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Poverty Relief, Global Institutions, and the Problem of Compliance

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Thomas Pogge and Andrew Kuper suggest that we should promote an ‘institutional’ solution to global poverty. They advocate the institutional solution because they think that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can never be the primary agents of justice in the long run. They provide several standard criticisms of NGO aid in support of this claim. However, there is a more serious problem for institutional solutions: how to generate enough goodwill among rich nation-states that they would be willing to commit themselves to supranational institutional reforms. In the current international political climate, the implementation of such institutional reforms introduces several intractable problems, including difficulties of global coordination and enforcement. I defend the solution of NGO aid from the criticisms presented by Pogge and Kuper, and propose how it might be reformed. My main suggestion is that all practising NGOs should be required to be ‘accountable for reasonableness’ in the sense that Norman Daniels and James Sabin have outlined.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Philosophy, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada, Email:


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