CSSH: Sociology Talks "Identifying aspects of institutional corruption within NGO work in Turkey", by Nilay Kavur on November 20

Author: CSSH

Sociology Talks "Identifying aspects of institutional corruption within NGO work in Turkey", by Nilay Kavur  

20 November (Wednesday), 12:00-13:30 

Room: SOS 143


This paper is based on a research on the (in)applicability of human rights on ‘refugees’ and migrants. The applicability of certain rights heavily depends on the power relationships between the sovereign state, supra-national organizations, private donors, civil society organizations, the European Union policy makers. Allocation of funds from the Global North to the Global South through sovereign, central states, the United Nations agencies and various NGOs determine and also are determined by the power relations. Most specifically, funding is depended on border control, rise of far-right, and the migration deals. Identifying the recipient of the financial aid is significant, which connotes to the commercialization of NGO work. Almost all of the NGO representatives speak ‘off the record’ on their finances and operations depending on their relations with the state, with the UN agencies and with the donors. Managerialism, i.e. measuring of success through key performance indicators, is a factor leading NGOs to divert from their main objectives in order to fulfill the criteria set by the funders. This indicates an ‘institutional corruption’; basically, the diversion from achieving institutional purpose as a result of various influences and motivations in the means to reach the goal. In the institutional corruption framework, problematizing is not about targeting a few ‘bad apples’ in the system but identifying factors which lead to the diversion of the whole network from the original aim, in this case, ensuring the rights of migrants. 

Both the ‘refugees’ and the NGO workers in Turkey are in the midst of the sovereign states, the UN and private funders, effecting the applicability of human rights; directing the researcher to deconstruct the universalization and normativity of the human rights discourse. Based on my previous qualitative research with NGOs’ working environment, I plan to continue conducting interviews with various types of NGOs in Turkey, which is the top child ‘refugee’ country as well as host to the largest number of ‘refugees’ in the world. Eventually, I aim to obtain results over distribution of resources and provide an analysis of how NGOs negotiate, strategize, divert and/or resist that speak to the Sociology of Human Rights. In this presentation, I will share data from a recent research conducted with 31 different NGOs in 2017 and published as “What is left from ‘off the record’: politics about ‘refugee’ children in Turkey in the midst of the EU, the UN, the state, NGOs and donors”. Upon this background, I would like to use this opportunity to share the design of my future research in which I plan to look more in depth into the power relations and NGOs’ negotiation power in the field of migration.



Nilay Kavur obtained her PhD in the Doctorate of Cultural and Global Criminology program at the University of Kent (the UK) and Eötvös Loránd University (Hungary) in 2016. She has worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Willem Pompe Institute for Criminal Law and Criminology, Utrecht University in the Netherlands. Her research interests lie on the sociology of law, sociology of human rights, social policy on migration and mobility, criminal justice, imprisonment studies and organized crime. Holding a critical view to the liberal, individualist language of human rights, she is particularly interested in studying the applicability of the rights discourse for people in the margins, such as the migrant children and children in the criminal justice system. Currently, she is an adjunct lecturer in the Sociology Department at Koç University.