Development and NGO’s

Lord Soley

The sad news of the death of Dr Woo and her colleagues comes at the same time as the news that a UK policeman has been shot and killed in Afghanistan.

In many ways this goes to the heart of the problem in Afghanistan and some other developing country’s. It may be a long time ago but when John Reid was Secretary of State for defence he expressed the hope that UK troops would leave Afghanistan without firing a shot. A naive but genuine hope said in the knowledge that troops were being sent under the UN to provide stability for the government that would allow development to take place. The UN was emphasising the importance of rights for woman not just because the organisation believed it was right but because the evidence was very strong that without women’s rights development was far less likely to happen.

The problem for NGO’s is that they are inevitably challenging the power base of groups who oppose development and who maintain power by enforcing the status quo. So health care that improves the position of woman poses a political challenge. Sadly in this situation NGO’s are inevitably part of the political process. In the early days of the Afghan conflict with the UN forces the Taliban and others decided to target volunteers , civil servants, teachers and others so John Reid’s optimistic hope that UK troops would leave without firing a shot failed. This problem is not unique to Afghanistan – it is more starkly reported in te UK because our troops are under fire but it is happening in other countries where those supporting development are in conflict with those who feel threatened by that development.

13 comments for “Development and NGO’s

  1. Croft
    09/08/2010 at 1:08 pm

    Oh come now Lord Soley that’s rose tinted. The West imposed a new government on AfG to create a stability to assist its military aims. The UN/West’s values are being imposed on/in AfG, both directly/governmentally and indirectly via NGOs and others, the AfG government’s mandate is marginal at best to endorse any such policies on the country as a whole.

    The Taliban and many other elements (perhaps the population as a whole in a conservative country) were/are always going to react to this sort of imposition of ‘foreign values’ and its not credible to believe that it’s attributable to the opposition making a calculated judgement that ‘health care that improves the position of woman poses [them] a political challenge’

  2. 10/08/2010 at 12:16 pm

    Here again we see linguistic, verbal, semantic and rhetoric conflict; at least two different “languages” continually hold silently-conflicting-mind-sway, at the “Peace Table”; and thus are impossible to reach agreement through.

    Small wonder each affected-party is prepared to resort to “defence”, “sanctions”, “terrorism”, and “warfare” in order to maintain one or more of its own vital-needs.
    There has to be a common-understanding, and for that there has to be a common-language.

    And for that there has to be the Friendly Method III for Needs, Hows, and Affordable-Costs recognition and participatorily-cooperative win-win-win problem-solving, for problems and conflicts there still are a-plenty.

    First, each affected party needs to agree the language-vocabulary;

    Second, each needs to identify and agree every level of Need from the individual’s need, up through the women’s need, the children’s need, and the men’s need; and the whole-of-Afghanistan’s need; and of course the same levels of needs in every Other involved nation.

    Without having the same meanings and senses, the “values” are bound to clash.

    How can we even begin to think of “rights” when there is not no just agreement about needs, hows, and affordable-costs ? but only continual “minefields” wherever any side tries to walk-in-peace once the talk-in-peace has failed ?
    Also sabotaging this “common-mind” need, surely a “right” is a legal-permission to satisfy a “need” rather than being that need ?

    and as such, that Need needs to be agreed;

    then, How that Need would be best met (and by ‘whom’) needs to be agreed;

    then, what that ‘whom’ can afford to pay to meet the cost of satisfying that Need, needs to be agreed;

    and only after successfully completing that sequence can the matter of “right” to meet that Need be sanely and effectively brought to the whole Problem-Solving and/or Conflict-Resolution parleying-table.
    We have to agree what must be in the cart, but not to ruin that by putting the cart before the horse; a very bad mistake we are still making whenever we try to become “empowered” before we have built sufficient ability to apply that power skilfully, wisely, and win-win-win peacefully.

  3. Lord Soley
    Clive Soley
    10/08/2010 at 4:19 pm

    Croft – you have a remarkable ability to see the worst in a democracy and the best in a dictatorship.
    Can I suggest a reading of Jean-Paul Sartre’s Roads to Freedom to get a feel for what happens to democracies that forget why it is important to speak up for freedom? An act of committment is important – a wishy washy libralism is not real liberalism

    • Gareth Howell
      11/08/2010 at 7:55 pm

      “The West imposed a new government on AfG to create a stability to assist its military aims”

      and economic, oil pipe line economic.

      Don’t forget that the Taliban is known to have “freedom” fighters from all countries of Central Asia from the Uighurs of Western
      China ….to the occasional Arab.

  4. Lord Blagger
    10/08/2010 at 9:58 pm

    Don’t we have a dictatorship in the UK?

    After all you get to decide on laws, and not the rest of us.

    One defining feature of any dictatorship is not allow any voter a vote on an issue.

    You just get the sham in some cases of deciding who gets to trough next.

    Still no answers by the way from any lord as to what’s been done to clear up the expenses mess there.

    Bar the cps prosecuting a poster on this board for fraud.

  5. Croft
    11/08/2010 at 10:41 am

    “you have a remarkable ability to see the worst in a democracy and the best in a dictatorship.”

    I don’t think I said a thing in favour of dictatorship feel free to point out where I did – though I find it remarkable how naive people are in thinking that invading a country, setting up a government and constitution according to the west’s preference is in any way democratic or not guaranteed to provoke dissent at best and violence at worst.

