Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Government Dept.


Ariel Armony

Second Advisor

Paul Josephson


The reaction of the first world to the persevering plight of a large part of the third world varies. In response to the sometimes glaring disparities, many international organizations and multinational corporations have recently adopted a pro-development rhetoric with relation to the problem of global poverty. However, the rhetoric rarely translates into action. As David Bacon discusses, leaders of corporations and organizations now tend to conclude their speeches by expressing a desire to reduce the suffering of the third world. However, when it comes to agreeing on specific concessions that could indeed improve the world-wide economic situation, first world countries are reluctant to act. A good example of this type of behavior is the current negotiation of the WTO, the “development round of Doha,” in which the United States along with the European Union pressure countries of the developing South to open up their markets, while at the same time refusing to remove or even decrease their own agricultural subsidies. The first world civil society observes the behavior of international organizations and western based multinational corporations as ineffectual. Taking the matter in its own hands, especially in the past couple of decades, this civil society has created a countless number of development-oriented nongovernmental organizations. These are supposed to compensate for the lack of action by international organizations. Development NGOs are believed to be more locally responsive as well as free of business or political considerations in choosing their strategies, and thus generally more efficient than IOs. However, if they really were how they are alleged to be, the problems of the third world would already be ameliorated by a significant amount, if not completely eradicated. Do development-NGOs indeed possess the characteristics that they claim to possess? What is their real affect on human rights? And how effective are they in their work?


Non-governmental organizations, Effectiveness, El Salvador, Law and legislation, Child labor, Human rights