature of new technology. We also show how the diffusion of power, both to Southern NGOs and to digital activists, challenges traditional approaches to advocacy and suggest strategies by which NGOs can adapt to these changes.”

Click here to read the entire article.



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