NGOs, Yes or No?

By The Economist at 1:08 PM 5/30/2020 (PDT)

“Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime,” so started the discussion in non-governmental organizations by Guatemala, quoting the famous fish proverb.

The question of how to rebuild post-war economies was on everyone’s minds during the second session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). In the midst of tackling this topic, the solution of using non-governmental organizations (NGOS) to provide aid to struggling countries was brought up, with support both for and against the solution.

Those who supported the use of NGOs such as Canada, and Iraq believed that the use of an outside organization would allow the citizens to get the aid they need without government interference, especially in countries with corrupt regimes that may overlook the needs of their citizens in favor of personal profits.

The opposition to the use of NGOs, led by Pakistan and China with support from South Korea, questioned how NGOs would operate in countries with strong central governments. China granted that NGOs could be used in China, but only if they agreed to strictly follow all rules and guidelines stipulated by the Chinese government. In Pakistan, despite the citizen’s support for NGOs and the aid received, the Pakistani government has repeatedly expelled NGOs in the past, expressing their belief that their government is capable of caring for their own citizens.

Non-governmental organizations have made a difference in the past. They provide water, clothing, healthcare, vaccinations, and education to those in need. They also provide information that governments may try to suppress, such as news stores that may show the government in a negative light, and a knowledge of their rights. Guatemala followed their quoting of the proverb with a story from their own country. Devastated after their civil war, Guatemala saw the aid of various NGOs that helped to efficiently build up their economy. Today, the Guatemalan economy is one of the most profitable in Central America.

The use of NGOs seems to be a popular solution in the short term, but the details of to what extent they will be used, which specific organizations may be called on, and where they will be sent, are still to be determined.

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