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The backlash against NGOs

In a global world without global government, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have stepped in to fill the gap. But there is now a backlash against their unaccountable power. Have they become too big for their boots?

When 122 countries agreed to stop using and selling land mines in December 1997, the success was attributed not to the work of tireless government officials, but to the 1,000 or so non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in 60 countries which had lobbied ministers on the issue for years. At the signing ceremony in Ottawa, Jody Williams, the campaign’s coordinator, remarked that NGOs had come into their own on the international stage. “Together,” she said, “we are a superpower.”

Her words have a significance far beyond the land mines treaty. They encompass a shift in the balance of power in international…

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