civil society organizations

5 trends that explain why civil society space is under assault around the world

Duncan Green - August 25, 2015

In the 1980s and 90s civil society, and civil society organizations (CSOs) came to be seen as key players in development; aid donors  and INGOs like Oxfam increasingly sought them out as partners. So the current global crackdown on ‘civil society space’ is particularly worrying – a major pillar of development is under threat. Ross Clarke (left) and Araddhya Mehtta (right) from from Oxfam’s Knowledge …

Continue reading

Obama’s Afro-mance: A personal reflection by Irungu Houghton

Duncan Green - August 7, 2015

Irungu is an old mate and a redoubtable activist (this post came in late because he ‘Was off school protecting‎’ – how cool is that?). He was also two seats away from The Man during Obama’s visit to Kenya last week. Here are some thoughts. The excitement began at least three months before Airforce 1 landed on a spruced up and highly secured Jomo Kenyatta …

Continue reading

Why is there no ‘Fundraisers Without Borders’? Big missing piece in development.

Duncan Green - July 22, 2015

There are an extraordinary number of ‘without borders’ organizations (see here, or an even longer list here) – every possible activity is catered for, from chemists to clowns (and that’s just the c’s). But one seems to be missing, and it may well be the most useful – why is there no ‘fundraisers without borders’? Mike Edwards argues that ‘we should focus as much attention …

Continue reading

Civil Society and the dangers of Monoculture: smart new primer from Mike Edwards

Duncan Green - January 15, 2015

Mike Edwards has just written a 3rd edition of his book ‘Civil Society’. It’s a 130 page primer, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy reading. I found some of the conceptual stuff on different understandings of civil society pretty hard going, but was repaid with some really interesting and innovative systems thinking, leading to what I think are some novel suggestions for how NGOs and …

Continue reading

Strengthening active citizenship after a traumatic civil war: dilemmas and ideas in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Duncan Green - June 25, 2014

I went to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) last week to help Oxfam Italia develop advocacy and campaign skills among local civil society organizations. They have their work cut out. Firstly, there is a crisis of trust between the public and CSOs, which are poorly regulated, often seen as little more than ‘briefcase NGOs’, only interested in winning funding, and under constant attack from politicians. Many …

Continue reading

What do African civil society organizations think of the rise of China and South-South cooperation?

admin - June 6, 2013

The Belgian NGO coalition 11.11.11 has published an interesting paper summarizing the views of 58 African civil society organizations in 11 different countries on ‘South South Cooperation’ (SSC) – mainly China’s growing role in Africa (see Economist stats, right – keep clicking to expand). It’s nuanced and an excellent counterweight to the simplifications of the ‘scramble for Africa’ diatribes in the Western press, which Deborah …

Continue reading

Is there a global crackdown on civil society organization and if so, how should we respond?

admin - July 18, 2012

I’ve got a nasty feeling that we could be heading towards a strategic train wreck on the role of civil society in development. Let me explain. Increasingly (and not just among NGOs), development is understood in terms of politics, power, and struggles to redistribute the latter. That has produced a shift in resources towards advocacy and influencing, as a complement to more direct programming and …

Continue reading