NGO Representation and Accountability: A Skeptical View

6 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2007

Date Written: October 9, 2007


Who do NGOs represent, and to whom should they be accountable? In this brief essay, I argue that most NGOs represent only themselves, if the term is defined according to its ordinary meaning in democratic politics. But that fact should not prevent NGOs from involvement in international security issues or world politics more broadly. They play important roles both as service providers and as advocates. Given this view, NGO accountability is less of a problem than often believed, and attempts to increase accountability should be implemented cautiously, particularly for advocacy NGOs.

Keywords: NGO, accountability, NGO representation, human rights, non-profit organizations, nongovernmental organizations, transparency, globalization, civil society

JEL Classification: F00, K00, K20, K23, K32, L3, L31, D73, H30, N4

Suggested Citation

Bob, Clifford, NGO Representation and Accountability: A Skeptical View (October 9, 2007). Available at SSRN: or

Clifford Bob (Contact Author)

Duquesne University ( email )

600 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15282
United States

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