NGO Accountability

I found this story in the Financial Times thanks to Dave Chandler’s “Strategic CSR” newsletter:
US tackles controversial issue with conviction

(You can sign up to receive Dave’s weekly newsletter by emailing him at

The recent conviction of six US-based animal rights activists for inciting threats and harassment as part of a campaign against an animal testing company may come to mark a turning point in the way the country tackles extremism.
The activists were tried under anti-terrorism laws and face jail terms of up to three years. The case sent a signal that the US was getting tough with those involved in such activity.

A tactical shift towards “secondary and tertiary targeting” of those with links to drug companies started to emerge in the late 1990s, with the emergence of a new style of activist group.

Among the most prominent was Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (Shac), which has run a long campaign against the medical research company Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS).

Shac’s secondary targeting tactics included the website publication of contact details of companies and suppliers linked to HLS, urging supporters to write and telephone the companies to pressure them to stop doing business with HLS.

I don’t have much to add, except to quote part of what Dave Chandler said about it in his newsletter:

To what extent does an NGO have the right to disrupt the lawful business of a firm just because it believes its [own] goals and values are correct? Adopting a stakeholder perspective does not mean that a firm must adopt and implement the demands of any stakeholder, irrespective of the validity of the claim or the representative nature of the stakeholder group. Issues of accountability extend to NGOs in the same way that they extend to companies.

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