Tuesday, September 1, 2015

HHH Prof. Ron co-authors article on gov't restrictions on NGOs, around the world


reprinted from Stanford Social Innovation Review 
 
 
Foreign Disentanglement 

To counter restrictions on NGO activity, local groups need to reduce their dependence on international financial support.

This past April, the Indian government suspended the operating license of Greenpeace-India and froze the group’s bank accounts. Citing “national interest” and “ national security,” government officials alleged that Greenpeace was undermining India’s economy with its environmental campaigns. In the same month, the government placed the Ford Foundation on a security “watch list.” According to officials, the foundation was fomenting “communal disharmony” by funding Sabrang, a controversial Mumbai-based nongovernmental organization (NGO). These moves followed a government order (issued in October 2014) that instructed more than 10,000 India-based NGOs to report the amount, the source, and the use of each foreign contribution. By early this year, only 229 NGOs had filed the required reports, and the government responded to this lack of compliance by canceling the operating licenses of nearly 9,000 groups.

India’s crackdown on foreign funding to local NGOs is part of a broad trend. Consider Russia, where legislation passed in 2012 requires locally operating NGOs to register with a special government body before they can receive foreign aid. Although the legislation applies only to groups that engage in “political activities,” the Russian government defines that term so broadly that it encompasses virtually any effort aimed at influencing Russian state policies. NGOs that receive funding from non-Russian sources, moreover, must identify themselves as “foreign agents” in their communication material—a requirement that only heightens their sense of vulnerability. According to our research, dozens of governments worldwide have passed similar laws, and officials in many other countries are now considering measures of this kind.

In recent years, international donors have placed great hopes on the NGO sector. They believe that NGOs—uncorrupted by the power of either the purse or the sword—are ideal vehicles for fostering development and promoting democracy. These warm feelings toward NGOs derive in part from the experience of advanced Western democracies. In countries such as the United States, nonprofit groups and social movement organizations have mobilized resources from local communities to confront important social, political, and economic problems. Crucially, people in those countries view such entities as belonging to “us” rather than “them.” Local fundraising helps make these groups accountable and provides them with political legitimacy.

Many NGOs in the developing world, however, cannot operate effectively without the financial support of foreign entities, and such funding typically flows through digital services that governments can easily monitor. That model involves built-in legitimacy problems: No community, after all, wants to be subject to the influence of wealthy external actors. The reliance of NGOs on foreign money also gives governments significant leverage over them. If the activities of an NGO bring it into conflict with its national government, officials can swiftly neutralize the group by blocking the international wire transfers that fund it.

Local NGOs’ dependence on foreign funding, while providing vital resources, renders them vulnerable to governmental pressure and social stigma. If NGOs want to preserve their independence, we believe, then they must learn to raise funds from people in the countries they serve. Along with helping to insulate them from legal threats, local fundraising efforts will boost their legitimacy among local populations.

Why Crackdowns Occur
To understand how and why laws that restrict foreign aid to NGOs spread, we systematically combed through legal records and NGO reports to tally the governments that passed such laws between 1993 and 2012. In our research, we focused on low- and middle-income countries. Of the 153 countries that fall into that category, 39 adopted restrictive legislation during that 20-year period. This figure represents a significant increase: Before 1993, only 6 countries had restricted foreign funding to local NGOs.

These restricting governments exist in all parts of the globe, but the majority of them are in countries that the World Bank labels as “low-income.” Not surprisingly, many of these governments receive substantial overseas aid. For the 39 countries that restrict aid, the median annual assistance package comes to $750 million—which is nearly double the median amount of annual aid that all countries in our sample receive. Indeed, international aid accounted for 7.5 percent of the gross domestic product of the median restricting country. In their political structure, most restricting countries are semi-authoritarian: On a widely used scale that ranges from minus-10 (for full autocracies) to plus-10 (for full democracies), they have an average rank of 5.

Significantly, most of these countries had also experienced meaningful political contestation before they adopted measures to restrict NGO activity. In fact, 62 percent of them had held a competitive national legislative or executive election during the four years that preceded adoption of such measures. Many restricting countries, therefore, are what political scientists call “competitive authoritarians.” In such states, incumbents maintain power with the help of formal democratic institutions, but they skew election results by manipulating media coverage, campaign funding, and electoral procedures.

