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On Planning for Development  NGOs  Editor: Dr. Róbinson Rojas Sandford

From Development In Practice:
Development, NGOs, and Civil Society
Deborah Eade (editor)

The rise of neoliberalism and the so-called Washington Consensus have generated a powerful international agenda of what constitutes good governance, democratisation, and the proper role of the state and civil society in advancing development. As public spending has declined, the NGO sector has massively benefited from taking on a service-delivery role. At the same time, as civil society organisations,, NGOs are a convenient channel through which official agencies can promote political pluralism. But can NGOs play these roles simultaneously? Can they both facilitate governments’ withdrawal from providing basic services for all and also claim to represent the poor and the disenfranchised? Are NGOs legitimate political actors in their own right? Jenny Pearce introduces papers that describe some of the tensions inherent in the roles being played by NGOs, and asks whether they truly stand for anything fundamentally different from the agencies on whose largesse they increasingly depend.

Globalization and Civil Society: NGO influence in international decision-making
Since the 1980s, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have emerged as an important force on the world stage working to democratize decision-making processes, protect human rights and provide essential services to the most needy. Underpinning this expanded role in global governance has been a certain disillusionment with the role of the state in facilitating sustainable human development and the belief that more flexible, motivated and decentralized structures have the required skills and responsibility to undertake this role.

Civil Society, NGDOs and Social Development: Changing the Rules of the Game
This paper broadly evaluates the role and performance of non-governmental development organizations (NGDOs) in promoting social development before and since the 1995 World Summit for Social Development. Two kinds of analysis and recommendations are offered. The first concerns the practices of NGDOs and their relationships with other “partners in development”. The second focuses on the deep-rooted pathologies of the aid system that condition the form and effectiveness of many development interventions not only by NGDOs but also by the larger universe of entities comprising civil society organizations (CSOs). This review concludes that, in the absence of thoroughgoing reform, the aid system will continue to hinder mobilization by the larger civil society with NGDOs to bring about genuine development in the Third World.

About sociodynamics and political economy
"The study of Political Economy integrates anthropology, economics, history, law, political science, philosophy and sociology by offering ways of understanding the ... world and providing tools for analyzing contemporary problems. Political Economy seeks to study how such problems interweave and overlap, how they evolved, how they are understood, how and why certain decisions are made about them, and how these issues impact the quality of human life. At its best, Political Economy provides the interdisciplinary tools needed to analyze strategies for social change, historically and in the present, and explore alternatives to the current global system. Major social problems are deeply grounded in theories and history of cultural, philosophical, social, economic and political practice. Their understanding involves exploring basic analytic concepts and values (freedom, equality, justice and democracy) and their meanings today. Political Economy looks at societies as dynamic and ever-changing systems, comparing them in different countries and cultures and evaluating their impacts on the everyday lives of all affected people." (Dr. Peter Bohmer, The Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA, U.S.A., 1996)
Sociodynamics (1)
Róbinson Rojas (1984) on:
Towards a theory of Latin America's "underdevelopment".
The collision, dissolution and fusion of two modes of production.

A short digression is necessary at this stage: my concept of "collision of modes of production" refers to the interaction (military or economic, or both) between different social formations as an historical event. The outcome of that collision amounts to the outcome of the interaction of different economic, social, political and ideological instances, resulting -if one social formation does not destroy the other -in a new complex structure (the fabric of the new social formation).
        On the one hand, in any mode of production, each one of the four instances is simultaneously cause and effect within the complex structure, and in their mutual relation (from here derives the notion of "relative autonomy" attached to social, political and ideological instances, because unlike the economic instance, they are not limited by technological aspects). Thus the complex structure reacts over each one of the instances and viceversa. On the other hand, the appropriation of nature being the aim of human beings grouping in societies, the economic instance (as organisation of the labour process) appears as the first cause, but it is not an isolated instance above the entire process (clearly so because all four instances and the complex structure exist only as relations between human beings grouped in societies). Therefore, this economic instance is limited by both the others and the complex structure, and simultaneously the former (economic instance) poses a limit to all of them.
more on this

From Idealist
NGO Global network

James Petras - Monthly Review, 1997, Volume 49, Issue 07 (December)
Imperialism and NGOs in Latin America

