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Between Samaritans and StatesThe Political Ethics of Humanitarian INGOs$
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Jennifer Rubenstein

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199684106

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199684106.001.0001

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The Quandary of the Second-Best

The Quandary of the Second-Best

Chapter:
(p.115) 5 The Quandary of the Second-Best
Source:
Between Samaritans and States
Author(s):

Jennifer C. Rubenstein

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199684106.003.0005

How should INGOs’ advocacy campaigns be conceptualized and normatively evaluated? Chapter 5 argues that two common answers to this question—that INGOs should be good non-elected representatives and good partners—are both inadequate. The reason is that both overlook the “quandary of the second-best.” In light of this quandary, this chapter argues, INGO advocacy should be conceptualized not as representation or partnership, but rather as the use of power. Correspondingly, INGO advocates should be evaluated based on how well they avoid misusing their power. Drawing on the example of ENOUGH and Global Witness’s advocacy on Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank bill (involving mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo) and Oxfam’s advocacy on health care in Ghana, this chapter argues that INGO advocates regularly misuse their power in four ways and specifies four principles—involving basic interests, displacement, arbitrary power, and “low-balling”—for minimizing these misuses.

Keywords:   Democratic Republic of Congo, representation, partnership, power, second-best actor, advocacy, displacement, low-balling, Dodd-Frank, Ghana

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