Non-governmental organization

Non-governmental organization

Overview
A non-governmental organization (NGO) is a legally constituted organization created by natural
Natural person
Variously, in jurisprudence, a natural person is a human being, as opposed to an artificial, legal or juristic person, i.e., an organization that the law treats for some purposes as if it were a person distinct from its members or owner...

 or legal persons that operates independently from any government
Government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

. The term originated from the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 (UN), and is normally used to refer to organizations that do not form part of the government and are not conventional for-profit business. In the cases in which NGOs are funded totally or partially by governments, the NGO maintains its non-governmental status by excluding government representatives from membership in the organization.
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Encyclopedia
A non-governmental organization (NGO) is a legally constituted organization created by natural
Natural person
Variously, in jurisprudence, a natural person is a human being, as opposed to an artificial, legal or juristic person, i.e., an organization that the law treats for some purposes as if it were a person distinct from its members or owner...

 or legal persons that operates independently from any government
Government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

. The term originated from the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 (UN), and is normally used to refer to organizations that do not form part of the government and are not conventional for-profit business. In the cases in which NGOs are funded totally or partially by governments, the NGO maintains its non-governmental status by excluding government representatives from membership in the organization. The term is usually applied only to organizations that pursue some wider social
Society
A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations...

 aim that has political
Politics
Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the...

 aspects, but that are not overtly political organizations such as political parties
Political party
A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to influence government policy, usually by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political office. Parties participate in electoral campaigns, educational outreach or protest actions...

. Unlike the term "intergovernmental organization", the term "non-governmental organization" has no generally agreed legal definition. In many jurisdictions, these types of organization are called "civil society organizations" or referred to by other names.

The number of internationally operating NGOs is estimated at 40,000. National numbers are even higher: Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 has 277,000 NGOs; India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 is estimated to have around 3.3 million NGOs in year 2009, which is one NGO for less than 400 Indians, and many times the number of primary schools and primary health centres in India.

Definition of NGO


NGOs are difficult to define and classify due to the term’s inconsistent use. NGO, non-profit organizations within defined boundaries excludes NGOs that fall outside each specific boundary. Additionally, it is beneficial for NGO networks to create a classification that allows similar organizations to exchange information more easily. To attempt a classification of NGOs requires a framework, that includes the orientation and the organization's level of operation. An NGO's orientation refers to the type of activities an organization takes on. These activities might include environmental, development, or advocacy work. An NGO's level of operation indicates the scale at which an organization works on, like the difference in work between an international NGO and community or national NGO.

One of the earliest mentions of the term "NGO" was in 1945, when the UN was created. The UN introduced the term "NGO" to distinguish between the participation of international private organizations and intergovernmental specialized agencies. According to the UN, all kinds of private organizations that are independent from government control can be recognized as "NGOs." "NGOs" cannot seek to diminish a nation's government in the shape of an opposing political party; NGOs also need to be non-criminal and non-profit. Professor Peter Willets, from the City University of London, argues the definition of NGOs can be interpreted differently by various organizations and depending on a situation’s context. He defines an NGO as “"an independent voluntary association of people acting together on a continuous basis for some common purpose other than achieving government office, making money or illegal activities." In this view, two main types of NGOs are recognized according to the activities they pursue: operational and campaigning NGO’s. Although Willets proposes the operational and campaigning NGOs as a tool to differentiate the main activities of these organizations, he also explains that they have more similarities than differences. Their activities are unrestricted; thus operational NGOs may need to campaign and campaigning NGOs may need to take on structural projects.

NGO consultative status with ECOSOC:


In order to be eligible for a consultative status, an NGO must have at least two years of existence, which requires to have been properly registered with the respective authorities and government. The organizations must have a democratic constitution, representative authority, established headquarters, accountability for transparent and democratic decision-making and be independent from government control.

NPOs and NGOs


Common usage varies between countries - for example NGO is commonly used for domestic organizations in Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 that would be referred to as non-profit organization
Non-profit organization
Nonprofit organization is neither a legal nor technical definition but generally refers to an organization that uses surplus revenues to achieve its goals, rather than distributing them as profit or dividends...

s in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. Such organizations that operate on the international level are fairly consistently referred to as "non-governmental organizations", in the United States and elsewhere.

There is a growing movement within the non-profit organization
Non-profit organization
Nonprofit organization is neither a legal nor technical definition but generally refers to an organization that uses surplus revenues to achieve its goals, rather than distributing them as profit or dividends...

/non-government sector to define itself in a more constructive, accurate way. The "non-profit" designation is seen to be particularly dysfunctional for at least three reasons: 1) It says nothing about the purpose of the organization, only what it is not; 2) It focuses the mind on "profit" as being the opposite of the organization's purpose; 3) It implies that the organization has few financial resources and may run out of money before completing its mission. Instead of being defined by "non-" words, organizations are suggesting new terminology to describe the sector. The term "social benefit organization" (SBO) is being adopted by some organizations. This defines them in terms of their positive mission. The term "civil society
Civil society
Civil society is composed of the totality of many voluntary social relationships, civic and social organizations, and institutions that form the basis of a functioning society, as distinct from the force-backed structures of a state , the commercial institutions of the market, and private criminal...

 organization" (CSO) has also been used by a growing number of organizations, such as the Center for the Study of Global Governance. The term "citizen sector organization" (CSO) has also been advocated to describe the sector — as one of citizens, for citizens. These labels, SBO and CSO, position the sector as its own entity, without relying on language used for the government or business sectors. However, some have argued that CSO is not particularly helpful, given that most NGOs are in fact funded by governments and/or profit-driven businesses and that some NGOs are clearly hostile to independently organized people's organizations. The term "social benefit organization" seems to avoid that problem, since it does not assume any particular structure, but rather focuses on the organization's mission.