As opposition to neoliberalism grew in the early 1980s, the U.S. and European governments and the World Bank increased their funding of NGOs. There is a direct relation between the growth of social movements challenging the neoliberal model and the effort to subvert them by creating alternative forms of social action through the NGOs. The basic point of convergence between the NGOs and the World Bank was their common opposition to “statism.” On the surface the NGOs criticized the state from a “left” perspective defending civil society, while the right did so in the name of the market. In reality, however, the World Bank, the neoliberal regimes, and western foundations co-opted and encouraged the NGOs to undermine the national welfare state by providing social services to compensate the victims of the multinational corporations (MNCs). In other words, as the neoliberal regimes at the top devastated communities by inundating the country with cheap imports, extracting external debt payment, abolishing labor legislation, and creating a growing mass of low-paid and unemployed workers, the NGOs were funded to provide “self-help” projects, “popular education,” and job training, to temporarily absorb small groups of poor, to co-opt local leaders, and to undermine anti-system struggles.

 Wikileaks Mirrors

"Could become as important a journalistic tool as the Freedom of Information Act." - Time Magazine
WikiLeaks is a non-profit media organization dedicated to bringing important news and information to the public. We provide an innovative, secure and anonymous way for independent sources around the world to leak information to our journalists. We publish material of ethical, political and historical significance while keeping the identity of our sources anonymous, thus providing a universal way for the revealing of suppressed and censored injustices.
WikiLeaks relies on its supporters in order to stay strong. Please keep us at the forefront of anti-censorship and support us today. You can also read more about WikiLeaks, our mission and objectives.

The WWW Virtual Library on Non-Governmental Organizations
Realizing the growing importance and voice of NGOs in development in general, the NGO Café was set up on the internet as a think tank for NGOs to discuss, debate and disseminate information on their work, strategies and results.
The basic objectives of the Café are to assist NGOs in enhancing and improving their programmes and activities; to effect a better understanding of NGOs in general; and to enable NGOs to network at local, regional and international levels.
The Global Development Research Center
- 1994
The relationship between the state and the voluntary sector

In some countries, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are major contributors to development processes. This is not uniform, however. In a number of countries, NGOs are weak or play more of an oppositional rather than operational role and governments are highly suspicious of them. A number of factors influence the development impact of NGOs; many of which are determined by the relationship between the NGO sector and the State.
This paper describes the characteristics of this relationship, concentrating on issues which affect the efficacy of NGOs, the attainment of governments' poverty reduction and other social objectives, and collaboration between NGOs and the public sector. It explores the main elements of government policy and practice which affect NGOs and which could foster a more conducive environment for positive NGO contribution to development. A study series is proposed to examine these issues in a range of countries. The studies will feed into a synthesis report (to be prepared in FY95) which will indicate areas of "best practice" of relevance to poverty reduction, participatory development and "good governance."

The NGO Café

NGO Committee on Disarmament, Peace and Security
NGOCDPS is a committee of 26 organizations working towards disarmament worldwide. For over 30 years, we have provided services to groups concerned with the UN's peace and disarmament activities. As a conference organizer, publisher, and UN liaison, we support movements for arms control, peace and disarmament.
NGOCDPS provides information on the status of negotiations, country positions, obstacles and opportunities, and supports NGOs in their advocacy on peace and disarmament issues.
United Nations Non-governmental organizations section

The NGO Relations Cluster is the link to over 1,500 Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) associated with the Department of Public Information and supports their efforts to interact effectively with the United Nations in their areas of expertise.
The Cluster is also responsible for facilitating the exchange of information and developing partnerships with civil society. It plays a coordinating role within the UN Secretariat to reach out to civil society partners around the world and enhance their interaction with, and understanding of, the work of the UN.
The Cluster proactively reaches out to representatives of civil society who seek information about the UN and look for opportunities to support the Organization at the international, regional, national and community levels.

The annual UN DPI/NGO Conference is the NGO Relations Cluster’s premier event at the United Nations, attracting around 2,000 NGO representatives from approximately 70 countries.

Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Status with the United Nations

The Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CONGO) is an independent, international, non-profit membership association of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). It facilitates the participation of NGOs in United Nations debates and decision-making. CONGO is most active at the major UN centres of New York, Geneva and Vienna but its work stretches out to all regions of the world.
CONGO was founded in 1948. Since then it has relentlessly worked to ensure that NGO voices be heard throughout the international arena. CONGO's role in mobilizing NGOs to form the first worldwide NGO forum on human rights in 1968, its role in conceiving forms of NGO participation in UN world conferences and its advocacy on behalf of NGOs at UN Headquarters highlight CONGO's chief objectives: to ensure that NGOs be present when governments discuss issues of global concern at the United Nations and to facilitate NGO discussions on such issues.
CONGO does not take positions on substantive matters. However, CONGO does provide, through special and ad hoc NGO Committees, fora for discussion of substantive matters by its members with officials of the UN Secretariat and UN system agencies, UN delegations and other experts.

The International Budget Partnership

If you want to fight poverty, you need to care about government budgets. As the specific plans for how public funds will be raised and spent, budgets are the government’s most powerful tool to meet the needs and priorities of a country and its people. The aim of the International Budget Partnership (IBP) is to ensure that government budgets are more responsive to the needs of poor and low-income people in society and, accordingly, to make budget systems more transparent and accountable to the public.
The IBP believes that the public has a right to comprehensive, timely, and useful information on how the government manages public funds. Our experience shows that when ordinary people have information, skills, and opportunities to participate, broader public engagement in government budget processes can promote substantive improvements in governance and poverty.
In order to foster more open, participatory, and accountable public budgeting, the IBP partners with civil society organizations around the world, leveraging their knowledge of their country’s political context, their experience navigating policy processes for social change, and their relationships with the public in order to transform their country’s budget system.

The World Bank and civil society

The World Bank first began to interact with civil society in the 1970s through dialogue with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on environmental concerns.  Today the World Bank consults and collaborates with thousands of members of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) throughout the world, such as community-based organizations, NGOs, social movements, labor unions, faith-based groups, and foundations.  
The World Bank has learned through these three decades of interaction that the participation of CSOs in government development projects and programs can enhance their operational performance by contributing local knowledge, providing technical expertise, and leveraging social capital.  Further, CSOs can bring innovative ideas and solutions, as well as participatory approaches, to solving local problems.

New Partnerships Initiative: NGO empowerment

The New Partnerships Initiative (NPI) seeks to support the capacity of local actors to participate in the development process. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) together with small businesses and local governments, comprise the core components of effective local capacity.
USAID will pursue programs which foster at all levels of government an "enabling environment" favorable to NGO empowerment and which directly bolster the capacity of local NGOs. The Agency will utilize intermediaries, especially U.S. PVOs, to carry out much of the work to strengthen local NGOs.
USAID's goal is to create a large, diverse community of local NGOs capable of promoting sustainable development. Each country is different; the nature and roles of NGOs will differ significantly from country to country. Still, NGOs are everywhere a potentially critical vehicle for articulating collective interests and for ensuring citizen participation in the development process. In countries where the linkages between local NGOs, small business, and local government are strong and where there appears to be sustainable progress toward democracy and free-enterprise, NPI can set the stage for graduation from USAID assistance.

MandE News

Monitoring and Evaluation NEWS is a news service focusing on developments in monitoring and evaluation methods relevant to development programmes with social development objectives. Managed by Rick Davies, since 1997

Converge Programme

Mission Statement
To enhance the capacity and effectiveness of not-for-profit, community and non-governmental organisations by facilitating the provision of premier on-line communication and publishing services, tools and resources, wherever possible free of charge


ActionAid is an international anti-poverty agency whose aim is to fight poverty worldwide. Formed in 1972, for over 30 years we have been growing and expanding to where we are today - helping over 13 million of the world's poorest and most disadvantaged people in 42 countries worldwide.
In all of our country programmes we work with local partners to make the most of their knowledge and experience.
In December 2003 we established a new head office in Johannesburg, South Africa, and began the process of making all our country programmes equal partners with an equal say on how we operate.

Christian Aid

Christian Aid is a Christian organisation that insists the world can and must be swiftly changed to one where everyone can live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance where need is great, tackling the effects of poverty as well as its root causes.

Friends of the Earth (U.K.)

