Who's right?

Published: Thursday 31 July 2003

Ngowatch.org is a site in the making. But there is nothing incomplete about its intentions. It will track down non-governmental organisations (NGOs): look into their agenda/s, provide information on their source/s of funding and find out how accountable they are.

The NGO movement today has many facets to it. On the one hand, the world over, they impact government policy-making. On the other, there are many 'do-gooders' that have opened office to make pots of 'development money'. It is thus extremely important to separate these bad eggs from the basket. In this connection, a site like this one is welcome.

But is that what ngowatch.org is really about? The site is a collaborative project between the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies and the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. The latter is an extremely conservative think-tank. Its agenda has been criticised as anti-liberal. Moreover, given a context today where the US government is decidedly anti-environmental (witness its decision to no longer declare any land in the US as a wilderness area), grave misgivings arise as to the kind of 'watching' this site promises to do. What kind of 'Big Brother' has emerged in the world wide web?

Once complete, the site will contain analyses of relevant issues, treaties and international organisations. It will create a database of experts on various subjects. But what 'analyses' will it offer? Will it defend, for instance, the US' undefensible stances on multilateral agreements? Will it track down errant NGOs, or crack down on the good ones?

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