This collection of essays from the FP archives explores the promise of NGOs, the problems they can create, and the issues they face amid widespread crackdowns around the world.—Chloe Hadavas

Over the years, there have been many critiques of NGOs. Journalist Michael Hobbes has written about how NGOs, among other entities, have “turned the language of human rights into meaningless babble.” But, as Ronald R. Krebs and James Ron have argued , NGOs can also be a powerful force for democracy.

“Why do Middle Eastern leaders loathe NGOs?” asked FP’s Steven A. Cook in 2018. “The answer,” he wrote, “is more complicated than Westerners tend to think.” According to Cook, it’s not just that NGOs have the potential to undermine authoritarian governance; they also threaten a nation’s sovereignty and, sometimes, are seen as a form of neocolonialism.

“Why do Middle Eastern leaders loathe NGOs?” asked FP’s Steven A. Cook in 2018. “The answer,” he wrote, “is more complicated than Westerners tend to think.” According to Cook, it’s not just that NGOs have the potential to undermine authoritarian governance; they also threaten a nation’s sovereignty and, sometimes, are seen as a form of neocolonialism.

Over the years, there have been many critiques of NGOs. Journalist Michael Hobbes has written about how NGOs, among other entities, have “turned the language of human rights into meaningless babble.” But, as Ronald R. Krebs and James Ron have argued, NGOs can also be a powerful force for democracy.

This collection of essays from the FP archives explores the promise of NGOs, the problems they can create, and the issues they face amid widespread crackdowns around the world.—Chloe Hadavas

How corporations, activists, and politicians turned the language of human rights into meaningless babble, according to Michael Hobbes.

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz welcomes Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi at Riyadh international airport on November 10, 2015.

Western promoters of democracy aren’t seen as a threat to individual rulers but as a reminder of colonial history, FP’s Steven A. Cook writes.

Indian police clash with protestors on the beach at Idinathakarai village near the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in southern Tamil Nadu on September 10, 2012.

The war against foreign-funded NGOs—from India to Israel—is harming democratic governance, not enhancing it, Ronald R. Krebs and James Ron write.

Chinese President Xi Jinping poses after delivering his speech.

The Chinese government is using every means at its disposal to do battle with NGOs, Rana Siu Inboden writes.

Women are seen making food and holding food containers in a kitchen.

NGOs are essential to Venezuelan society. A new law may lead to their collapse, Tony Frangie-Mawad writes.