Global Policy Forum

Background Paper on Congo's and QUANGOs and Wild NGOs*

GONGOs "governmental non-governmental organizations" such bodies are set up to speak in favor of some governments, wither as a






By Natalie Steinberg December 2001


* Views expressed in this paper do not necessarily reflect the views of the World Federalist Movement or its member organizations. To see more publications of the World Federalist Movement, please go to



I. Introduction

In this paper I will examine the interaction of NGOs in the international arena; particularly NGOs' relations with governments as well as with the UN and its bodies. I will first attempt to define NGOs, as well as the variations on NGOs. I will then focus on international NGOs (as opposed to local NGOs) and examine the development of their status vis-í -vis the UN. Finally, I will address the recent debate over GONGOs and QUANGOs. The issue of government organized or government funded NGOs has been widely debated lately, but it has intermingled with the debate over the rather recent phenomenon of NGO misbehavior at various international forums and conferences. It began with some violent NGO protests against the WTO (Seattle, Gothenburg, Genoa etc.) and the latest debate spurred over the World Conference Against Racism in Durban (September 2001), where some NGOs displayed unacceptable behavior and made use of racist or violent language.

Some NGOs tried to distance themselves from these incidents, claiming that some grassroots NGOs are new and do not know the proper way of interacting with the UN. Others said that a few "rotten apples" (such as anarchist groups) gave NGOs a bad name. Either way this problem should be addressed. CONGO or other organizations should find a way of better informing NGOs that participate in conferences on how to behave. Some have suggested writing up a "code of conduct" for NGOs or "code of ethics" — or create some form of "self policing" of NGO so as not to loose the credibility of NGOs in the eyes of the public or of the governments. Some claim a more effective screening process is needed before NGOs receive any sort of accreditation, including having them adhere to some basic guidelines (such as commitment to democratic goals, human rights, or in the negative: not being allowed racist or violent agendas or language).

The discussion may overlap at some points, and by no means will this paper endeavor to be a comprehensive examination of these issues. It will merely attempt to map out the different issues that arise form the seemingly simplistic claim that GONGOs and "badly behaved NGOs" should be kept away from the UN system and the international arena because they give the "real NGOs" a bad name. I will also try to touch upon the politics behind the question of who will decide which NGO is "worthy" of its name, and some thorny issues of cultural relativism. I will also address the common belief that all NGOs are inherently "good". This belief is the reason why so many governments and NGOs were surprised by the misbehavior of some NGOs in recent international conferences. NGOs may be political, bias, racist or violent just like any other group, and this is true of any NGO not just GONGOs or QUANGOs. This is because there is nothing inherent in the worthiness of the causes of non-governmental organizations.

Although NGOs, particularly human rights NGOs, are so used to mobilizing civil society to call governments to account that they find it hard to grapple with threats to human rights from the non-governmental world. Human rights NGOs have seen other non-governmental organizations as potential allies in the struggle for human rights, rather than potential threats to respect for human rights, and therefore have been blind to political manipulations of some NGOs and have bought into the agenda of those political movements, which use the proper human rights vocabulary. This was part of the story in Durban, and this is also why many NGOs are reluctant to address the issue (for fear that it will give all NGOs a bad name), and are content with distancing themselves from the "bad apples". However, if this issue is not addressed by NGOs, there is danger that governments, hostile to NGO participation and influence in the UN, would try to legislate limitations on such NGO participation. Such voices have been heard lately, particularly after the WCAR in Durban, and even governments who are supportive of NGO activity are uneasy bout the recent events, and will find it difficult to defend the NGOs unless they address the problem themselves.

