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close this bookNGO Guidelines for Good Policy and Practice (Commonwealth Foundation)
close this folderPart I: NGOs: what they are and what they do
close this folder8. The framework of relationships within which NGOs operate
View the document(introduction...)
View the document8.1 A complex pattern of relationships
View the document8.2 Relationships with government: key issues
View the document8.3 Relationships with government: ways forward
View the document8.4 Relationships with funders: key issues
View the document8.5 Relationships with funders: ways forward
View the document8.6 Other strategies to strengthen relationships

8.3 Relationships with government: ways forward

It will be clear from the foregoing that good, understanding, and respectful relationships between NGOs and governments emerge in part from good, clear information. Mystery breeds suspicion and misunderstanding. Open and accessible information, of the kind referred to in Chapter 6, between government and NGOs, fosters good relationships.

In addition, communication between NGOs and government through regularly convened fora help a great deal. There are many examples of good practice already:

In one African country for example, there is a formal structure and process through which the government involves and seeks the views of NGOs when policies are being formed.

In other countries, government conferences accredit NGOs to attend. In at least one northern country, for example, there is a close working relationship between the Ministry concerned with overseas development and the principal NGOs, expressed through regular dialogue as well as contracts for service and grants.

Many people point to the value of the establishment of a central unit within government which co-ordinates and acts as a signpost between NGOs and all government ministries. This is the case in at least one country. But some people feel that such a unit may hinder rather than foster effective communication.

There are therefore many ways in which NGOs and governments are developing the dialogue essential to good relationships between them. In general, however, more needs to be done.