Hegemonic Relationships: Donor Countries and NGOs in Western Balkan Post-Conflict Reconstruction

In: Southeastern Europe
Nikolaos Tzifakis
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Asteris Huliaras University of Peloponnese

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The impact of Non-Governmental Organizations’ reconstruction activities in Bosnia and Kosovo was largely determined by the nature and content of two dominant relationships. The first is the donor countries-International NGO (INGO) relationship. To grasp the importance of this relationship, it suffices to mention that, at the global level, donors give around five times more funds to INGOs (and more precisely to their own national NGOs) than to Local NGOs (LNGOs). The second is the International NGO-LNGO relationship. With respect to the first relationship, donor countries had a clear hegemonic position vis-à-vis INGOs. In turn, INGOs developed a hegemonic position towards LNGOs. These hegemonic relationships undermined the quality and effectiveness of aid disbursed and failed to promote the development of an open and democratic civil society. More interestingly, although most donors and INGOs got involved in the post-conflict reconstruction of both countries, very weak learning processes seem to have operated in the region. A comparative examination of the two reconstruction efforts reveals that the manifestation of many inefficiencies and failures was indeed even more acute in Kosovo than in Bosnia.

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