Abstract: During the United Nations’ first Development Decade (the 1960s), NGOs forged a place for themselves within the professional world of long-term development. Within this context, one British organisation – Oxfam – asked a straightforward question: does aid work? To answer, it appointed its own ‘aid appraiser’. This article examines what happened when the organisation was confronted with his reports. The self-perpetuating nature of development work has long been observed. How Oxfam responded to self-critique shows that the capacities for organisations to engage in self-assessment, absorb criticism, expand and maintain a positive vision of their future direction were evident as soon as appraisal began.
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Our new issue has a dossier on human rights ritualism as its centerpiece, from which we are featuring Zachary Manfredi’s piece on the Russell Tribunal. Also in the issue are three articles on atrocity propaganda, Oxfam’s history, and the uses and abuses of measurement in global malnutrition assessment. Finally, the issue rounds out with a review on recent books on humanitarian advocacy.View entire issue >
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