II. Background on NGOs

The definition of NGOs is not commonly agreed upon. NGOs are certainly part of the citizen sector, but there is no one unified definition of NGOs. Many academics and activists have tried to define them, but so far the only working definition is that of the UN, which is itself defined in the negative: non-governmental (what it is not). NGOs generally function to serve underserved or neglected populations, to expand the freedom of or to empower people, to engage in advocacy for social change, and to provide services. NGO advocacy might be defined as an act of organizing the strategic use of information to democratize unequal power relations, aimed at influencing policy or reality itself. Apart from the function of representing people by acting of their own volition (rather than by some institutional fiat) NGOs have other defining characteristics:

  • They are formal organizations (as opposed to ad hoc entities).
  • They are or aspire to be self-governing on the basis of their own constitutional arrangements.
  • They are private, in that they are separate from governments and have no ability to direct societies or to require support from them.
  • They are not in the business of making or distributing profits.
  • International NGOs (that I will focus on) have transnational goals, operations or connections, and active contacts with the UN.

A common terminological confusion is with non-profit organizations. Non-profits include a very wide range of organizations, including museums, universities, and hospitals that focus on services and rarely (if ever) engage in advocacy. By contrast, NGOs always have an important advocacy mission. In the field of international relations, scholars now speak of NGOs as "non-state actors" (although this category may also include transnational corporations). This term suggests NGOs' emerging influence in the international policy arena where previously only states played a significant role. NGO action can be in the micro-policy, macro-policy or norm setting or a mix.

Not every organization that claims to be an NGO exactly fits this definition of a private citizens' organization, separate from government but active on a social issue, not profit making, and with a transnational scope. There are a number of variations that are most commonly discussed: [Gordenker & Weiss]

  1. GONGO — government-organized nongovernmental organization. They achieved notoriety during the Cold War because many so-called NGOs owed their very existence and entire financial support to communist governments in the Soviet bloc or authoritarian ones in the Third World. There were also a few such ‘NGOs' in the West (particularly in the US) where they were often a front for administration activities.
  2. QUANGO — quasi-nongovernmental organization that receive the bulk of their resources from public funds. The staff of such organizations usually asserts that as long as their financial support is without strings attached and their own priorities rather than those of donor governments dominate, there is no genuine problem.
  3. DONGO — donor-organized NGO. Both governments and the UN have ‘their' NGOs for particular operations and purposes. (The UN created local NGOs in some cases)

Both QUANGOs and DONGOs aim at internationally endorsed purposes and have a private status, even if their funding is public. They offer services that clearly fall within the usual range of NGO operations.

III. History of the UN's Relationship with Civil Society & NGOs

A conventional, legally based way of describing NGOs and their relationship to the United Nations begins with the formal structure that derives form UN Charter article 71. Based on the Charter provisions, both in the preamble and article 71, the United Nations has had a relationship with civil society since its establishment, and it recognizes NGOs legally and formally as partners within the UN system. Article 71 states that the ECOSOC may make arrangements for both national and international NGOs:

The Economic and Social Council may make suitable arrangements for consultation with non-governmental organizations, which are concerned with matters within its competence. Such arrangements may be made with international organizations and, where appropriate, with national organizations after consultation with the Member of the United Nations concerned. (UN Charter, Article 71: Untitled; Arrangements for consultation with non-governmental organizations)

The first NGOs were granted consultative status by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) as early as in 1948. It is the only mention of NGOs in the Charter, largely an afterthought stimulated by the Soviet Union's attempt to put a GONGO on par with the International Labor Organization (ILO).

Early attempts to give meaning to article 71 were heavily colored by Cold War maneuvers, but a growing list of organizations with consultative status developed around fairly restricted practices laid down by ESOSOC. The first set of rules on this relationship was adopted in 1950 by the ECOSOC in resolution 288 B(X). These rules were reviewed by the General Assembly in 1968 in the ECOSOC Resolution 1296 (XLIV), which became the basis for establishing criteria for the participation of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) at the United Nations, which remained in use for almost three decades. The resolution also provided the framework for the funds and programs of the United Nations to appoint NGO liaison officers and to have their own procedures for NGO access.

This resolution refined the earlier UN principle that any international organization not established by intergovernmental agreement falls into the NGO category. The text emphasizes that NGOs that seek consultative status must have goals within the UN economic and social ambit. It also states that NGOs must have representative and international character, and authorization to speak for members who are supposed to participate in a democratic fashion. The process of admission to consultative status is supervised by the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations, elected each year by ECOSOC from among its member governments, 19 of which provide the actual personnel. It is the only intergovernmental Committee in the UN that focuses exclusively on relations with NGOs, and it holds annual consultations with NGOs about this relationship, and transmits reports of such consultations to deECOSOC for action. ECOSOC also formed a Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Status - CONGO.