To identify crackdown triggers, we ran statistical models that correlate the onset of restrictions on NGO foreign aid with various risk factors—national income, regime type, international political alliances, and so on. We found that inflows of foreign aid were an important risk factor: The more aid that a country received from abroad, the more likely that country’s government was to crack down on such aid. This pattern was especially notable, we discovered, after a nationally competitive election. The interaction of domestic political uncertainty with large flows of international aid makes incumbents extremely nervous.

The mechanism that drives this result, we believe, is political fear. Increasingly, foreign donors are bypassing national governments and sending aid to local NGOs in the hope that these groups will use the money more effectively—and more transparently—than government agencies would. Rulers fear this flow of money to NGOs in part because the latter groups have real or perceived ties to political challengers. The more foreign aid that comes into a country, the more fearful incumbents become—and the more inclined they are to crack down on NGOs that receive such aid. The NGOs, meanwhile, are highly vulnerable to these assaults.

Take the example of Ethiopia. In 2010, the Ethiopian government passed the Charities and Societies Proclamation Act, which prohibits politically active NGOs from raising more than 10 percent of their budget from foreign sources. In particular, the law targets groups that work on issues related to human rights, democracy, gender, religion, the rights of children and the disabled, conflict resolution and reconciliation, law enforcement and criminal justice, and elections and democratization.
The new law—as we note in a study published in 2014—caused most human rights organizations in Ethiopia to close down entirely. In some instances, organizations that engage in a wide variety of activities were able to survive by discontinuing the human rights component of their work, or by relabeling such work. But by drastically reducing local NGOs’ access to foreign aid, the government ended an array of human rights efforts in one fell swoop. The Ethiopian public, for its part, was unable or unwilling to make up for the loss of funding. Nor did it protest the regulatory crackdown in a robust way.

How NGOs Can Survive
Foreign funding often has this contradictory effect. In the short term, it fosters the creation of highly professional, advocacy-oriented NGOs that are able to achieve real momentum in the development of civil society. Over time, however, aid from abroad erodes the need for local financial and political support, even as it poses an increasing political threat to anxious, semi-authoritarian rulers. In the wake of nationally competitive elections, this combination often becomes toxic: Governments restrict the flow of outside aid, and local NGOs cannot mobilize the domestic support that they need to survive. In these instances, the provision of international aid to local NGOs becomes a classic example of good intentions gone awry.

In the 1982 movie Gandhi, the eponymous leader of the Indian independence movement receives a visit in prison from an English friend of his. When the friend asks Gandhi how he can help the movement, Gandhi responds: “I think, Charlie, that you can help us most by taking that assignment you’ve been offered in Fiji. … I have to be sure … that what we do can be done by Indians alone.” Even in the direst of circumstances, Gandhi followed a strategy that focused on self-reliance.
For many NGOs that operate in low-income countries, a decision to raise much of their funding from in-country sources will pose a serious challenge. Yet estimates by the Gallup polling firm show that even in poor countries, people do give money to charitable causes. Today, however, that money generally goes to traditional charitable organizations—to schools, hospitals, religious institutions, and the like. To tap into domestic sources of funding, Western-supported NGOs will need to adjust their messaging, their operating style, and their hiring practices. International donors can provide incentives, as well as material support, for NGOs to begin that adjustment process.

Government crackdowns on NGO activity are a consequence of incumbent political insecurity, coupled with the fact that NGOs have no local base of financial or political support. To fight back, NGOs must redouble their efforts to cultivate resources within their own countries. Doing so will not only weaken the hold that governments have over them but also make them more accountable and more attentive to local needs. International donors, for their part, must recognize that they cannot simply purchase civil society engagement or economic development. This isn’t to say that international support doesn’t matter; often it does. More often than not, however, it matters only when domestic institutions are strong in their own right. If people in developing and formerly Communist countries want to have a vibrant NGO sector, they must learn to pay for it.
Tracker Pixel for Entry


Kendra Dupuy is a doctoral candidate in political science at the University of Washington and a researcher at the Chr. Michelsen Institute, an international development research organization based in Bergen, Norway.