Friends of the Earth (U.S.):
Public Participation: an essential component of a sustainable economy, 1998
Rights for people, rules for big business, 2002
Since 1971, we've been making things happen. Some big, some small. Like:


Greenpeace's cornerstone principles and core values are reflected in all our environmental campaign work, worldwide. These are:
  • We 'bear witness' to environmental destruction in a peaceful, non-violent manner;
  • We use non-violent confrontation to raise the level and quality of public debate;
  • In exposing threats to the environment and finding solutions we have no permanent allies or adversaries;
  • We ensure our financial independence from political or commercial interests;
  • We seek solutions for, and promote open, informed debate about society's environmental choices.

In developing our campaign strategies and policies we take great care to reflect our fundamental respect for democratic principles and to seek solutions that will promote global social equity.

Institute for Global Communications

Beginning in 1987, the Institute for Global Communications (IGC) played a formative role in bringing advanced communications technologies to grassroots organizations worldwide working for peace, human rights, environmental sustainability, women's rights, conflict resolution and worker rights. Our flagship global computer networks -- PeaceNet, EcoNet, WomensNet, ConflictNet, LaborNet and AntiRacismNet -- became trademark names in the struggle for democratic use of the media and the world's communications infrastructure. At its peak in 1998, IGC had over 35 full-time staff members.
Many things have changed since then. ConflictNet doesn't exist anymore. LaborNet left the IGC Networks to pursue its own mission. AntiRacismNet is the newest, thriving IGC Network pursuing a global anti-racism agenda.
IGC no longer offers Internet dial-up or mailing list services. It has formed partnerships with EarthLink and to fill the gap. IGC continues to offer web hosting services to nonprofit groups, individuals, and small companies.

Survival International
We help tribal peoples defend their lives, protect their lands and determine their own futures.

OneWorld Online

Thanks for checking out OneWorld US – and OneWorld UK! Because now we’ve grouped together these two great OneWorld centres, one from each side of the Atlantic, into a terrific new collaboration that we’re calling the OneWorld Group.
We’re seriously excited about this. And we’re celebrating our new grouping by launching the new website that you are visiting now, with its new URL - - reflecting our collaboration.  
Some things won’t change: we’ll go on pioneering digital media innovations to help you, and your communities or organisations, bring about a fairer and greener world, as per our formal Mission Statement: 
We pioneer internet and mobile phone applications, which the world's poorest people can use to improve their life opportunities, and which help people everywhere understand global problems - and do something about them. 

Amnesty International

Amnesty International is a global movement of more than 3 million supporters, members and activists in more than 150 countries and territories who campaign to end grave abuses of human rights.
Our vision is for every person to enjoy all the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards.
We are independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion and are funded mainly by our membership and public donations.
You can help make a real difference by becoming a member or supporter of Amnesty International.

The Carter Center

The Carter Center, in partnership with Emory University, is guided by a fundamental commitment to human rights and the alleviation of human suffering; it seeks to prevent and resolve conflicts, enhance freedom and democracy, and improve health.
While the program agenda may change, The Carter Center is guided by five principles:

1. The Center emphasizes action and results. Based on careful research and analysis, it is prepared to take timely action on important and pressing issues.

2. The Center does not duplicate the effective efforts of others.

3. The Center addresses difficult problems and recognizes the possibility of failure as an acceptable risk.

4. The Center is nonpartisan and acts as a neutral in dispute resolution activities.

5. The Center believes that people can improve their lives when provided with the necessary skills, knowledge, and access to resources.

The Carter Center collaborates with other organizations, public or private, in carrying out its mission.

Rainforest Action Network

Rainforest Action Network (RAN) is headquartered in San Francisco, California with office staff in Tokyo, Japan, and Edmonton, Canada, plus thousands of volunteer scientists, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens around the world. We believe that a sustainable world can be created in our lifetime, and that aggressive action must be taken immediately to leave a safe and secure world for our children. 
Dubbed “some of the most savvy environmental agitators in the business” by the Wall Street Journal, RAN uses hard-hitting markets campaigns to align the policies of multinational corporations with widespread public support for environmental protection. We believe that logging ancient forests for copy paper or destroying an endangered ecosystem for a week’s worth of oil is not just destructive, but outdated and unnecessary.