In 1993, Member States decided that the resolution 1296 needed to be reviewed in order to update and accommodate changes since 1968. The relationship between NGOs and the United Nations had developed, as NGOs had become more present, active and influential at the international level, and more directly engaged in the intergovernmental processes. The Earth Summit in Rio in 1992 set the pace for intense NGO participation in the world conferences; with 17,000 NGO representatives participating in the NGO parallel forum and 1400 directly involved in the intergovernmental negotiations. NGOs had a key role there, as well as in the 1995 Fourth Conference on Women in Beijing, were 35,000 NGO representatives to the parallel forum and 2,600 to the intergovernmental negotiations attended.

The ECOSOC decision 1993/214 of February 1993 established the parameters and mandate for a review. The review process of NGO arrangements, held in 1993-96 (under the auspices of a Working Group comprised of Member States) resulted in ECOSOC resolution 1996/31, which defines the criteria and principles for establishing consultative relationships for NGOs. Resolution 1996/31 defines NGOs "any international organization which is not established by a governmental entity or intergovernmental agreement". It also says that organization refers to NGOs at the national, sub-regional, regional and international levels, except where expressly stated otherwise. The resolution establishes three categories of consultative status for NGOs. General consultative status is for large international NGOs whose are of work covers most issues on the ECOSOC agenda. Special consultative status is for NGOs that have special competence in a few fields of the ECOSOC activity. The third category, which is inclusion on the roster, is for NGOs whose competence enables them to make occasional and useful contributions to the work of the UN and that are available for consultation upon request. NGOs on the roster may also include organizations in consultative status with a specialized agency or other UN body. The resolution also formulated guidelines for written statements, oral statements and attendance during meetings. This resolution is the current basis for partnership between NGOs and the United Nations.

In 1998, the Secretary-General elaborated arrangements and practices for NGOs in his report A/53/170. Furthermore, the Secretary-General reflected the views of Member States, members of the specialized agencies, observers, intergovernmental organizations and NGOs from all regions in another report A/54/329, in 1999. The Millennium Declaration also gave a new mandate to enhance this partnership. [UN website + Weiss&Gordenker]

The 1996/31 resolution further decided that NGOs can be invited to participate in all international conferences and their preparatory processes convened by the United Nations. As a rule, NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC are accredited for participation; merely need to express their interest to participate to become accredited. Other NGOs wishing to participate can apply through the respective conference secretariat. It was decided that accreditation processes are the prerogative of Member States, exercised through the respective preparatory committee.

IV. The Growth of NGOs

NGOs have been growing stronger in the last decade. Many claim that the growth of NGOs arises from demands by citizens for accountability. Their agenda is not limited to economic issues or government agendas. Citizens' groups are increasingly powerful at the corporate, national and international level. Are they leading towards an "international civil society" or do they represent a dangerous shift or power to un-elected and un-accountable special interest groups?

Citizens' groups play roles that go far beyond political activism. NGOs do important campaigning work, but many are also important deliverers of services. As a group, NGOs now deliver more aid than the whole UN system. A growing share of development spending, emergency relief and aid transfers passes through the aid NGOs. NGOs have become "the most important constituency for the activities of development aid agencies". Between 1990 and 1994, the proportion of the European Union's relief aid channeled through NGOs rose form 47% to 67%. (the Red Cross states that NGOs now disburse more money than the World Bank). Once little more than ragged charities, NGOs are now big business. "Anybody who's anybody is an NGO these days". [The Economist, Jan 29, 2000]

The advancement in technology has made a great difference. Now information can be dispersed quickly, and to a great effect, online (and cheap). New coalitions can be built online. Internet allows new partnerships between groups in rich and poor countries. This phenomenon — amorphous NGOs, linked online, descending on a target — has been dubbed an "NGO swarm". These are very hard for governments to deal with because they have no central leadership or command structure; it is multi-headed, impossible to decapitate.