James Ron holds the Harold E. Stassen Chair of International Affairs at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and in the Department of Political Science at the University of Minnesota.

Aseem Prakash is a professor of political science and the Walker Family Professor for the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington. He is also director of the Center for Environmental Politics at that university.






Nonprofits & NGOs

Foreign Disentanglement

To counter restrictions on NGO activity, local groups need to reduce their dependence on international financial support.
(Illustration by Justin Renteria)
This past April, the Indian government suspended the operating license of Greenpeace-India and froze the group’s bank accounts. Citing “national interest” and “ national security,” government officials alleged that Greenpeace was undermining India’s economy with its environmental campaigns. In the same month, the government placed the Ford Foundation on a security “watch list.” According to officials, the foundation was fomenting “communal disharmony” by funding Sabrang, a controversial Mumbai-based nongovernmental organization (NGO). These moves followed a government order (issued in October 2014) that instructed more than 10,000 India-based NGOs to report the amount, the source, and the use of each foreign contribution. By early this year, only 229 NGOs had filed the required reports, and the government responded to this lack of compliance by canceling the operating licenses of nearly 9,000 groups.
India’s crackdown on foreign funding to local NGOs is part of a broad trend. Consider Russia, where legislation passed in 2012 requires locally operating NGOs to register with a special government body before they can receive foreign aid. Although the legislation applies only to groups that engage in “political activities,” the Russian government defines that term so broadly that it encompasses virtually any effort aimed at influencing Russian state policies. NGOs that receive funding from non-Russian sources, moreover, must identify themselves as “foreign agents” in their communication material—a requirement that only heightens their sense of vulnerability. According to our research, dozens of governments worldwide have passed similar laws, and officials in many other countries are now considering measures of this kind.
In recent years, international donors have placed great hopes on the NGO sector. They believe that NGOs—uncorrupted by the power of either the purse or the sword—are ideal vehicles for fostering development and promoting democracy. These warm feelings toward NGOs derive in part from the experience of advanced Western democracies. In countries such as the United States, nonprofit groups and social movement organizations have mobilized resources from local communities to confront important social, political, and economic problems. Crucially, people in those countries view such entities as belonging to “us” rather than “them.” Local fundraising helps make these groups accountable and provides them with political legitimacy.
Many NGOs in the developing world, however, cannot operate effectively without the financial support of foreign entities, and such funding typically flows through digital services that governments can easily monitor. That model involves built-in legitimacy problems: No community, after all, wants to be subject to the influence of wealthy external actors. The reliance of NGOs on foreign money also gives governments significant leverage over them. If the activities of an NGO bring it into conflict with its national government, officials can swiftly neutralize the group by blocking the international wire transfers that fund it.
Local NGOs’ dependence on foreign funding, while providing vital resources, renders them vulnerable to governmental pressure and social stigma. If NGOs want to preserve their independence, we believe, then they must learn to raise funds from people in the countries they serve. Along with helping to insulate them from legal threats, local fundraising efforts will boost their legitimacy among local populations.

