Samstag, Dezember 04, 2004

Making Sense Of It All Pt. 2

Part of the problem of the increasing role being played by NGOs in the world arena is a fundamental question of power and responsibility.

A lot of these NGOs are pushing some politics that are fairly reprehensible: they hide these politics nicely with a facade aimed at getting people to donate money, but at the end of the day they aren't so much interested in helping as in gaining and exercising power. Belmont Club has a nice post right now on this:

I'm not going to name names, since I want to keep this abstract and argue from principles. NGOs cynically manipulate public opinion to achieve their goals. I am sure they are very, very good at rationalizing their goals to make everything sound so rational and sensible. But they are really making things worse. The NGOs are part of the problem and not the solution.

Failed countries fail in part because of incompetence and a lack of accountability. People leading NGOs want to take over the role of the state in providing services: they do not want the responsibility as well. That's why they are in NGOs, to avoid having to make a commitment somewhere by taking over responsibility. They want instead to act as if they were responsible, but given that they operate within the environment that actively denies assigning openly responsibility - I know of no NGO that clearly states "people here are starving because French agricultural policy has impoverished local farmers by flooding the market with foodstuffs under cost": they instead choose to show pictures of starving kids to get people to donate to "save the kids".

Doesn't mean that there aren't NGOs out there that are doing good. There are. I donate money each and every month to an NGO that uses local microfunding to enable basics like clean water and irrigation for fields to ensure a surplus for a village: this is where aid goes directly to those who need it.

But there are too many who are putting band-aids on wounds caused by incompetence and lack of responsibility.

And this is the problem with the UN as well. The UN has been taken over by the inmates, as is so painfully obvious with the human rights council being chaired by third-world despots, with questions of security being settled by those who are on the take and by the sheer corruption and incompetence that dominates its daily business, as exemplified by the Oil-For-Food scandal.

NGOs and anyone else who want to expand the role of the UN and of NGOs in the world arena are part of the problem: they want control without responsibility, they want power without legitimation.

Which means that they fundamentally cannot adress the problems facing failed states: they cannot assume responsibility because they are themselves irresponsible.

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