Pheng Cheah on the relationship of NGOs and nation-states

23 Dec

“Ideally, a global civil society or public sphere would transcend nationalist interests because it would be the autonomous site of mediation between ‘humanity’ and a global political order. However, human rights NGOs do not possess the requisite autonomy. In the first place, transnational social movements occur in a decentralized political system where no supranational executive body independent of the compliance of nation-states for the enforcement of its decisions exists and where mass-based loyalty to the world of humanity is insignificant. Thus, civil-society institutions are constrained by and have to rely on the agency of nation-states and are largely defined in terms of national bases.” (Pheng Cheah, “Posit(ion)ing Human Rights in the Current Global Conjuncture,” in Transnational Asia Pacific: Gender, Culture, and the Public Sphere. eds. Shirley Geok-Lin Lim, Larry E.Smith and Wimal Dissanayake. Urbana and Chicago: Univ.of Illinois Press, 1999, p. 27; 11-42).

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