Why Crackdowns Occur

To understand how and why laws that restrict foreign aid to NGOs spread, we systematically combed through legal records and NGO reports to tally the governments that passed such laws between 1993 and 2012. In our research, we focused on low- and middle-income countries. Of the 153 countries that fall into that category, 39 adopted restrictive legislation during that 20-year period. This figure represents a significant increase: Before 1993, only 6 countries had restricted foreign funding to local NGOs.
These restricting governments exist in all parts of the globe, but the majority of them are in countries that the World Bank labels as “low-income.” Not surprisingly, many of these governments receive substantial overseas aid. For the 39 countries that restrict aid, the median annual assistance package comes to $750 million—which is nearly double the median amount of annual aid that all countries in our sample receive. Indeed, international aid accounted for 7.5 percent of the gross domestic product of the median restricting country. In their political structure, most restricting countries are semi-authoritarian: On a widely used scale that ranges from minus-10 (for full autocracies) to plus-10 (for full democracies), they have an average rank of 5.
Significantly, most of these countries had also experienced meaningful political contestation before they adopted measures to restrict NGO activity. In fact, 62 percent of them had held a competitive national legislative or executive election during the four years that preceded adoption of such measures. Many restricting countries, therefore, are what political scientists call “competitive authoritarians.” In such states, incumbents maintain power with the help of formal democratic institutions, but they skew election results by manipulating media coverage, campaign funding, and electoral procedures.
To identify crackdown triggers, we ran statistical models that correlate the onset of restrictions on NGO foreign aid with various risk factors—national income, regime type, international political alliances, and so on. We found that inflows of foreign aid were an important risk factor: The more aid that a country received from abroad, the more likely that country’s government was to crack down on such aid. This pattern was especially notable, we discovered, after a nationally competitive election. The interaction of domestic political uncertainty with large flows of international aid makes incumbents extremely nervous.
The mechanism that drives this result, we believe, is political fear. Increasingly, foreign donors are bypassing national governments and sending aid to local NGOs in the hope that these groups will use the money more effectively—and more transparently—than government agencies would. Rulers fear this flow of money to NGOs in part because the latter groups have real or perceived ties to political challengers. The more foreign aid that comes into a country, the more fearful incumbents become—and the more inclined they are to crack down on NGOs that receive such aid. The NGOs, meanwhile, are highly vulnerable to these assaults.
Take the example of Ethiopia. In 2010, the Ethiopian government passed the Charities and Societies Proclamation Act, which prohibits politically active NGOs from raising more than 10 percent of their budget from foreign sources. In particular, the law targets groups that work on issues related to human rights, democracy, gender, religion, the rights of children and the disabled, conflict resolution and reconciliation, law enforcement and criminal justice, and elections and democratization.
The new law—as we note in a study published in 2014—caused most human rights organizations in Ethiopia to close down entirely. In some instances, organizations that engage in a wide variety of activities were able to survive by discontinuing the human rights component of their work, or by relabeling such work. But by drastically reducing local NGOs’ access to foreign aid, the government ended an array of human rights efforts in one fell swoop. The Ethiopian public, for its part, was unable or unwilling to make up for the loss of funding. Nor did it protest the regulatory crackdown in a robust way.

How NGOs Can Survive

Foreign funding often has this contradictory effect. In the short term, it fosters the creation of highly professional, advocacy-oriented NGOs that are able to achieve real momentum in the development of civil society. Over time, however, aid from abroad erodes the need for local financial and political support, even as it poses an increasing political threat to anxious, semi-authoritarian rulers. In the wake of nationally competitive elections, this combination often becomes toxic: Governments restrict the flow of outside aid, and local NGOs cannot mobilize the domestic support that they need to survive. In these instances, the provision of international aid to local NGOs becomes a classic example of good intentions gone awry.
In the 1982 movie Gandhi, the eponymous leader of the Indian independence movement receives a visit in prison from an English friend of his. When the friend asks Gandhi how he can help the movement, Gandhi responds: “I think, Charlie, that you can help us most by taking that assignment you’ve been offered in Fiji. … I have to be sure … that what we do can be done by Indians alone.” Even in the direst of circumstances, Gandhi followed a strategy that focused on self-reliance.
For many NGOs that operate in low-income countries, a decision to raise much of their funding from in-country sources will pose a serious challenge. Yet estimates by the Gallup polling firm show that even in poor countries, people do give money to charitable causes. Today, however, that money generally goes to traditional charitable organizations—to schools, hospitals, religious institutions, and the like. To tap into domestic sources of funding, Western-supported NGOs will need to adjust their messaging, their operating style, and their hiring practices. International donors can provide incentives, as well as material support, for NGOs to begin that adjustment process.
Government crackdowns on NGO activity are a consequence of incumbent political insecurity, coupled with the fact that NGOs have no local base of financial or political support. To fight back, NGOs must redouble their efforts to cultivate resources within their own countries. Doing so will not only weaken the hold that governments have over them but also make them more accountable and more attentive to local needs. International donors, for their part, must recognize that they cannot simply purchase civil society engagement or economic development. This isn’t to say that international support doesn’t matter; often it does. More often than not, however, it matters only when domestic institutions are strong in their own right. If people in developing and formerly Communist countries want to have a vibrant NGO sector, they must learn to pay for it.
Tracker Pixel for Entry
- See more at: http://ssir.org/articles/entry/foreign_disentanglement#sthash.tiKaHucy.dpuf

