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Recent happenings from the TNGO Initiative

Interview with Ignacio Saiz, Executive Director for The Center for Economic and Social Rights

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The Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) focuses on the fulfillment of economic and social rights, such as the right to food, health, education and water. In this interview, Ignacio Saiz, Executive Director of CESR and 2011 TNGO Fellow, speaks with Tosca Bruno-van Vijfeijken about the specific challenges and opportunities in this relatively new sector within human rights advocacy.

TNGO Initiative undertakes review with PLAN USA

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The TNGO Initiative recently embarked on a collaborative research project with the U.S. branch of the transnational development NGO Plan International. The project aims to assess changes in effectiveness and sustainability of Plan’s operations as a result of the organization’s change in program strategy. By analyzing internal evaluation documents from more than 50 program countries, the researchers hope to be able to identify if and how development strategies, such as promoting community awareness and participation, strengthening accountability and responsiveness of state institutions, and fostering alliances with local partner organizations contribute to enhanced program results for transnational development NGOs. These approaches, reflected in PLAN's Child and Community Centered Development (CCCD) strategy, encompass some RBA components.


This project constitutes the second research cooperation with Plan International. In 2009, the TNGO Initiative conducted an intensive six-month strategy evaluation of Plan International’s work in Guatemala aimed at assessing the shift of Plan towards a rights-based approach (RBA)  to development. The evaluation found that rights-based approaches, as implemented by, have the potential to be a coherent and effective framework for community-based development work but require significant transformation of an organization’s practices and increase the reliance on the commitment and performance of local actors. The current project builds on these findings and aims to elaborate them by comparing evidence from a sample of other program countries.

This collaborative research project ties in with the initiative’s mission to conduct applied research, which helps to enhance the work of transnational NGOs while at the same time contributing to relevant academic debates, such as aid effectiveness or rights-based approaches to development. The results of this project are planned to be published in relevant journals and thereby accessible to interested practitioners and academics.


Hans Peter Schmitz, Uwe Gneiting and Tosca Bruno-van Vijfeijken are undertaking the review; their work will be finalized by the end of June, 2011.

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