Mar 3, 2014
Julie Fisher’s book “Importing Democracy” is devoted to a very pressing topic that provokes heated debate: the opportunities and problems that arise from importing Western democratic values and models to developing countries.
The U.S. invasion of Iraq and the military operation in Afghanistan have both shown that democracy cannot be installed by force. But can it be imported “by peace”? And if so, who should be part of the process? Julie Fisher cites non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as the prominent players.
Fisher has written two other books about civil society: The first examines the impact of NGO activity on the processes of sustainable development, while the second looks at the effect of the public sector on policy making. The author’s latest work is intended to form a logical addition to her previous books and to answer the question of whether NGOs can be active participants in the advancement of democracy throughout the developing world.
A global revolution of public organizations
The author’s attention is not focused on all existing NGOs. Covering a broad sweep of organizations in various fields, Fisher highlights those that are “directly, intentionally, and knowingly engaged in the promotion of democracy.” These include human rights and women’s NGOs, and groups involved in penal reform, election monitoring, organizing public debates, and shaping civil consciousness. Noting the growing role of NGOs in contemporary political life, Fischer describes the present stage of world development as a “global revolution of public organizations.”
And that is a just remark: To solve the problems caused by globalization (the fight against terrorism, prevention of environmental and humanitarian disasters, HIV-AIDS, etc.) demands that all key players join forces, including governments, the private sector, and the public.
It is worth mentioning that NGOs often make a significant contribution in various areas of international relations — be it the settlement of disputes and conflicts, or the framing and implementation of a sustainable development concept — by offering the global community a set of tried-and-tested approaches and methodologies. Another result of globalization is the erasing of national borders, and the development and consolidation of civil networks and coalitions.
The increasing role of NGOs is also being observed in the internal politics of many countries. The state is gradually withdrawing from various spheres of traditional activity, delegating its duties to the non-commercial sector. As a result, public organizations are becoming ever more important providers of social, expert, advisory, and educational services, as well as human rights advocates and lobbyists. Overall, NGOs have become an influential force that governments acknowledge and with which they cooperate… MORE