International NGOs, Consulting Companies and Global Social Policy:
Subcontracting Governance?

11-13 December 1999 Helsinki Finland


While International NGOs and Consulting Companies are actively involved in lobbying for global social policy changes they have also increasingly been used in the past decade as subcontractors of global and supranational agencies such as the UNDP, the World Bank, and the EU as well as by a range of bilateral donors. They have become major players in the delivery of aid and technical assistance in the field of social policy (by which we mean health, education, social protection and so on).

This practice has raised a number of questions about the implications for accountable policy making and for governance at the national and supranational levels. Some of these questions are:

1 Global Social Governance:

What role do and should INGOs and Consulting Companies play in global social governance in terms of their relationship with the UN system and global financial institutions? How does this differ from the role of other parts of what might be termed global civil society? Have they a role as regulatory agencies ensuring adherence to social codes and rights? How are INGOs and Consulting Companies themselves governed? What kinds of regulatory mechanisms would promote best practice by INGOs and Consulting Companies? Can INGOs both lobby and be subcontractors?

2 Global Social Policy:

What are the dominant themes in the policy advice which INGOs and Consulting companies provide? How far is advice on global and national social policy shaped by humanitarian values and a concern with social rights, or the interests of the INGOs and Companies as potential service providers and regulators, or the views of the agencies for whom they are subcontractors? Is there an emerging common view among INGOs about global social policy? Does this reflect a northern perspective only?

3 Global Social Provision:

What is the role of INGOs and Consulting Companies in the provision of and advice about social and health services in developing and transition societies? What implications are there for governmental responsibility for universal social protection and social provision? What impacts do INGOs and International Consulting Companies have on local NGO, consulting company and civil society capacity?

These and related questions will be addressed by the speakers and the discussants at this seminar. In one of the sessions the European Union’s use of INGOs and Consulting Companies will be focused on as a case study.



Sunday 12th December 1999

10.00 Opening of the seminar by Vappu Taipale,
Director General of STAKES

10.15 Introduction to the seminar theme by Bob Deacon, Director of GASPP

10.30 Session One: Global Social Governance: Representing the Voice of Civil Society? Chair: Bob Deacon

* Julian Disney, President of the ICSW:Is there a Common INGO Platform for Copenhagen plus 5.
* Angela Wood, Bretton Woods Project:
International Campaigning, IFIs and Global Social Policy Governance
* Peter Willetts, Professor of Global Government, City University, London:INGOs and Global Social Governance by the UN.
* Discussants: Rama Baru/Eeva Ollila

2.00 SESSION TWO: Global Social Policy: INGOs, Consulting Companies and Social Policy Prescriptions. Chair: Paul Stubbs

* Richard Minns, Author of Global Pension Regimes:
The Global Pension Lobby: consulting companies and self interest
* Thandika Mkandawire, Director UNRISD (subject to confirmation):
* Consultants in Africa: their impact on local research and policy advisory capacity
* Janine Wedel, The George Washington University.
Ill Advised by the Harvard Boys: policy advice to the East
* Discussants: Tom Lindahl/Diane Stone

Monday 13th December 1999

9.00 SESSION THREE: Social Provision: Contribution of INGOs and Consulting Companies. Chair: Michael Cowen

*Kees Biekart, Transnational Institute: International Private Aid Agencies and Civil Society Building for Local and Global Governance
* Speaker to be confirmed: The Subcontracting Process: impact on service provision
* Paul Stubbs, GASPP researcher: Globalisation, Humanitarianism and the Culture of Social Policy
* Discussants: Tasneem Mowjee/David Macarov

1.00 SESSION FOUR: Subcontracted Policy and Provision: an EU Case Study Chair: Eeva Ollila

* Bob Deacon, Director of GASPP: The EU and Socially Responsible Globalisation
* Caroline de la Porte, GASPP Researcher: Do EU Consulting Companies Share EU’s Social Vision?
* Miriam van Reisen, Eurostep representative, The Netherlands: Contradictions in EU Social Development Policy.
* Discussants: Nick Manning/Nicola Yeates


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