Don’t Get Disempowered!

Don't Get Disempowered!How a Human Rights Movement gets disempowered?
By Sunil Babu Pant, Blue Diamond Society

Activists from the ‘global south’ hear, far too often, from our donors that we should ‘Learn how to become professional, make your NGO management efficient’.

Let’s decode what “becoming professional” means and what “efficient management means”:

1) Professional means a person engaged or qualified in a profession. ‘Profession’ is the key word here, and donors would like to make sure that you become a ‘professional’ activist, and want to see you taking it (human rights work) as a profession.

2) Efficient management means performing or functioning in the best possible manner with the least waste of time and effort. For conventional NGOs this means achieving targets, writing professional reports and submitting it in a timely manner. To really understand the “danger” of becoming efficient, you must compare it with effectiveness. Being effective is about doing the right things, while being efficient is about doing things right (no matter how far you have moved away from human rights ‘activism’ to be part of an efficient management team).

As soon as a well-meaning group of activists start the process of becoming a NGO, the problem begins. No matter what is said at the outset about the ‘NGOs being free to act the way they have envisioned’, the truth is that the NGOs are deeply indebted by donors, well-funded NGOs are even worse. This is start of a ‘professional’ submission to a system that repeatedly dis-empowers and controls the movement, denies the freedom of a human rights movement to do what it is supposed to do, all slogans of ‘grassroots-led and empowerment’ not-upheld.

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Sign-On: Letter to Dr. Tedros

Tedros towards FCGHThere is a new Director General at the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. During the recent WHO election process, Dr. Tedros had often mentioned that helping the poor and marginalised is his primary concern, and that adequate health care for all is essential.

There is also a new NGO in formation, the FCGH Alliance, dedicated to advancing the development of an international treaty based on the right to health, the Framework Convention on Global Health (FCGH).

Below is a letter to Dr. Tedros requesting his support to advance this proposed global treaty, which would make it legally-binding on governments to assure that everyone’s right to health is realised, sooner rather than later. If you agree with the letter, please add your name and/or civil society organization to the list of signatures by clicking here. Help us to inform Dr. Tedros that a broad  group of people from civil society want real (legally-binding) change – not just nice sound-bites about those already left out and behind.
Thanks in advance.

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Dear Director-General Tedros,

Congratulations on your appointment to be the next WHO Director-General. As you assume the sacred global trust as head of the World Health Organization, no doubt you feel the mighty responsibility of your office, with its tremendous potential for bringing better health to the world’s people – and above all, to the poor, marginalized, left behind, discriminated against – people to whom you have long voiced great commitment. We were heartened to hear you state so powerfully upon your appointment that WHO must “put the right to health at the core of its functions, and be the global vanguard to champion them.”

One powerful tool to do just that is a proposed Framework Convention on Global Health (FCGH), which would be a global treaty based on the right to health and aimed at national and global health equity. It could help put the right to health not only at the core of WHO’s functions, but also at the core of the global policy agenda. We call upon you to use your legal and moral authority to initiate a WHO process towards this treaty, with its transformative promise.

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