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How the Structure of NGOs Transforms Human Rights? (Book Report Sample)


These was a brief review and summary of wendu wongs book "How the structure of ngo's transforms human rights

Internal Affairs: How the Structure of NGOs Transforms Human Rights. By Wendy H. Wong. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2012. Pp 272
Several studies have cited factors such as funding, hegemony, charismatic leadership and moral worth of a human right claim as the definitive factors that predominantly influence the relevance and success of NGO’s in the world stage. Wong, in her book, Internal Affairs: How the Structure of NGOs Transforms Human Rights posits that the political salience and success of an NGO or human rights campaign is contingent on the organizational fabric of an NGO (92). 
Drawing data from seven international human rights organization, she points out that the internal framework, distribution of agenda setting and execution power are pivotal to the prominence of politically salient NGO’s in the international landscape. She classifies advocacy into two components; topic and tactics. She propones a tripartite classification of organizational and agenda setting mechanism in human rights organizations: proposal development-who establishes the agenda, enforcement power-who administers the agenda and implementation-who executes the agenda. Proposal development and enforcement power inform the topics of advocacy whilst enforcement power informs the tactics of advocacy.
Proposal power refers to an organization’s capability to persistently propose logical cardinal ideas that direct the overall organizational goal. Wong posits that when the proposal power is centralized, NGO’s are driven by a succinct and clear agenda characterized by a streamlined and consolidated decision making unit or entity. Enforcement power is the degree of control an organization has to authorize, sanction or veto an agenda. Wong proposes that enforcement powers should also be centralized to enable NGO’s to regulate members and curb deviations from the key agenda.
However, Wong proposes that implementation power should be decentralized. Implementation according to Wong is the ability of an organization to execute its mission and tasks within and across its networks. According to her, decentralizing the power of implementation is important since it permits human rights organization to profit from local insights, expertise and resources in order to advance a resounding concrete agenda that is culturally and locally sensitive. It also serves to motivate local partners who have control and powers in this decision making phase.
In other words, Wong proposes that successful campaigns are characterized by localized grass root communities disseminating a powerful, coherent message. However, the overall success of politically salient NGO’s stems from an institutional alchemy rooted in centralized agendas, centralized enforcement powers and decentralized implementation structures that boost organizational capacity to command and shape nations, inform and revise state laws as well as initiate economic sanctions.
In the first chapter she analyses the concept of political salience proponing that salience can be gauged by international legal processes, role of NGO networks and economic sanctions (22).In the second chapter she expound on the importance of the organizational framework based on tenets of the network theory to examine the effect of internal network actors on the external authority and influence of NGO’s.
Through a comparative analysis of seven major international NGO’s she illustrates how Amnesty International unlike its counterpart Anti-Slavery International has been able to gain traction in international politics due to its centralized proposal and enforcement power along with a decentralized implementation system. Anti-Slavery International, on the other hand, though advocating for a strongly held social norm has achieved minimal success due to ...
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