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Noam Schimmel on NGOs' accountability



Noam Schimmel’s article about the NGO sector was recently published on the UC Berkeley Blog. Specifically, the article titled “Accountability, Ethics, and Integrity in the Human Rights, Development, and Humanitarian Aid Sector” is discussing NGO accountability.

In his writing, Noam explains that “NGOs are able to romanticize their own workings [and] that the inevitable gap between their rhetoric and reality, between their stated aims and actual practices, often goes overlooked and they are held unaccountable.”

In other words, organizations such as Oxfam and Save the Children, UN agencies including UNICEF and UNDP, and human rights NGOs like Oxfam and Amnesty International, have long benefited institutionally from a lack of rigorous evaluation of their practices and accountability for the very human rights laws and principles they seek to defend.

Noam believes that this has been possible due to the perceived sacrality of their stated aims, and that it is time to recognize their power and to hold them accountable.

The interests, views, and experiences of the people and communities that human rights, development, and humanitarian NGOs serve—and with whom they are meant to collaborate in an equitable and respectful partnership—are structurally different from those of donors.

Engaging with all of these organizations directly, honestly, openly, and in a spirit of constructive criticism is one essential strategy to hold NGOs accountable.

  • Noam’s article is available in full here.