State Manipulation of NGOs: Government-Civil Society Relations in Egypt
Pollock, John P.
- Submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Egypt has a large and vibrant NGO sector, yet it also has restrictive laws governing NGOs, and the government has frequently cracked down on the sector, both before and after the 25 January Revolution. What explains the size and vibrancy of Egyptian civil society in the ... read moreface of this repression? After exploring the nature of the NGO sector in Egypt and the government's tools for constraining NGOs, this paper will evaluate possible answers to this question. Internal and external pressures on the Egyptian government as well as a lack of state capacity for repression might explain the size of the NGO sector. However, this paper concludes that the Egyptian government has intentionally promoted the growth of the NGO sector, while using the state's coercive power to influence these organizations. By both promoting and manipulating NGOs, the state has been able to pursue several objectives: providing social services with fewer state resources; co-opting organizations into behaving in accordance with state interests; pitting potential opposition factions against one another; and improving the state's image abroad while discrediting liberalism at home. While the Revolution in 2011 brought renewed hope for legal reform, it is unlikely that these state-civil society dynamics will change in the short term.read less