Makeover Urged for NGOs

ROME, OCT. 12, 2001 ( NGOs are overdue for a name change, contends a priest in the latest issue of the Comboni missionaries´ publication, Nigrizia.

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The title of «nongovernmental organizations» no longer reflects reality, in part because many so-called groups in fact are instruments of political involvement in Third World nations, writes Father Renato Kizito Sesana.

Groups of Christian inspiration, moreover, often seem to be moved by «un-Christian will power,» he states, echoing a criticism of Tony Waux, a past director of Oxfam, the English Catholic NGO.

Father Kizito Sesana further warns the development programs of NGOs are sometimes manipulated by the ruling class of poor countries for their own needs.

This leads, he cautions, to the risk of fostering «the corruption and irresponsibility of local politicians and bureaucrats.»

The priest contends that the time has arrived for a change in strategy.

He states that, along with material aid for poor countries, increasing attention should be paid to education, human rights and political pressure — even if aid groups risk losing government funding or being barred from entry into countries.

Thus, the NGOs would change in content and name. His proposed new name: civil society organizations, or OSCs.

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