"The Midas Touch: the NGO Sector in Post-Conflict Societies"
Patrice McMahon, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Nebraska (Lincoln)
In post-conflict countries, nongovernmental organizations
(NGOs) are not the first thing that you notice, but their presence is striking.
From providing humanitarian assistance to refugees, to rebuilding
infrastructure, to giving training to women, the embrace of NGOs as assistants,
collaborators, and even saviors in the country’s reconstruction is a stable of
peacebuilding exercises. What do NGOs do
in peacebuilding exercises? Why are these actors so prevalent? And, most
importantly, what are the effects, specifically in fostering local agents of
change? My research argues that peacebuilding exercises, starting in the 1990s
were based on the universal belief that peacebuilders needed to strengthen
civil society and support local partners to build peace. For good and for ill,
this translated into significant support for NGOs -- both international and
national. NGOs were supported, and strengthened because they were viewed as
effective and legitimate mechanisms for increasing political engagement,
transforming attitudes, and, ultimately, cementing peace and democratic change.
Prof. McMahon’s talk will explain the contradictory role played by the
international community in supporting NGOs in peacebuilding environments.
Patrice McMahon (PhD, Columbia University) is an Associate
Professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. McMahon’s research interests include global
governance, ethnic conflict, post-conflict reconstruction and human rights. She
is the author of Taming Ethnic Hatreds: Ethnic Cooperation and Transnational
Networks in Eastern Europe (Syracuse University Press: 2007). She recently
completed an edited volume, Statebuilding and the International Community:
Getting its Act Together? (Routledge 2012). Her work has appeared in Foreign
Affairs, Political Science Quarterly, Democratization, and Ethnopolitics,
Nov. 10, 12:30-2pm
Lunch will be served