Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Johanna Kalb theorizing international development NGOs

Johanna Kalb, a joint degree student at Yale Law School and Johns Hopkins SAIS, has a new article out in the Texas International Law Journal on theorizing international NGOs in international development work. 41 TXILJ 297 (Spring 2006). I read it on Westlaw; it doesn't seem to have been posted yet to SSRN.

I confess I ran into it when curious about who had cited me and for what. Kalb is dealing with a very important issue of how NGOs fit into the world of international development. I don't agree with everything she says, but the issue is very, very important and this is an important contribution to thinking about it. I strongly recommend it (and hope, for the sake of it getting the wide audience it deserves worldwide, that it be posted to SSRN soon).

Ms. Kalb cites to a piece I wrote in the European Journal of International Law back in 2000 on the Ottawa Convention; that piece is concerned especially with the lack of democratic accountability of international NGOs. David Rieff and I have a more systematic presentation of that argument, actually, in a newer article - chapter in the leading yearbook on international NGOs, Civil Society 2004/5, edited by Mary Kaldor, Helmut Anheier, et al. That chapter is available at SSRN, here. I think it is a cleaner presentation of the thesis in the Ottawa Convention article.

A lot of my professional life away from this blog is actually about international development and development finance. I don't write about it that much here, not because it's not important, but because much of the time I'm busy doing it. One of the few things that I've written about it in a sort of theoretical vein was in 2002, at SSRN, here, on theorizing microcredit. But much of my work in these areas is pretty finance lawyer practical - the organization I work with, on media development, just created and sold the very, very, very first NGO issued derivative financial product, a swap note issued on the Zurich stock exchange a few months ago through Vontobel bank group. You can read about it, here. Unfortunately, it is fairly technical even for law professors who, on this blog, mostly come here for law of war and public international law, not finance. But it is a major milestone in international nonprofit finance, please take my word for it. I should write more in this area, I know.

Anyway, please read Ms. Kalb's article. We need much more thinking and writing in this area, and this article is a strong contribution to that.