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General Analysis NGOs and Social & Economic Justice


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Time for New Approaches says Civil Society (May 8, 2011)

Civil society organizations at the Fourth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) have sent a strong message to leaders that conventional approaches to development have failed.  These organizations argue that economic liberalization favors the interests of developed countries, and that LDCs have been forced to submit to the demands of international financial institutions – which have not made any gains in development.  Civil society argues that new approaches to development must start with cancelling LDC debt, rethinking IMF and World Bank policies and greater acceptance of local development policies and programmes. (Terra Viva)


Charity Finds that US Food Aid for Africa Hurts Instead of Helps (August 14, 2007)

CARE, a leading humanitarian organization, is refusing US$45 million a year of US food aid after determining that US food aid is not only inefficient but in some cases it also hurts the people it is trying to help. This inefficiency results from the US purchasing food from US farmers, paying US vessels to ship the food overseas, and then donating it to aid groups who sell the food in poor countries to raise money for development projects. CARE argues that this practice hurts local production and in many cases reduces the effects of its development work. Moreover, a CARE representative says, renouncing the money will allow the organization to "candidly address the flaws in the American strategy to combat world hunger." (International Herald Tribune)

Chances of Achieving MDGs "Slim" Without Civil Society (June 28, 2007)

As governments fail to make adequate progress in achieving the UN's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), civil society plays a growing role in promoting the goals. Hundreds of NGO representatives met for the Civil Society Development Forum in Geneva, Switzerland, concentrating their agenda on the two goals of "eradicating poverty and hunger" and "creating a global partnership for development." ECOSOC President Dalius Cekuolis argues that civil society's pressure on governments and participation in policy formation are essential in reaching the MDGs; delegates from the forum will present their conclusions at the next high-level ECOSOC meeting. (Inter Press Service)

Strength in Numbers for Globalization's Critics (May 30, 2007)

Although critics of globalization come from a variety of backgrounds – such as environmentalists, church groups, and trade unions – they are "united by one movement" for social change. This Deutsche Welle article argues that anti-globalization activists should acknowledge their work "as being interrelated," while taking strength from their different perspectives.

Securing Autonomy, Retaking the Initiative (January 9, 2007)

Social movements contributed significantly to "cutting off" a majority of Latin America's right-wing governments, instead empowering more progressive administrations. Yet, while still fighting against the injustices of neoliberal policies, activists appear to have lost their prominence in mobilizing citizens. This Latin America in Movement article concludes that "without pressure from below," progressive leaders brought to power through such activism will fail to implement necessary social and economic reforms.


Multilateral Trading System: Time for a New Approach (June 26, 2006)

This letter to the trade ministers of the World Trade Organization on behalf of 131 organizations worldwide criticizes the Doha Round and suggests that more attention go to public policy priorities. Specifically, the letter finds fault with the undemocratic decision-making process among trade ministers and the overarching tendency to favor rich nations when imposing new trade laws. It proposes a new "aid for trade" plan that addresses adjustment costs and does not demand the liberalization planned under the Doha Round. (Our World Is Not for Sale)

Preface to "Global Poverty or Global Justice?" (June 2006)

Looking at structures of power and inequality in the world, this preface discusses obstacles to and prospects for achieving global justice. The lack of international democratic processes and institutions greatly impedes global justice, but it conveniently suits the interests of the "present masters of mankind." However, the author argues, great promise lies with the "global justice movement." The author finds encouragement in tendencies such as a growing realization worldwide of neoliberalism's injustices, the increasing ease with which global justice alliances can form, and mounting support for global taxation as a source of funding for development projects. (Transnational Institute)

Promises and Actions: How Can Civil Society Monitor International and National Commitments (February 27, 2006)

The article explores how NGOs monitor government action on the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). In respons to national MDG reports, NGO coalitions have produced "shadow reports" that often point out how governments fail to implement programs and overstate their achievements. This monitoring helps mobilize citizens, including the poorest and most excluded. (CIVICUS)


Poverty Campaigners Take On War Spending (October 18, 2005)

On the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, a group of established NGOs launched a new initiative called "Global Priorities." The group is the first in the campaign for social and economic justice to specifically take on the major discrepancies between military and humanitarian spending worldwide. In an event launching the initiative, former US Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb stated that at least $60 billion of the US military budget could be redirected to the campaign against poverty, "without having less security." (Inter Press Service)

Keeping the Spotlight on Geneva (August 16, 2005)

The Geneva People's Alliance will strategize ways to mobilize an NGO campaign against trade liberalization in the weeks leading up to the October General Council meeting of the WTO. Although NGOs based in Geneva play an important role in this mobilization, the movement for economic justice must foster cooperation with southern hemisphere NGOs to grow in numbers and effectiveness. (Focus on the Global South)

People Power Rattling Politics of Latin America (April 29, 2005)

A May 1, 2005 demonstration in Mexico City marked one of the largest "people power" movements in the country as citizens turned out to support a leftist politician and presidential hopeful, reports the Christian Science Monitor. With more technology and a better grasp on being "democratic and independent," Latin American citizens have asserted their opinions from Mexico to Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua. The activism marks great progress from when most Latin American dictatorships fell, says this author.

The Ethical Revolution Sweeping Through the World's Sweatshops (April 16, 2005)

After a decade of adamant attempts to deny any wrongdoing, multinational clothing companies like Nike and Gap are beginning to admit that they have abused and exploited their workers. At the same time, anti-sweatshop activists have moved away from organizing boycotts and demonstrations, and now co-operate more with companies and labor unions to improve the conditions and increase the pay of apparel workers. (Independent)

People Power Gets to G7 (February 3, 2005)

British demonstrators effectively set poverty reduction as the main agenda for the G7 finance ministers' meeting by using the political muscle of Nelson Mandela, who called for increased international aid, debt relief and trade justice at a London rally. The British "Make Poverty History" campaign joins the Global Campaign for Action Against Poverty as "one of the most powerful movements ever to gather against world poverty," reports Inter Press Service.
The 2005 World Social Forum has made "a priority of an issue such as poverty," said Brazilian President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva as he and over 1,000 NGOs called for increased efforts towards the UN's Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty by 2015. Activists support better trade relations, debt cancellation, more development aid and transparent national policies. They also urged citizens to wear white ribbons to represent hunger, the "silent tsunami" that kills millions in Africa and Asia each year. (Agence France Presse)

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