Sept 17 Role of NGOs in Global Health

Thursday, September 17, 2015    3:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Malcolm Moos Health Sciences Tower
Room 2-520
515 Delaware Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455


Dr. R. Balasubramaniam (Balu) is a development activist and leadership consultant from Mysore, India. During this seminar, Balu will draw on his experience of working with NGOs at various levels over the last 3 decades to describe their unique role in addressing global health issues. He will also describe the role NGOs play in changing the discourse on global health in the context of the geo-politics and economics of global health.

RSVP requested, but not required.

Note that the 2nd floor is one level below street level. Location and parking information.

MINN hosting 2 career events in Sept--"Getting Hired" & Networking

MINN 3rd Annual Getting Hired
Wednesday, September 16

MINN Event: Meet MINN! (Networking at The Local)
We also have a networking event on Wednesday, September 23http://www.minnesotangos.org/event/minn-event-meet-minn-networking-local

Forum for International NGO Practitioners in Minnesota

The Minnesota International NGO Network (MINN) is a forum for international practitioners and supporters to learn, network and exchange professional expertise. It is MINN’s vision to be the leader in providing a collaborative environment for Minnesota international NGOs to learn and exchange ideas.  Our efforts result in innovative and effective solutions that enrich the lives of the global community.

Whether you are new to the world of international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) or a seasoned veteran, MINN is your forum to connect with colleagues and stay aware of what other NGOs based in Minnesota are doing around the world.


Shane Dill
Communications Manager, MINN
Minnesota International NGO Network
Follow MINN Online | minnesotangos.org

US Dept of State seeking Social Worker LNA

We are currently accepting applications for Social Worker LNA positions.

Social Worker LNAs will have multifaceted responsibilities in the Embassy which includes but is not limited to the assessment of psychiatric issues, conflict resolution, consultation on violence in the workplace, and crisis management training.

All potential applicants are strongly urged to read the entire vacancy announcement to ensure that they meet all of the requirements for this position before applying. When you are ready to begin the online application process, visit the Social Worker LNA vacancy on USAJOBS. Please note that the deadline to submit completed applications is September 16, 2015.

Applicants must be U.S. citizens and at least 20 years old to apply. They must be at least 21 years of age to be appointed. By law, all career candidates must be appointed to the Foreign Service prior to the month in which they reach age 60. Applicants must also be available for worldwide service, and be able to obtain all required security, medical and suitability clearances.

If you have any questions or would like to search for topics of interest, please visit our forums or FAQs at careers.state.gov.

We appreciate your interest in a career with the U.S. Department of State.

US Dept of State Summer 2016 Student Internship

We are now accepting applications for the U.S. Department of State Summer 2016 Student Internship Program (unpaid).

Please visit http://careers.state.gov/intern/student-internships for more information about the U.S. Department of State Summer 2016 Student Internship Program (unpaid), and to start the online application process via USAJobs. Please note that the deadline to submit completed applications is October 16, 2015.

Visit USAJOBS.gov to view the announcement: U.S. Department of State Summer 2016 Student Internship Program (unpaid).

We highly encourage you to complete and submit your application as soon as possible.

If you have any questions or would like to search for topics of interest, please visit our forums or FAQs at careers.state.gov.

We appreciate your interest in a career with the U.S. Department of State.

Minneapolis #18 on list of best bike cities in the world--List of used bike shops in Twin Cities


"Minneapolis muscles its way into the Copenhagenize Index - the first American city to feature since the number of cities ranked increased in 2013."  http://copenhagenize.eu/index/18_minneapolis.html
 
List of used bicycle shops in Minneapolis & Saint Paul


Minneapolis

The Hub Bike Co-op, 3020 Minnehaha Ave., 612-729-0437 (M-F 10-9, Sat 10-6, Sun 12-6)


Sunrise Cyclery 612-824-6144 901 W. Lake Street (Tues-Fri 12-9, Sat/Sun 10-6, closed M)


Full Cycle, 3515 Chicago Ave., 612-824-7581 (hours Tues & Th 12-6, F 10-4)


