World Bank “coopted NGOs”

15 December 1999

The Economist (11th December 1999) carried a lengthy article on NGO campaigning on international institutions. Arguing that national governments and international organisations have lost out to the rise of NGOs, it states that “in 1994, protesters dominated the World Bank’s anniversary meeting and forced a rethink of the Bank’s goals and methods”. It continues:

“James Wolfensohn has made dialogue with NGOs a central component of the institution’s work, building alliances with everyone, from religious groups to environmentalists. His efforts have diluted the strength of ‘mobilisation networks’ and increased the relative power of ‘technical NGOs’ (for it is mostly these that the Bank has co-opted). From environmental policy to debt relief, NGOs are at the centre of World Bank policy. Often they determine it. The new World Bank is more transparent, but it is also more beholden to a new set of special interests”.

The article has already stimulated some useful discussions and responses.