NGOs, or Non Governmental Organizations, champion a variety of missions across the world, from clean water, to wildlife protection, to encouraging democracy and protection of human rights. So why are some countries reacting to their presence as though they are indaers trying to take over their land?
A recent article in the Christian Science Monitor discusses a growing animosity towards NGOs in countries like Russia, the United Emirates and India. As writer Dan Murphy states:
(NGOs have) attracted the attention and fear of governments that see them as fifth-columns who exist to undermine their leaders and practices. Much of this verges on conspiracy theory, with claims that the role of such groups is to specifically destroy existing governments.
A specific attack come is Russia, where President Putin has pushed through legislation that threatens to hobble the NGOs efferts.
Russia passed a law last year requiring NGOs that receive foreign money to either register as “foreign agents” or give up the cash, and has been vigorously enforcing it of late. More than 500 nongovernment organizations, who do election monitoring, human rights work, and run anticorruption efforts, are under investigation as deserving of the label.
Amnesty International reports on their site that crackdowns run across several countries, with extre,me measures being taken, as in this report on Sudan:
Working on development, human rights and peace has become increasingly difficult in Sudan. In the last month, at least three NGOs have been closed and their staff harassed and questioned by the National Security Service (NSS). Worryingly, this crackdown is expected to continue in the coming weeks.
Moving forward, NGOs must be aware of public and government perception of their missions, in order to keep going and improve the world. In the case of Egypt shutting down and arresting members of an NGO, the fear seems to be the undermining of government, or a political cause. From the Atlantic:
Egypt recently arrested members of a number of democracy-promoting NGOs operating in that country and threatened to prosecute them amid concerns expressed by many Egyptians that they were meddling in Egypt’s internal affairs. Egyptian officials were responding in part to reports that three U.S. NGOs–NDI, Freedom House and the International Republican Institute–had received some $65 million to press their views in Egypt on how that country should conduct its government. They said this was “illegal foreign funding” to influence their elections.
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See also: Five Steps to NGO Success >>