    Invocations about democracy would have more power if the west actually practised it – rather we continue to support and indeed facilitate corrupt and fraudulently elected leaders when they suit our interests.

  6. baronessmurphy
    11/08/2010 at 10:02 pm

    Croft, here here, or is it hear hear? I share the feeling we are too easily misled into interference by our own practical interests. In the end the nation,tribe, whatever, has to find their own solutions, ours are never likely to be ideal. Isn’t the AfGh war merely about the cushion between the west and the fall of Pakistan to fanatics, (a backstop to India) not about Afghanis and what they want? And we’re probably losing any way. The women of Pakistan will find their own solutions if they want them. That may sound complacent; it’s not meant to be, I just think we are unlikely to help by military intervention. We may of course delay the collapse of Pakistan by military means but I don’t think we should kid ourselves we have much to contribute to the Afghan people.

    • Croft
      12/08/2010 at 5:02 pm

      Certainly I think ‘women’s rights’ became a convenient fig leaf to try to placate those unhappy with the military intervention. The invasion stands or falls on the assessment of the threat Afg posed to the west and can’t be justified by any good works real or attempted during ongoing conflict. I think you are correct that Afg is seen by many decision makers as some modern version of Eisenhower’s domino theory. N Pakistan is where much of the Taliban operates in some level of safety and from which it could easily return to Afg. There is obviously a powerful lesson from history in the way Afg was a focus of western interest during the soviet occupation only to be abandoned when policy changed.

      I have no objection to the west helping when genuinely asked by those with the real mandate from the populus but we favour or turn a blind eye to those we help/hinder at great risk as the population will rightly suspect our motives and poison any benefits to our attempts to help.

      Senex: Rory Stewart (The Places in Between) has a nice introduction to many of the complexities of the different regions/cultures/families/tribes/religions/races/beliefs that make Afg just so difficult to design a central one size fits all model.

  7. Senex
    11/08/2010 at 10:11 pm

    Wiki the wonder has a section on Badakhshan where Dr Woo and her colleagues were believed to be returning from. Apart from being based upon an 11th edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica 1911, it mentions that the regions main religions are Ismaili and Sunni Islam. The Ismaili group was new to me so I followed the links.

    Wow! Such complexity which led to another historic group the Kharijites; having read about them I was struck by the similarity of today’s extremist Islam and their historic predecessors. Their beliefs and practices say:

    “Kharijites thought that the outcome of a conflict can only be decided in battle (by God) and not in negotiations (by human beings)”

    The Kharijites had a particular axe to grind with non-believers. They felt only those without sin worthy and as all other Muslims were not free of sin they had an axe to grind with them too. They were bad, very bad and we must be thankful they are not around today. But is this necessarily true? The sect split up into many sub-sects and I’m beginning to wonder whether the Taliban now qualifies as a sub-sect?

    There was a link to Islamic military jurisprudence and one of its rules states that women should not be killed neither should anybody that gives charity. Indeed, Islam expressly prohibits the killing of non-combatants. The Taliban inability to negotiate and their continuing belligerency is a trait typical of the Kharijites.

    The recent politics of the Taliban leadership are noteworthy in that elements want to kill anybody they feel are aiding their enemy whilst others want to observe Islamic military jurisprudence. If the Taliban are not Kharijite then their core leadership is certainly exhibiting Kharijite tendencies. Is there a degeneration taking place?

    The links Part I, II and III give an idea of the wonderful work that NGOs do for the civilian population especially in Badakhshan and the personal sacrifice and courage of individuals that offer their charity freely. Shame on whoever killed those people they must be sought out and punished in accordance with sharia law.

    Ref: Badakhshan, Part I: AFGHANISTAN
    Badakhshan, Part II: THE WESTERN PAMIRS
    Badakhshan, Part III: THE EASTERN PAMIRS
    Islamic Military: Ethics of Warfare; Civilian Areas
    Kharijite: Beliefs and Practices

  8. Lord Soley
    Clive Soley
    12/08/2010 at 1:31 pm

    I think Vietnam was right to invade Cambodia to remove Pol Pot. I think India was right to invade East Pakistan (now Bangladesh)to remove that dictatorship. I think Tanzania was right to remove Idi Amin. I think NATO was right to intervene in Kosovo. I think unless we are clear about extreme dictatorships then the world will never achieve peace.

    • Croft
      12/08/2010 at 5:18 pm

      “I think unless we are clear about extreme dictatorships then the world will never achieve peace.”

      But where exactly is the clarity? There are plenty of dictatorships; many extremely nasty ones committing genocide and routine torture etc. The West has removed elected leaders because they opposed their policies – hardly a sign of principle. Certainly we have removed some dictators but not obviously any but those who threatened the west or had some key economic resource. We allow most to carry on regardless doing nothing more than making self-righteous and sanctimonious criticisms about their actions with no intent to act.

      I’m all for your claity then when/if it is real. I have no objection to removing dictators abusing their people but it has to be on that basis – not removing those we dislike and propping up those who serve our interests.

  9. puniselva
    15/08/2010 at 1:39 pm

    Tribunals capture world’s attention, Ved Nanda(Prof of International Law, Denver University), 6 August 2010:
    ”The new international criminal tribunals are unique, and are indeed a matter of pride for humanity. They send an unequivocal message that those committing egregious violations of human rights will be held accountable — no one is above the law and impunity will no longer be tolerated. …”

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