Five disempowering traits that international NGOs must drop

openDemocracy published an article titled, “Five disempowering traits that international NGOs must drop.” The article reads in part as follows;

“The global landscape of social action is changing in important ways, but international NGOs like Amnesty, Oxfam, World Vision and Actionaid are struggling to keep up with these changes—and that leads to growing questions about their role, impact and legitimacy. A collapsed North-South world order has generated new power centres within and across different countries. Political elites are imposing new legal and administrative restrictions on civil society action. And activists are demanding new models of cross-border organising based not on the hierarchies of foreign aid but on peer-to-peer learning and collaboration between equal partners.

The changing political context is particularly important. Over 60 governments across the world have enacted new and restrictive legislation to control the operations of national and international civil society organisations. In at least 96 countries they and their staff experience vilification, funding caps, administrative harassment, closure and expulsion. As James Savage of Amnesty International puts it, “This global wave of restrictions has arapidity and breadth to its spread we’ve not seen before that arguably represents a seismic shift and closing down of human rights space not seen in a generation.”

In Kenya where I live, there have been five attempts to introduce harmful amendments to the NGO law. On at least three separate occasions, 1,400 NGOs have been struck from the official register on grounds that ranged from a failure to report their financial accounts, to alleged complicity in terrorism, to support for gay rights. Most of these organizations were re-instated within days after uproar from officials and the public. However, many have been pressured to change constitutions, close bank accounts and justify staff appointments and work permits. The cumulative impact has been to infect the sector with a real dose of fear, particularly international organisations.”

Click here to read the entire article.

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