THIS! Earlier this week I read this piece by Anthony Banbury. As Assistant Secretary General to the United Nations, it was a pretty big deal for people in the development sector to hear that he decided to resign from his position and come out publicly about gross mismanagement of the United Nations.
I've got to be completely honest, in that I totally agree with everything he had to say. And I think most people in the development world resonated with him in some way. The United Nations is facing some of the biggest social challenges of human history. And, it is only as strong and united as its member nations. But it has only EVER been as strong and united as its member nations. For people to expect more of the organisation is reasonable but not necessarily achievable without the willingness of its members to cooperate (herein lies the problem). The apathetic nature of governments in dealing with their own social issues back in their home countries is reflective of how they deal with and whether or not they work with their neighbouring countries on cross-boundary social issues.
And that alone is not what Banury takes issue with. He talks about how the United Nations bureaucratic red tape gets in the way of the organisation being able to carry out its work effectively and efficiently - something everyone knew anyway. And it's not just the U.N. Look at any large international NGO, development organisation or simply NGOs in your own home country. There is often the same complacency, lack of innovation and lack of actual willingness to put themselves out of a job. For those in development, you often talk about doing the work that you do, and making it such a success that you put yourself out of a job. Meaning that, you have enabled a community or environment to be sustainable, in that it no longer needs your support and should no longer need your support. How many NGOs do you know that have this at the top of their mind every single day?
Anyway, these are big questions and ideas to consider. I'm still exploring and looking for answers. In the meantime, I urge you to have a read of Banbury's piece and let me know what you think about it in the comments below. I also want to know your experiences and thoughts of bureaucratic red tap hindering development, cross-boundary co-operation AND whether NGOs should be thinking about how to put themselves out of jobs.