Why Should We Have to 'Represent' Anyone?
SUR - International Journal On Human Rights, v. 11, n. 20, Jun./Dec. 2014
24 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2015
Date Written: March 3, 2014
The question of “who do we represent?” has dogged the global human rights community for some time now and a recent flurry of articles have appeared that question the legitimacy of human rights and other NGOs by juxtaposing them against social or grassroots movements. Several authors have noted that because of NGO dependence on donors, their agendas and political outlook are necessarily affected and even subjugated and their links to the community are weakened. Having been involved in these debates in the Arab region for over twenty years and taking the example of Palestine as an extremely aid-dependent and politically volatile society, the author of this article takes issue with some of the assertions made, whether they concern human rights or civil society organizations more generally. Rather than pose either/or propositions, this article posits that it is important to adopt a more inclusive attitude that recognizes the diversity of approaches as enriching the creative and mutually supportive components of civil society. In Palestine, it is the very multiplicity and variety of civil society that is perhaps the only glimmer of hope in a grim political environment.
Keywords: NGOisation, Palestine, Grassroots Movements, Legitimacy, Representation
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