History


International non-governmental organizations have a history dating back to at least 1839. It has been estimated that by 1914, there were 1083 NGOs. International NGOs were important in the anti-slavery movement and the movement for women's suffrage
Women's suffrage
Women's suffrage or woman suffrage is the right of women to vote and to run for office. The expression is also used for the economic and political reform movement aimed at extending these rights to women and without any restrictions or qualifications such as property ownership, payment of tax, or...

, and reached a peak at the time of the World Disarmament Conference
World Disarmament Conference
The Conference for the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments of 1932-34 was an effort by member states of the League of Nations, together with the U.S. and the Soviet Union, to actualize the ideology of disarmament...

. However, the phrase "non-governmental organization" only came into popular use with the establishment of the United Nations Organization in 1945 with provisions in Article 71 of Chapter 10 of the United Nations Charter for a consultative role for organizations which are neither governments nor member states—see Consultative Status
Consultative Status
Consultative Status is a phrase whose use can be traced to the founding of the United Nations and is used within the UN community to refer to "Non-governmental organizations in Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council." Also some international organizations could...

. The definition of "international NGO" (INGO) is first given in resolution 288 (X) of ECOSOC on February 27, 1950: it is defined as "any international organization that is not founded by an international treaty". The vital role of NGOs and other "major groups" in sustainable development
Sustainable development
Sustainable development is a pattern of resource use, that aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations to come...

 was recognized in Chapter 27 of Agenda 21
Agenda 21
Agenda 21 is an action plan of the United Nations related to sustainable development and was an outcome of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992...

, leading to intense arrangements for a consultative relationship between the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 and non-governmental organizations.

Rapid development of the non-governmental sector occurred in western countries as a result of the processes of restructuring of the welfare state
Welfare state
A welfare state is a "concept of government in which the state plays a key role in the protection and promotion of the economic and social well-being of its citizens. It is based on the principles of equality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth, and public responsibility for those...

. Further globalization
Globalization
Globalization refers to the increasingly global relationships of culture, people and economic activity. Most often, it refers to economics: the global distribution of the production of goods and services, through reduction of barriers to international trade such as tariffs, export fees, and import...

 of that process occurred after the fall of the communist system and was an important part of the Washington consensus
Washington Consensus
The term Washington Consensus was coined in 1989 by the economist John Williamson to describe a set of ten relatively specific economic policy prescriptions that he considered constituted the "standard" reform package promoted for crisis-wracked developing countries...

.

Globalization during the 20th century gave rise to the importance of NGOs. Many problems could not be solved within a nation. International treaties
Treaty
A treaty is an express agreement under international law entered into by actors in international law, namely sovereign states and international organizations. A treaty may also be known as an agreement, protocol, covenant, convention or exchange of letters, among other terms...

 and international organizations such as the World Trade Organization
World Trade Organization
The World Trade Organization is an organization that intends to supervise and liberalize international trade. The organization officially commenced on January 1, 1995 under the Marrakech Agreement, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade , which commenced in 1948...

 were centred mainly on the interests of capitalist enterprises. In an attempt to counterbalance this trend, NGOs have developed to emphasize humanitarian issues
Humanitarianism
In its most general form, humanitarianism is an ethic of kindness, benevolence and sympathy extended universally and impartially to all human beings. Humanitarianism has been an evolving concept historically but universality is a common element in its evolution...

, developmental aid and sustainable development
Sustainable development
Sustainable development is a pattern of resource use, that aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations to come...

. A prominent example of this is the World Social Forum
World Social Forum
The World Social Forum is an annual meeting of civil society organizations, first held in Brazil, which offers a self-conscious effort to develop an alternative future through the championing of counter-hegemonic globalization...

, which is a rival convention to the World Economic Forum
World Economic Forum
The World Economic Forum is a Swiss non-profit foundation, based in Cologny, Geneva, best known for its annual meeting in Davos, a mountain resort in Graubünden, in the eastern Alps region of Switzerland....

 held annually in January in Davos, Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

. The fifth World Social Forum in Porto Alegre
Porto Alegre
Porto Alegre is the tenth most populous municipality in Brazil, with 1,409,939 inhabitants, and the centre of Brazil's fourth largest metropolitan area . It is also the capital city of the southernmost Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul. The city is the southernmost capital city of a Brazilian...

, Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, in January 2005 was attended by representatives from more than 1,000 NGOs. Some have argued that in forums like these, NGOs take the place of what should belong to popular movements of the poor. Others argue that NGOs are often imperialist in nature, that they sometimes operate in a racialized manner in third world
Third World
The term Third World arose during the Cold War to define countries that remained non-aligned with either capitalism and NATO , or communism and the Soviet Union...

 countries, and that they fulfill a similar function to that of the clergy during the high colonial era. The philosopher Peter Hallward
Peter Hallward
Peter Hallward is a Canadian political philosopher, best known for his work on Alain Badiou and Gilles Deleuze. He has also published works on post-colonialism and contemporary Haiti...

 argues that they are an aristocratic form of politics. Whatever the case, NGO transnational networking is now extensive. ;;;;

Types of NGOs


NGO type can be understood by orientation and level of co-operation.

NGO type by orientation
  • Charitable orientation;
  • Service orientation;
  • Participatory

  • Empowering orientation;


NGO type by level of co-operation
  • Community- Based Organization;
  • City Wide Organization;
  • National NGOs;
  • International NGOs;


Apart from "NGO", often alternative terms are used as for example: independent sector, volunteer sector, civil society, grassroots organizations, transnational social movement organizations, private voluntary organizations, self-help organizations and non-state actors (NSA's).

Non-governmental organizations are a heterogeneous group. A long list of acronyms has developed around the term "NGO".

These include:
  • BINGO, short for Business-friendly International NGO or Big International NGO;
  • National NGO: A non-governmental organization that exists only in one country. This term is usually rare due to the globalization of Non-governmental organizations, which causes an NGO to exist in more than one country.
  • CSO
    Civil society
    Civil society is composed of the totality of many voluntary social relationships, civic and social organizations, and institutions that form the basis of a functioning society, as distinct from the force-backed structures of a state , the commercial institutions of the market, and private criminal...

    , short for civil society organization;
  • DONGO: Donor Organized NGO;
  • ENGO
    ENGO
    An ENGO is an Environmental Non-governmental organization, such as WWF, Greenpeace, Conservation International or the Environmental Investigation Agency.-Goals:...

    : short for environmental NGO, such as Greenpeace
    Greenpeace
    Greenpeace is a non-governmental environmental organization with offices in over forty countries and with an international coordinating body in Amsterdam, The Netherlands...

     and WWF
    World Wide Fund for Nature
    The World Wide Fund for Nature is an international non-governmental organization working on issues regarding the conservation, research and restoration of the environment, formerly named the World Wildlife Fund, which remains its official name in Canada and the United States...

  • NNGO, short for Northern non governmental organization.
  • IDCIs, short for international development cooperation institutions.
  • SNGOs, short for Southern nongovernmental organizations
  • SCOS, also known as social change organizations
  • GONGO
    GONGO
    GONGO stands for Government-Organized Non-Governmental Organization, which may have been set up by governments to look like NGOs in order to qualify for outside aid, or mitigate specific issues related to in-country work or international relations...

    s are government-operated NGOs, which may have been set up by governments to look like NGOs in order to qualify for outside aid or promote the interests of the government in question;
  • INGO
    Ingo
    Ingo is a first name in contemporary Scandinavia and Germany, and a historical name in France. It is the male version of the name Inga, used in the same region, and as a name for a tropical plant....

     stands for international NGO; Oxfam
    Oxfam
    Oxfam is an international confederation of 15 organizations working in 98 countries worldwide to find lasting solutions to poverty and related injustice around the world. In all Oxfam’s actions, the ultimate goal is to enable people to exercise their rights and manage their own lives...

    , INSPAD INSTITUTE OF PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT "A European Think Tank For Peace Initiatives" ;
  • QUANGO
    Quango
    Quango or qango is an acronym used notably in the United Kingdom, Ireland and elsewhere to label an organisation to which government has devolved power...

    s are quasi-autonomous non-governmental organizations, such as the International Organization for Standardization
    International Organization for Standardization
    The International Organization for Standardization , widely known as ISO, is an international standard-setting body composed of representatives from various national standards organizations. Founded on February 23, 1947, the organization promulgates worldwide proprietary, industrial and commercial...

     (ISO). (The ISO is actually not purely an NGO, since its membership is by nation, and each nation is represented by what the ISO Council determines to be the 'most broadly representative' standardization body of a nation. That body might itself be a nongovernmental organization; for example, the United States is represented in ISO by the American National Standards Institute
    American National Standards Institute
    The American National Standards Institute is a private non-profit organization that oversees the development of voluntary consensus standards for products, services, processes, systems, and personnel in the United States. The organization also coordinates U.S. standards with international...

    , which is independent of the federal government. However, other countries can be represented by national governmental agencies; this is the trend in Europe.)
  • TANGO: short for technical assistance NGO;
  • TNGO: short for transnational NGO; The term emerged during the 1970s due to the increase of environmental and economic issues in the global community. TNGO includes non-governmental organizations that are not confined to only one country, but exist in two or more countries.
  • GSO: Grassroots Support Organization
    Grassroots Support Organization
    Grassroots Support Organization are a specialized subset of Intermediate Non-Governmental Organizations that provides services allied support to local groups of disadvantaged rural or urban households and individuals...

  • MANGO: short for market advocacy NGO
  • NGDO: non-governmental development organization


USAID refers to NGOs as private voluntary organisations. However many scholars have argued that this definition is highly problematic as many NGOs are in fact state and corporate funded and managed projects with professional staff.

NGOs exist for a variety of reasons, usually to further the political or social goals of their members or funders. Examples include improving the state of the natural environment
Natural environment
The natural environment encompasses all living and non-living things occurring naturally on Earth or some region thereof. It is an environment that encompasses the interaction of all living species....

, encouraging the observance of human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

, improving the welfare of the disadvantaged, or representing a corporate agenda. However, there are a huge number of such organizations and their goals cover a broad range of political and philosophical positions. This can also easily be applied to private schools and athletic organizations.

Environmental NGOs


Environmental NGOs work on cases related to the environment. An example of an ENGO is Greenpeace
Greenpeace
Greenpeace is a non-governmental environmental organization with offices in over forty countries and with an international coordinating body in Amsterdam, The Netherlands...

. (see: List of Environmental NGOs)
Just like other TNGOs networks, transnational environmental networks might acquire a variety of benefits in sharing information with other organizations, campaigning towards an issue, and exchanging contact information. Since Transnational environmental NGOs advocate for different issues like public goods, such as pollution in the air, deforestation of areas and water issues, it is more difficult for them to give their campaigns a human face than TNGOs campaigning directly for human rights issues.

Some of the earliest forms of transnational environmental NGOs started to appear after the Second World War with the creation of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). After the UN was formed in 1945, more environmental NGO started to emerge in order to address more specific environmental issues.
In 1946, the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was created with the purpose of advocating and representing scientific issues and collaboration among environmental NGOs. In 1969, the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE) was funded to increase and improve collaboration among environmentalists. This collaboration was later reinforced and stimulated with the creation of UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Program in 1971.
In 1972, the UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, tried to address the issues on Sweden’s plead for international intervention on trans-boundary pollution from other European industrialized nations.