Project Underground

Project Underground exists as a vehicle for the environmental, human rights and indigenous rights movements to carry out focused campaigns against abusive extractive resource activity. We seek to systematically deal with the problems created by the mining and oil industries by exposing environmental and human rights abuses by the corporations involved in these sectors and by building capacity amongst communities facing mineral and energy development to achieve economic and environmental justice.
In general we work to provide informational, technical, legal and scientific support to communities facing oil, gas and mining operations; as well as to campaign in support of communities adversely affected by these industries. More specifically Project Underground serves those communities threatened by the mining and oil industries by:
Informing communities of the environmental impacts of oil and mining activities;
Informing communities of their rights under international and national law;
Supplying corporate data, history, and examples of best-practice to communities;
When requested Project Underground helps communities resist unsustainable activity through a variety of avenues including, but not limited to, networking with other communities of resistance, helping seek national and international legal redress, publicity, access to international fora, with a range of tactics involved in our own brand of nonviolent, strategic campaigning and by building their organizational capacity.


Oxfam is an international confederation of 14 organizations working together in 98 countries and with partners and allies around the world to find lasting solutions to poverty and injustice.

We work directly with communities and we seek to influence the powerful to ensure that poor people can improve their lives and livelihoods and have a say in decisions that affect them.

International Alert

International Alert is a 25-year old independent peacebuilding organisation. We work with people who are directly affected by violent conflict to improve their prospects of peace. And we seek to influence the policies and ways of working of governments, international organisations like the UN and multinational companies, to reduce conflict risk and increase the prospects of peace.
We work in Africa, several parts of Asia, the South Caucasus, the Middle East and Latin America and have recently started work in the UK. Our policy work focuses on several key themes that influence prospects for peace and security – the economy, climate change, gender, the role of international institutions, the impact of development aid, and the effect of good and bad governance.
We are one of the world’s leading peacebuilding NGOs with more than 155 staff based in London and 15 field offices. The organisation is led by our Secretary General, Dan Smith OBE, and the Senior Management Team.

El Proyecto Internacional de Presupuesto

La iniciativa ¡Pregúntale a tu gobierno! inició en enero de 2010, cuando 100 organizaciones de la sociedad civil lanzaron un esfuerzo ambicioso por documentar el acceso público a la información presupuestaria en 80 países. La pregunta central detrás de este esfuerzo es sencilla: ¿Qué pasa cuando los ciudadanos le piden a su gobierno información presupuestaria específica relacionada con compromisos internacionales de desarrollo de los cuales el gobierno es signatario?
La respuesta es que la mayoría de las veces, los gobiernos no responden en lo absoluto o, cuando sí responden, no lo hacen con información suficiente. De hecho, cuando los ciudadanos de cada país le hicieron seis preguntas a sus gobiernos sobre cuánto dinero gastan en prioridades de desarrollo, solamente uno de los 80 países proporcionó respuestas sustantivas a la totalidad de las seis preguntas.
Los ciudadanos usaron los canales oficiales para solicitar información de los organismos gubernamentales y fueron diligentes en el seguimiento a estas solicitudes. Muchos hicieron todo lo posible por lograr que los gobiernos otorgaran acceso a la información, a menudo visitando las oficinas de los ministerios en múltiples ocasiones. La mayoría de los gobiernos cuestionados en la iniciativa ¡Pregúntale a tu gobierno! no respondió adecuadamente a las solicitudes ciudadanas de acceso a la información sobre el presupuesto público. Este hallazgo apunta hacia un gran problema en materia de transparencia y rendición de cuentas.

Fundacion CIPAV

La Fundación Centro para la Investigación en Sistemas Sostenibles de Producción Agropecuaria - CIPAV - es una organización no gubernamental con más de 20 años de experiencia en la investigación, capacitación y divulgación destinada a construir sistemas sostenibles de producción agropecuaria.
Contribuir al desarrollo sostenible del sector rural a través de la investigación, gestión, desarrollo y divulgación de alternativas productivas amigables con la naturaleza.
Ser una organización líder en la construcción de modelos productivos que contribuyan al desarrollo rural sostenible a nivel nacional e internacional.

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