War on NGOs

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In recent decades, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have become powerful voices for democracy, human rights and environmental protection around the world. The "War on NGOs" describes a process by which governments, business groups and conservative think tanks have fought back against this process by trying to delegitamise and disempower NGOs, through both propaganda and legislative means.

Case Studies

War on NGOs in the USA

Since the 1980s, conservative groups in the US have campaigned to defund the left - eliminating government financial support for NGOs deemed to be 'liberal'. This has included campaigns to change tax legislation and lobbying for investigations by the Internal Revenue Service of many NGOs.

In 1995 conservative activist Grover Norquist told a journalist "we will hunt liberal groups down one by one and extinguish their funding sources". [1]

In 2003, two right-wing think tanks, the American Enterprise Institute and the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies established NGOWatch.org, a website to monitor the activities of NGOs. The conference which launched the website was entitled NGOs: The Growing Power of an Unelected Few.

War on NGOs in Australia

In Australia, the "War on NGOS" has been spearheaded by free-market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA).

In May 2003, the IPA signed a $54,268 contract with the Australian Government to research and write a report on the government's relationship with NGOs. [2] The IPA's report, The Protocol: managing relations with NGOs was released in April 2004.

In October 2004, the Australian federal government offered an oil company an export subsidy in return for an agreement to sue environment NGO Greenpeace Australia Pacific.

War on NGOs in Nepal

In Nepal, King Gyanedra has established a controversial NGO Code of Conduct which limits NGO activities. Since dissolving the national parliament in 2003, the King has wound back a number of democratic rights, including voting. "The code of conduct for NGOs is another onslaught in this systematic attack on democratic forces. It is not the content alone that matters, but the intent behind it as well", said Sapana Pradhan-Malla, a leading lawyer who also heads the Forum for Women, Law, and Development (FWLD). [3] NGOs fear that the Code will make it almost impossible to investigate and expose the ongoing human rights violations by both the government and the Maoist insurgents who have been fighting a guerrilla war in Nepal since 1996.

War on NGOs in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

In the lead up to national election in Kazakhstan, the parliament passed a bill to restrict the actions of NGOs, but it was overturned by the constitutional council. [4]

In the Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus has also criticised the work of NGOs in his country, remaking that "I have in mind various manifestations of N.G.O.-ism, of artificial multiculturalism, of radical human right-ism, of aggressive environmentalism. In these activities, I see new ways of endangering and undermining freedom, which those of us who lived in the communist era take very seriously." [5]

In Russia, the Kremlin has begun a campaign to portray NGOs critical of the government as foreign enemies, and NGOs loyal to the government as "good". [6]

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