Priority-setting in international non-governmental organizations: it is not as easy as ABCD

Journal of Global Ethics 8 (1):5-17 (2012)
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Abstract
Recently theorists have demonstrated a growing interest in the ethical aspects of resource allocation in international non-governmental humanitarian, development and human rights organizations (INGOs). This article provides an analysis of Thomas Pogge's proposal for how international human rights organizations ought to choose which projects to fund. Pogge's allocation principle states that an INGO should govern its decision making about candidate projects by such rules and procedures as are expected to maximize its long-run cost-effectiveness, defined as the expected aggregate moral value of the projects it undertakes divided by the expected aggregate cost of these projects? I critique Pogge's argument on two fronts: (1) I demonstrate that his view is problematic on his own terms, even if we accept the cost-effectiveness framework he employs. (2) I take issue with his overall approach because it generates results which can undermine the integrity of INGOs. Further, his approach mis-characterizes the nature of INGOs, and this mistake is at the root of his problematic view of INGO priority-setting. Ultimately, I argue for a conception of INGOs in which they are understood as ?organizations of principle?, in the sense that they are independent moral agents and so should be permitted a fairly wide sphere of autonomy within reasonable moral constraints.
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First archival date: 2011-07-29
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