Transnational environmental NGOs have taken on diverse issues around the globe, but one of the best-known cases involving the work of environmental NGO’s can be traced back to Brazil during the 1980s. The United States got involved with deforestation concerns due to the allegations of environmentalists dictating deforestation to be a global concern, and after 1977 the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act added an Environmental and Natural Resources section.

During the early 1980s the Brazilian government created the Polonoreste developing program, which the World Bank agreed to finance. The Polonoreste program aimed to urbanized areas of the Amazon, which were already occupied by local indigenous groups. Rapid deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon called the attention and intervention of UNESCO, who utilized its Program on Man and the Biosphere to advocate against the Polonoreste program, on the grounds of violating the rights of the indigenous groups living in the Amazon. In the case of deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon, the environment NGOs were able to put pressure on the World Bank to cancel the loans for the Polonoreste program. Due to the leverage that the U.S. has over the bank, in 1985 the World Bank suspended the financial aid to the Polonoreste Program. The work of environmental NGOs in the Brazilian case was successful because there was a point of leverage that made the targeted actor vulnerable to international pressure.

Even though environmental NGOs (ENGOs) might have common goals relating to issues on the environment, its exploitation, and how to protect it, these organizations are very diverse and lack a central form of international hegemony. There is, however, a clear distinction between the interests and goals among those ENGOs located in industrialized countries--often referred to as the states of the north--and ENGOs from nations located in developing countries--referred to as states of the south (or southern states).
On one hand, Northern states are mainly concerned with issues deriving from poverty, the increasing populations in developing countries, and economic development in the north. On the other hand, southern states blame the developed nations for over consumption and pollution resulting from industrialization. NGOs from the poorer nations blame the industrialized world for sustained inequalities in the international economic system, and criticize these industrialized nations for establishment of companies which become primary polluters in the southern states.

There is also a distinction among groups that take on particular and specific socioeconomic issues related to the environment. The Women’s Environment and Development Organization was created in 1990 with the purpose to advocate for gender inclusion in work related to the Earth Summit. Other groups might focus on issues that include racial minorities and individuals from lower income backgrounds.

Activities


There are also numerous classifications of NGOs. The typology the World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

 uses divides them into Operational and Advocacy:

Operational NGOs
Operational NGOs seek to "achieve small scale change directly through projects." " They mobilize financial resources, materials and volunteers to create localized programs in the field. They hold large scale fundraising events, apply to governments and organizations for grants and contracts in order to raise money for projects. They often operate in a hierarchical structure; with a main headquarters staffed by professionals who plan projects, create budgets, keep accounts, report, and communicate with operational fieldworkers who work directly on projects Operational NGOs deal with a wide range of issues, but are most often associated with the delivery of services and welfare, emergency relief and environmental issues. Operational NGOs can be further categorized, one frequently used categorization is the division into relief-oriented versus development-oriented organizations; they can also be classified according to whether they stress service delivery or participation; or whether they are religious or secular; and whether they are more public or private-oriented. Operational NGOs can be community-based, national or international. The defining activity of operational NGOs is implementing projects.

Campaigning NGOs
Campaigning NGOs seek to "achieve large scale change promoted indirectly through influence of the political system."
Campaigning NGOs need an efficient and effective group of professional members who are able to keep supporters informed, and motivated. They must plan and host demonstrations and events that will keep their cause in the media. They must maintain a large informed network of supporters who can be mobilized for events to garner media attention and influence policy changes. The defining activity of campaigning NGOs is holding demonstrations. Campaigning NGOs often deal with issues relating to human rights, women's rights, children's rights. The primary purpose of an Advocacy NGO is to defend or promote a specific cause. As opposed to operational project management, these organizations typically try to raise awareness, acceptance and knowledge by lobbying, press work and activist events.

Operational and Campaigning NGOs
It is not uncommon for NGOs to make use of both activities. Many times, operational NGOs will use campaigning techniques if they continually face the same issues in the field that could be remedied through policy changes. At the same time, Campaigning NGOs, like human rights organizations often have programs that assist the individual victims they are trying to help through their advocacy work.

Concerns about NGOs

NGOs were intended to fill a gap in government services, but in countries like India, NGOs are gaining a powerful stronghold in decision making. In the interest of sustainability, most donors require that NGOs demonstrate a relationship with governments. State Governments themselves are vulnerable because they lack strategic planning and vision. They are therefore sometimes tightly bound by a nexus of NGOs, political bodies, commercial organizations and major donors/funders, making decisions that have short term outputs but no long term affect. NGOs in India are under regulated, political, and recipients of large government and international donor funds. NGOs often take up responsibilities outside their skill ambit. Governments have no access to the number of projects or amount of funding received by these NGOs. There is a pressing need to regulate this group while not curtailing their unique role as a supplement to government services.

Methods


NGOs vary in their methods. Some act primarily as lobbyists, while others primarily conduct programs and activities. For instance, an NGO such as Oxfam
Oxfam
Oxfam is an international confederation of 15 organizations working in 98 countries worldwide to find lasting solutions to poverty and related injustice around the world. In all Oxfam’s actions, the ultimate goal is to enable people to exercise their rights and manage their own lives...

, concerned with poverty alleviation, might provide needy people with the equipment and skills to find food and clean drinking water
Drinking water
Drinking water or potable water is water pure enough to be consumed or used with low risk of immediate or long term harm. In most developed countries, the water supplied to households, commerce and industry is all of drinking water standard, even though only a very small proportion is actually...

, whereas an NGO like the FFDA
FFDA
The Forum for Fact-finding Documentation and Advocacy is an Indian human rights monitoring organization founded in 1995 that fights to promote and protect human rights in India by working with the victims of human rights violations and their organizations...

 helps through investigation and documentation of human rights violations and provides legal assistance to victims of human rights abuses. Others, such as Afghanistan Information Management Services
Afghanistan Information Management Services
Afghanistan Information Management Services is a Kabul-based Afghan non-governmental organisation which works to fill the gap in the information management needs of Afghanistan...

, provide specialized technical products and services to support development activities implemented on the ground by other organizations.

Public relations


Non-governmental organisations need healthy relationships with the public to meet their goals. Foundations and charities use sophisticated public relations campaigns to raise funds and employ standard lobbying techniques with governments. Interest groups may be of political importance because of their ability to influence social and political outcomes. A code of ethics was established in 2002 by The World Association of Non Governmental NGOs.

Project management


There is an increasing awareness that management techniques are crucial to project success in non-governmental organizations. Generally, non-governmental organizations that are private have either a community or environmental focus. They address varieties of issues such as religion, emergency aid, or humanitarian affairs. They mobilize public support and voluntary contributions for aid; they often have strong links with community groups in developing countries, and they often work in areas where government-to-government aid is not possible. NGOs are accepted as a part of the international relations landscape, and while they influence national and multilateral policy-making, increasingly they are more directly involved in local action.

Staffing


Not all people working for non-governmental organizations are volunteers.

There is some dispute as to whether expatriate
Expatriate
An expatriate is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country and culture other than that of the person's upbringing...

s should be sent to developing countries. Frequently this type of personnel is employed to satisfy a donor
Donation
A donation is a gift given by physical or legal persons, typically for charitable purposes and/or to benefit a cause. A donation may take various forms, including cash, services, new or used goods including clothing, toys, food, and vehicles...

 who wants to see the supported project managed by someone from an industrialized country
Developed country
A developed country is a country that has a high level of development according to some criteria. Which criteria, and which countries are classified as being developed, is a contentious issue...

. However, the expertise these employees or volunteers may be counterbalanced by a number of factors: the cost of foreigners
Alien (law)
In law, an alien is a person in a country who is not a citizen of that country.-Categorization:Types of "alien" persons are:*An alien who is legally permitted to remain in a country which is foreign to him or her. On specified terms, this kind of alien may be called a legal alien of that country...

 is typically higher, they have no grassroot connections
Grassroots democracy
Grassroots democracy is a tendency towards designing political processes where as much decision-making authority as practical is shifted to the organization's lowest geographic level of organization: principle of subsidiarity....

 in the country they are sent to, and local expertise is often undervalued.

The NGO sector is an important employer in terms of numbers. For example, by the end of 1995, CONCERN worldwide
Concern Worldwide
Concern Worldwide is Ireland's largest aid and humanitarian agency. Since its foundation over 40 years ago it has worked in 50 countries and currently employs 3,200 staff in 25 countries around the world. Concern works to help those living in the world's poorest countries to achieve real and...

, an international Northern NGO working against poverty, employed 174 expatriates and just over 5,000 national staff working in ten developing countries in Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 and Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

, and in Haiti
Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

.

Funding


Large NGOs may have annual budgets in the hundreds of millions or billions of dollars. For instance, the budget of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) was over US$540 million in 1999. Funding such large budgets demands significant fundraising efforts on the part of most NGOs. Major sources of NGO funding are membership dues, the sale of good
Product (business)
In general, the product is defined as a "thing produced by labor or effort" or the "result of an act or a process", and stems from the verb produce, from the Latin prōdūce ' lead or bring forth'. Since 1575, the word "product" has referred to anything produced...

s and services, grants from international institutions or national governments, and private donation
Donation
A donation is a gift given by physical or legal persons, typically for charitable purposes and/or to benefit a cause. A donation may take various forms, including cash, services, new or used goods including clothing, toys, food, and vehicles...

s. Several EU-grants provide funds accessible to NGOs.

Even though the term "non-governmental organization" implies independence
Independence
Independence is a condition of a nation, country, or state in which its residents and population, or some portion thereof, exercise self-government, and usually sovereignty, over its territory....

 from governments, most NGOs depend heavily on governments for their funding. A quarter of the US$162 million income in 1998 of the famine-relief
Famine relief
Famine relief is an organized effort to reduce starvation in a region in which there is famine. A famine is a phenomenon in which a large proportion of the population of a region or country are so undernourished that death by starvation becomes increasingly common...

 organization Oxfam
Oxfam
Oxfam is an international confederation of 15 organizations working in 98 countries worldwide to find lasting solutions to poverty and related injustice around the world. In all Oxfam’s actions, the ultimate goal is to enable people to exercise their rights and manage their own lives...

 was donated by the British government and the EU. The Christian relief and development organization World Vision United States collected US$55 million worth of goods in 1998 from the American government. Nobel Prize
Nobel Prize
The Nobel Prizes are annual international awards bestowed by Scandinavian committees in recognition of cultural and scientific advances. The will of the Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, established the prizes in 1895...

 winner Médecins Sans Frontières
Médecins Sans Frontières
' , or Doctors Without Borders, is a secular humanitarian-aid non-governmental organization best known for its projects in war-torn regions and developing countries facing endemic diseases. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland...

 (MSF) (known in the USA as Doctors Without Borders) gets 46% of its income from government sources.

Government funding of NGOs is controversial, since, according to David Rieff, writing in The New Republic
The New Republic
The magazine has also published two articles concerning income inequality, largely criticizing conservative economists for their attempts to deny the existence or negative effect increasing income inequality is having on the United States...

, "the whole point of humanitarian intervention was precisely that NGOs and civil society had both a right and an obligation to respond with acts of aid and solidarity to people in need or being subjected to repression or want by the forces that controlled them, whatever the governments concerned might think about the matter." Some NGOs, such as Greenpeace
Greenpeace
Greenpeace is a non-governmental environmental organization with offices in over forty countries and with an international coordinating body in Amsterdam, The Netherlands...

 do not accept funding from governments or intergovernmental organizations.

Monitoring and control


In a March 2000 report on United Nations Reform priorities, former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan wrote in favor of international humanitarian intervention, arguing that the international community has a "right to protect" citizens of the world against ethnic cleansing, genocide, and crimes against humanity. On the heels of the report, the Canadian government launched the Responsibility to Protect project, outlining the issue of humanitarian intervention. While the R2P doctrine has wide applications, among the more controversial has been the Canadian government's use of R2P to justify its intervention and support of the coup in Haiti.
Years after R2P, the World Federalist Movement
World Federalist Movement
The World Federalist Movement is a global citizens movement with member and associate organizations around the world. The WFM International Secretariat is based in New York City across from the United Nations headquarters...

, an organization which supports "the creation of democratic global structures accountable to the citizens of the world and call for the division of international authority among separate agencies", has launched Responsibility to Protect - Engaging Civil Society (R2PCS). A collaboration between the WFM and the Canadian government, this project aims to bring NGOs into lockstep with the principles outlined under the original R2P project.

The governments of the countries an NGO works or is registered in may require reporting or other monitoring and oversight. Funders generally require reporting and assessment, such information is not necessarily publicly available. There may also be associations and watchdog organizations that research and publish details on the actions of NGOs working in particular geographic or program areas.

In recent years, many large corporations have increased their corporate social responsibility
Corporate social responsibility
Corporate social responsibility is a form of corporate self-regulation integrated into a business model...

 departments in an attempt to preempt NGO campaigns against certain corporate practices. As the logic goes, if corporations work with NGOs, NGOs will not work against corporations.

In December 2007, The United States Department of Defense Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs) S. Ward Casscells
S. Ward Casscells
S. Ward Casscells, MD is the John E. Tyson Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Public Health, and Vice President for External Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Texas at Houston, and Senior Scholar at the Texas Heart Institute...

 established an International Health
International Health
International health, also called geographic medicine or global health, is a field of health care, usually with a public health emphasis, dealing with health across regional or national boundaries...

 Division under Force Health Protection & Readiness. Part of International Health's mission is to communicate with NGOs in areas of mutual interest. Department of Defense Directive 3000.05, in 2005, requires DoD to regard stability-enhancing activities as a mission of importance equal to combat. In compliance with international law
Geneva Conventions
The Geneva Conventions comprise four treaties, and three additional protocols, that establish the standards of international law for the humanitarian treatment of the victims of war...

, DoD has necessarily built a capacity to improve essential services in areas of conflict such as Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, where the customary lead agencies (State Department and USAID) find it difficult to operate. Unlike the "co-option" strategy described for corporations, the OASD(HA) recognizes the neutrality of health as an essential service. International Health cultivates collaborative relationships with NGOs, albeit at arms-length, recognizing their traditional independence, expertise and honest broker status. While the goals of DoD and NGOs may seem incongruent, the DoD's emphasis on stability and security to reduce and prevent conflict suggests, on careful analysis, important mutual interests.

Legal status


The legal form of NGOs is diverse and depends upon homegrown variations in each country's laws and practices. However, four main family groups of NGOs can be found worldwide:
  • Unincorporated and voluntary association
    Voluntary association
    A voluntary association or union is a group of individuals who enter into an agreement as volunteers to form a body to accomplish a purpose.Strictly speaking, in many jurisdictions no formalities are necessary to start an association...

  • Trusts, charities and foundations
  • Companies not just for profit
    Not just for profit
    Not Just For Profit is a concept that captures an expanded set of values for defining and evaluating for-profit private sector organizations, not only by their ability to generate profit as is done traditionally, but also by their determination and success in driving a benefit for people and/or...

  • Entities formed or registered under special NGO or nonprofit
    NPO
    NPO may refer to:*Non-profit organization*Nil per os, Latin for "nothing by mouth", a medical instruction to withhold oral intake of food and fluids from a patient*NP optimization problem, optimization problems that are NP-hard...

     laws


NGOs are not subjects of international law
International law
Public international law concerns the structure and conduct of sovereign states; analogous entities, such as the Holy See; and intergovernmental organizations. To a lesser degree, international law also may affect multinational corporations and individuals, an impact increasingly evolving beyond...

, as states are. An exception is the International Committee of the Red Cross
International Committee of the Red Cross
The International Committee of the Red Cross is a private humanitarian institution based in Geneva, Switzerland. States parties to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 1977 and 2005, have given the ICRC a mandate to protect the victims of international and...

, which is subject to certain specific matters, mainly relating to the Geneva Convention.

The Council of Europe
Council of Europe
The Council of Europe is an international organisation promoting co-operation between all countries of Europe in the areas of legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation...

 in Strasbourg
Strasbourg
Strasbourg is the capital and principal city of the Alsace region in eastern France and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Located close to the border with Germany, it is the capital of the Bas-Rhin département. The city and the region of Alsace are historically German-speaking,...

 drafted the European Convention on the Recognition of the Legal Personality of International Non-Governmental Organizations in 1986, which sets a common legal basis for the existence and work of NGOs in Europe. Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights
European Convention on Human Rights
The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms is an international treaty to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe. Drafted in 1950 by the then newly formed Council of Europe, the convention entered into force on 3 September 1953...

 protects the right to freedom of association, which is also a fundamental norm for NGOs.

Critiques


Stuart Becker provides the following summary of the primary critiques of NGOs:
There’s a debate that, NGOs take the place of what should belong to popular movements of the poor. Others argue that NGOs are often imperialist in nature, that they sometimes operate in a racist manner in Third World countries and that they fulfill a similar function to that of the clergy during the colonial era. Philosopher Peter Hallward
Peter Hallward
Peter Hallward is a Canadian political philosopher, best known for his work on Alain Badiou and Gilles Deleuze. He has also published works on post-colonialism and contemporary Haiti...

 argues that they are an aristocratic form of politics."


Issa G. Shivji
Issa G. Shivji
Issa G. Shivji is an author and academic, and one of Africa's leading experts on law and development issues. He has taught and worked in universities all over the world. He is a prolific writer and researcher, producing books, monographs and articles, as well as a weekly column printed in national...

 is one of Africa's leading experts on law and development issues as an author and academic. His critique on NGOs is found in two essays: "Silences in NGO discourse: The role and future of NGOs in Africa" and "Reflections on NGOs in Tanzania: What we are, what we are not and what we ought to be". Shivji argues that despite the good intentions of NGO leaders and activists, he is critical of the "objective effects of actions, regardless of their intentions". Shivji argues also that the sudden rise of NGOs are part of a neoliberal paradigm rather than pure altruistic motivations. He is critical of the current manifestations of NGOs wanting to change the world without understanding it, and that the imperial
Imperialism
Imperialism, as defined by Dictionary of Human Geography, is "the creation and/or maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural, and territorial relationships, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination." The imperialism of the last 500 years,...

 relationship continues today with the rise of NGOs.

Challenges to Legitimacy


The issue of the legitimacy of NGOs raises a series of important questions. This is one of the most important assets possessed by an NGO, it is gained through a perception that they are an “independent voice”.Accountability may be able to provide this and also be able to assist activities by providing focus and direction As non-state actors with considerable influence over the governance in many areas, concerns have been expressed over the extent to which they represent the views of the public and the extent to which they allow the public to hold them to account. The effectiveness of NGOs is a difficult thing to assess.

The origin of funding can have serious implications for the legitimacy of NGOs. In recent decades NGOs have increased their numbers and range of activities to a level where they have become increasingly dependent on a limited number of donors. Consequently competition has increased for funding, as have the expectations of the donors themselves. . This runs the risk of donors adding conditions which can threaten the independence of NGOs, an over-dependence on official aid has the potential to dilute “the willingness of NGOs to speak out on issues which are unpopular with governments” . In these situations NGOs are being held accountable by their donors, which can erode rather than enhance their legitimacy, a difficult challenge to overcome. Some commentators have also argued that the changes in where NGOs receive their funding has ultimately altered their functions . It is however important to acknowledge official funding does not automatically mean illegitimacy.

NGOs have also been challenged on the grounds that they do not necessarily represent the needs of the developing world, through diminishing the so-called “Southern Voice”. Some postulate that the North-South division exists in the arena of NGOs. They question the equality of the relationships between Northern and Southern parts of the same NGOs as well as the relationships between Southern and Northern NGOs working in partnerships. This suggests a division of labour may develop, with the North taking the lead in advocacy and resource mobilisation whilst the South engages in service delivery in the developing world. The potential implications of this may mean that the needs of the developing world are not addressed appropriately as Northern NGOs do not properly consult or participate in partnerships. The real danger in this situation is that western views may take the front seat and assign unrepresentative priorities.

The scale and variety of activities in which NGOs participate has grown rapidly since the 1980s, witnessing particular expansion in the 1990s.This has presented NGOs with need to balance the pressures of centralisation and decentralisation. By centralising NGOs, particularly those that operate at an international level, they can assign a common theme or set of goals. Conversely it is also advantageous to decentralise as this increases the chances of an NGO behaving flexibly and effectively to localised issues.

Education


Further reading

  • Mark Butler, with Thulani Ndlazi, David Ntseng, Graham Philpott, and Nomusa Sokhela. NGO Practice and the Possibility of Freedom Church Land Programme, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa 2007 Churchland.co.za
  • Olivier Berthoud, NGOs: Somewhere between Compassion, Profitability and Solidarity Envio.org.ni, PDF Edinter.net Envio, Managua, 2001
  • Terje Tvedt, 19982/2003: Angels of Mercy or Development Diplomats. NGOs & Foreign Aid, Oxford: James Currey
  • Steve W. Witt, ed. Changing Roles of NGOs in the Creation, Storage, and Dissemination of Information in Developing Countries (Saur, 2006). ISBN 3-598-22030-8
  • Cox, P. N. Shams, G. C. Jahn, P. Erickson and P. Hicks. 2002. Building collaboration between NGOs and agricultural research institutes. Cambodian Journal of Agriculture 6: 1-8. IRRI.org
  • Ann Florini
    Ann Florini
    Ann Florini is Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institutions in Washington, DC, and a professor at the National University of Singapore She works on global governance, energy policy and the public roles of private corporations....

    , ed. The Third Force: The Rise of Transnational Civil Society (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Japan Center for International Exchange
    Japan Center for International Exchange
    Japan Center for International Exchange is an "independent, nonprofit, and nonpartisan organizationdedicated to strengthening Japan's role in international networksof dialogue and cooperation." Founded in 1970, their stated goals are:...

    , 2001).
  • Margaret Keck and Kathryn Sikkink. 1998. Activists Beyond Borders: Advocacy Networks in International Politics. Cornell University Press
    Cornell University Press
    The Cornell University Press, established in 1869 but inactive from 1884 to 1930, was the first university publishing enterprise in the United States.A division of Cornell University, it is housed in Sage House, the former residence of Henry William Sage....

  • Rodney Bruce Hall, and Biersteker, Thomas. The Emergence of Private Authority in Global Governance (Cambridge Studies in International Relations, 2003)
  • Dorthea Hilhorst, The Real World of NGOs: Discourses, Diversity and Development, Zed Books, 2003
  • Joan Roelofs, Foundations and Public Policy: The Mask of Pluralism (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2003).
  • Ian Smillie, & Minear, Larry, editors. The Charity of Nations: Humanitarian Action in a Calculating World, Kumarian Press, 2004
  • Simon Maxwell and Diane Stone. (eds) Global Knowledge Networks and International Development: Bridges Across Boundaries (Routledge, 2005: I-xix; 1-192).
  • Sidney Tarrow
    Sidney Tarrow
    Sidney G. Tarrow is a professor of political science and sociology, known for his research in the areas of comparative politics, social movements, political parties, collective action and political sociology.-Biography:...

    , The New Transnational Activism, New York :Cambridge University Press, 2005
  • Thomas Ward, editor. Development, Social Justice, and Civil Society: An Introduction to the Political Economy of NGOs, Paragon House, 2005
  • H. Teegen, 2003. ‘International NGOs as Global Institutions: Using Social Capital to Impact Multinational Enterprises and Governments’, Journal of International Management.
  • Jennifer Brinkerhoff, Stephen C. Smith
    Stephen C. Smith
    Stephen C. Smith is an economist, author, and educator. He is Director of the Institute for International Economic Policy at George Washington University, where he is also Professor of Economics and International Affairs.-Background:...

    , and Hildy Teegen, NGOs and the Millennium Development Goals: Citizen Action to Reduce Poverty, Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.
  • S.Goonatilake. Recolonisation: Foreign Funded NGO's in Sri Lanka, Sage Publications 2006.
  • Teegen, H. Doh, J., Vachani, S., 2004. “The importance of nongovernmental organisation in global governance and value creation: an international business research agenda“ in Journal of International Business Studies. Washington: Vol. 35, Iss.6.
  • K. Rodman, (1998)."‘Think Globally, Punish Locally: Nonstate Actors, Multinational Corporations, and Human Rights Sanctions" in Ethics in International Affairs, vol. 12.
  • Grant B. Stillman (2006), NGO Law and Governance: a resource book, ADB Institute, Tokyo, ISBN 4-89974-013-1.

More useful are regional histories and analyses of the experience of NGOs. Specific works (although this is by no means an exhaustive list) include:
  • T. R. Davies, The Possibilities of Transnational Activism: The Campaign for Disarmament between the Two World Wars, Brill, 2007. ISBN 3-598-22030-8
  • H. Englund, Prisoners of Freedom: Human Rights & the Africa Poor, University of California Press, 2006
  • Carrie Meyer, The Economics and Politics of NGOs in Latin America, Praeger Publishers, July 30, 1999
  • Chhandasi Pandya. 2006. Private Authority and Disaster Relief: The Cases of Post-Tsunami Aceh and Nias. Critical Asian Studies. Vol. 38, No. 2. Pg. 298-308. Routledge Press: Taylor & Francis Group
  • Maha Abdelrahman, Civil Society Exposed: The Politics of NGOs in Egypt, The American University in Cairo Press, 2004. Al-Ahram Weekly has done a review of the book.
  • Sangeeta Kamat, Development hegemony: NGOs and The State in India, Delhi, New York; Oxford University Press, 2002
  • Adama Sow, Chancen und Risiken von NGOs – Die Gewerkschaften in Guinea während der Unruhen 2007EPU
    European University Center for Peace Studies
    European Peace University is a private university in Stadtschlaining, Austria.The institution was founded in 1988 as European University Center for Peace Studies by Gerald Mader in his capacity as president of the ASPR, with the support of European UNESCO commissions, and is affiliated to the...

     Research Papers: Issue 03/07, Stadtschlaining 2007
  • Lyal S. Sunga, "Dilemmas facing INGOs in coalition-occupied Iraq", in Ethics in Action: The Ethical Challenges of International Human Rights Nongovernmental Organizations, edited by Daniel A. Bell and Jean-Marc Coicaud, Cambridge Univ. and United Nations Univ. Press, 2007.
  • Lyal S. Sunga, "NGO Involvement in International Human Rights Monitoring, International Human Rights Law and Non-Governmental Organizations" (2005) 41-69.
  • Werker & Ahmed (2008): What do Non-Governmental Organizations do?
  • Steve Charnovitz, "Two Centuries of Participation: NGOs and International Governance," Michigan Journal of International Law, Vol. 18, Winter 1997, at 183-286.
  • Abahlali baseMjondolo Rethinking Public Participation from Below, 'Critical Dialogue', 2006
  • Akpan S. M (2010): Establishment of Non-Governmental Organizations (In Press).
  • Edward A. L. Turner (2010) Why Has the Number of International Non-Governmental Organizations Exploded since 1960?, Cliodynamics
    Cliodynamics
    thumb|Clio—detail from [[The Art of Painting|The Allegory of Painting]] by [[Johannes Vermeer]]Cliodynamics is a new multidisciplinary area of research focused at mathematical modeling of historical dynamics.-Origins:The term was originally coined by Peter...

    , 1, (1). Retrieved from: http://escholarship.org/uc/item/97p470sx


The de facto reference resource for information and statistics on International NGOs (INGOs) and other transnational organisational forms is the Yearbook of International Organizations
Yearbook of International Organizations
Yearbook of International Organizations, established in 1910 and published under current title since 1950 is a reference work on non-profit international organizations...

, produced by the Union of International Associations
Union of International Associations
The Union of International Associations is a non-profit non-governmental organization researching, under UN mandate, the global civil society and publishing information on international organizations, international meetings, world problems, etc. Headquarters are in Brussels, Belgium...

.
  • David Lewis and Nazneen Kanji (2009): Non-Governmental Organizations and Development. New York: Routledge.
  • Issa G. Shivji (2007): Silence in NGO Discourse: The Role and Future of NGOs in Africa. Nairobi: Fahamu.
  • Jens Steffek and Kristina Hahn (2010): Evaluating Transnational NGOs: Legitimacy, Accountability, Representation. New York: Palgrave, Macmillan.

External links