What role do NGOs play

The role of non-governmental organizations in the globalization debate


In recent years the number and importance of NGOs has increased. Friedrich Kitschelt, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), sees the non-governmental organizations as indispensable partners in the political dialogue. On the one hand, NGOs are partners of the BMZ and play an essential role in mobilizing development policy engagement among the population. On the other hand, they are also critical vis-à-vis the ministry, but also the multilateral organizations and the EU. A trusting relationship has been established between the BMZ and civil society through a variety of dialogue and cooperation mechanisms. NGOs are also indispensable in promoting change processes and in critical monitoring of their implementation. According to Silke Roth, University of Southampton, NGOs play a central, albeit contradicting, role in the globalization debate. It is true that after the end of the Cold War they made an important contribution to political education and the democratization process. Since the 1990s, however, the politicization and instrumentalization of the NGOs that have hitherto been regarded as neutral have been increasingly discussed. In the opinion of Achim Brunnengräber, FU Berlin, the climate for "civil society" is becoming harsher. The room for maneuver of civil society actors will be drastically restricted and the progress already made in democratization will be reversed. In contrast, Matthias Bauer, European Center for International Political Economy (ECIPE), Brussels, sees the influence of NGOs, especially on public opinion on issues of globalization, stronger than ever before. Public opinion about TTIP in Germany and Austria is a testament to the new power of the NGOs, which, instead of providing balanced information about the opportunities and consequences of free trade agreements, are fundamentally opposed to free trade.

Document Type: