Stigmatization of international nongovernmental organizations as naive
INGO representation and activity is occasionally assessed as naive because of the lack of sophistication or qualification of those involved. Typically this assessment is made in the light of INGO representation to delegates at intergovernmental meetings or to staff members of IGO secretariats. It contributes to the negative image of INGOs in general and is reinforced by it, even in cases where there is no objective basis for any such assessment. It is particularly unfortunate when powerful INGOs enter into relationships with intergovernmental agencies (under category A or I consultative status) in which it is of benefit to them to label other INGOs as naive in order to reinforce their own position.
It is only too easy to accuse a body of naivety when it seeks with inadequate personnel and resources to defend some subtle human value ignored by some well-supported agencies pursuing a politically non-controversial programme. Concern with peace and disarmament in the midst of an arms race is surely naive. Concern with the protection of some species threatened by industrial development is also surely naive. As is concern with the rights of a minority group neglected by a democratic majority. The creation of an International Astronautical Federation in 1950 could only be considered naive by the majority of the academic and intergovernmental community, as must be the recent concern expressed within the International Astronomical Union that attempts to send radio messages to distant planetary systems might attract unwelcome (rather than welcome) attention. The irony of the assessment of INGOs as naive is that more often than not it is a reflection on the assessor rather than the assessed. When an IGO representative complains that the INGOs that make contact with him (or come to his meetings) are naive, he may even be correct. Intergovernmental agencies have set up such an unfruitful environment for contact with INGOs that many INGOs and their representatives avoid such contact because there are more effective forms of action those that do not either have special introductions (and are therefore labelled 'effective') or are in the process of learning what a waste of time such contacts may be. The latter group may perhaps be legitimately labelled as naive, although the assessment is about as useful as labelling a high school student as naive before he has graduated.
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