Working Paper

IDS working papers;33

The Potential for Donor Mediation in NGO-State Relations: An Ethiopian Case Study

Published on 1 January 1996

Relations between NGOs and states are often characterised by conflict, since each actor is in competition with the other for development resources.

This paper is concerned with situations in which co-operation between NGOs and the state offers benefits to both parties but where conflict remains. It begins by constructing a simple model to identify the key determinants of relations between NGOs and governments, based on NGO function and regime type. It argues that co-operation can offer potential benefits to both NGOs and states, by increasing the effectiveness of NGO projects and strengthening the capacity of local government. The case of Ethiopia illustrates that, even when co-operation is expected, blockages can occur.

These blockages are related to international processes, through which NGOs’ control over development resources is increasing relative to those of governments, and to the uncertainty generated by transitional environments. Despite the potential for donor intervention to improve NGO-state relations in Ethiopia, a review of EU-funded NGO projects reveals barriers at the institutional and policy levels which prevent the EU from performing this role. The paper proposes interventions donors can make at project and policy levels to facilitate co-operative NGO-state relations.

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Campbell, W. (1996) The Potential for Donor Mediation in NGO-State Relations: An Ethiopian Case Study, IDS Working Paper 33, Brighton: IDS.

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published by
Campbell, Will
IDS Working Paper, issue 33
1 85864 059 8


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