One on One, 117 North Washington Ave., 612-371-9565  (M-F 11-7, Sat 10-5, closed Sun)


Recovery Bike Shop, 2504 Central Ave NE, 55418 (Mon-Fri open 10 AM to 8 PM, Sat open 10 AM to 6 PM, Sun open 11 PM to 6 PM)


Saint Paul

Express Bikes, 1158 Selby Ave., 651-644-9660 (M-F 12-7, Sat 10-5, closed Sun)


Lowertown Bike Shop 253 East 4th Street, Suite 76,The Jax Building
55101 (Tue-Fri open 1 PM to 9 PM, Sat open 10 AM to 6 PM, closed Sun and Mon)


Cycles for Change see for hours: http://www.cyclesforchange.org/about (also teach classes how to ride, how to ride in city), 651-222-2080, 712 University Avenue, 55104


Minnesota Online

Twincities Bicycle Trading Post on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/484338698280283/?pnref=lhc



Join the What Is the U of M Zap! Program--Get your bike tagged at HHH Front Desk


Where Do I Get Started?

  1. Get your bike(s) tagged at the University Bike Center (see location) (or HHH Front Desk) or watch for our mobile "ZAP Zone" tent to pop up around campus. A tag will be attached to the front wheel of your bike and you will be given a web address to register yourself. You must visit the bike center during normal business hours.
  2. Bike to campus past at least one ZAP reader. There are approximately 20 readers on campus (See map of RFID reader locations), so you shouldn't have to go out of your way.
  3. Students can win cool stuff and employees can earn Wellness rewards. You can also form teams for competition and track your miles, CO2 saved and calories burned on your personal Zap! web page.

Monday, August 31, 2015

HHH Prof. Chan participant in Harvard Project Workshop with Beijing Research Institute

One of the two workshops Prof. Gabe Chan participated in in Beijing this summer is now summarized online, in this brief article: http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/publication/25678/harvard_project_coorganizes_workshop_with_beijing_research_institute.html

 The Harvard Project on Climate Agreements co-organized a workshop on China-U.S. collaboration on climate-change policy on June 25–26, 2015 in Beijing. The workshop was hosted and co-organized by the National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation, a research institute within the National Development and Reform Commission (a key policy-making organization in the government of the People's Republic of China).  


The workshop focused on three topics:
I. The formulation and comparison of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs)—the commitments that national governments will make at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference in Paris in December 2015. China, the United States, and approximately 24 other countries had submitted their INDCs as of August 17, 2015. The workshop was premised on the view that a better understanding of the INDC process—including approaches to the comparison of efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions—could help advance:

  1. The equity of the Paris agreement;
  2. The use of domestic market mechanisms and the crediting of these toward INDCs;
  3. Linkage among emissions-trading systems and among heterogeneous mitigation-policy systems. A major advantage of linkage would be to reduce the aggregate cost of emissions abatement in participating jurisdictions;
  4. Increasing the ambition of mitigation commitments over time.
II. Collaboration between China and the United States with regard to the design and implementation of cap-and-trade systems, which both countries are employing—currently on a sub-national level (seven regional pilot programs in China and, i
n the United States, California and the northeastern states).

III. The intersection of trade and climate policy: How China-U.S. trade might be affected by domestic policies and international agreements to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions; and how China and the United States can collaborate to magnify possible trade benefits and reduce possible trade risks of the movement toward low-carbon societies.

Available for download below are the agenda for the workshop, biographies of participants, presentations made by participants, and English and Chinese versions of a one-page description of the project, of which this workshop was a part. A policy brief is being prepared for an event at the December 2015 climate-change conference, based largely on the proceedings of the workshop.

Participants in the workshop, "Bilateral Cooperation between China and the United States: Facilitating Progress on Climate-Change Policy"
NCSC Photo, posted by Harvard Belfer Center

reprinted
August 26, 2015
Author: Robert C. Stowe, Executive Director, Harvard Environmental Economics Program; Manager, Harvard Project on Climate Agreements
Belfer Center Programs or Projects: Harvard Project on Climate Agreements

Harvard Project on International Climate Agreements, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

© 2015 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved. The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer. Privacy Statement