Also important has been the rise of "technical NGOs" which provide sophisticated analysis and information, and they can be crucial to the working of some treaties. Staffed overwhelmingly with lawyers, they become experts in the minutiae, providing training and information to delegates from poor counties.

The World Bank has co-opted NGOs since 1994. they are now at the center of World Bank policy. The new World Bank is more transparent, but is also more beholden to a new set of special interests (the WTO will have a much harder time surviving this. It is inherently more controversial, and it does not distribute money for projects, making it harder to co-opt NGOs.) [Economist 12.9.99 ]

* A 1995 UN report on global governance suggested that nearly 29,000 international NGOs existed. Domestic ones have grown even faster -four times as many as there were 30 years ago.

V. Backlash Against NGOs [Michael Bond]

In a global world without global government, NGOs have stepped in to fill the gap. But there is now a backlash against their unaccountable power. This has been spurred mainly following several incident of NGO misbehavior in protests around the world against the WTO and its globalization policies (Seattle, Gothenburg etc.). This issue has been discussed, albeit in hushed voices, among the NGO community. The trouble is that aside from the concerned governments, who feel that their sovereignty is being compromised, some states have used such incidents as an excuse to promote policies limiting the range of influence of NGOs, for their own purposes (they suggests not allowing NGOs entry into UN committees etc. to avoid being criticized by those NGOs). However, some issues are valid areas of concern, and it would be better if the NGO community itself addressed them. Some of the major problems are:

A. General Problems of NGOs

  • Accountability: NGOs are like political parties in that they depend on their members for funding and answer to them for their policies. Therefore they gear their campaigns to expand their "grassroots" support. However, NGOs, unlike political parties, are not accountable to electorate. Accountability is central to the debate about NGOs' role in global decision-making. Critics claim that they are a hardly democratic substitute for governments. Lately the concept of political responsibility has been widely discussed in the context of clarifying representation and accountability in transnational NGO networks.

    Although NGO leaders are not elected, and do not stand for election, they are held accountable by boards of directors, membership bodies, and other constituencies. They also must win voluntary financial support each year from members and donors and cannot rely on legally enforced taxation as governments do. Financing is a sensitive issue. It is complex particularly for international NGOs. In the past three decades funding from public grants and even direct government funding has become widespread among NGOs (today such grants account fro more than 40% of NGO income. This inevitably exposes NGOs to pressure from governments and might limit their capacity to at independently. However such undo influence on the agenda of NGOs might also exist when the funds come from businesses, big foundations and rich individuals — and NGOs must be weary. Many are discussing some form of accountability, transparency and enhancing democracy. [James Paul]

  • The Single Issue Problem: International civil society is not a homogeneous forum of altruistic groups. For all their strengths, NGOs are special interests, and they often suffer from tunnel vision — judging every public act by how it affects their particular interest. Not all single-interest groups may be the best guarantors of long-term success. They are rarely obliged to think about trade-offs in policy or to consider broad, cross sector approaches to development. They are often organized to promote a particular goal rather than the broader goal of development.
  • NGOs are assumed to be less bureaucratic and corrupt than governments, but NGOs may fall into bureaucracy and bad ways because they are not accountable to anyone. NGOs are also expensive. The success of aid agencies should be measured by how soon they leave, not by how long they stay. The focus should be on creating sustainability.
  • Some NGOs' presence may inadvertently prolong or complicate wars, where they end up feeding armies, sheltering hostages, or serving as cover for warring parties.
  • Some aid groups propagate western values. Many NGO lack base in the local population, and with their money coming from the outside, try to impose their ideas without debate. Some try to promote women's and children's interests as defined by western societies, causing social disruption on the ground. Example: Anti-slavery campaigns in Africa, in which western NGOs buy children's freedom have been condemned by UNICEF, because buying slaves, if that is what they are, will little to discourage the practice of trading them. Example: NGOs that carry out population or birth control projects are particularly controversial: some are paid to carry out sterilization programs in the poor parts of the world, because donors in the rich world consider there are too many people there.
  • NGOs presence brings in western living standards and purchasing power, which can transform local markets and generate local resentment.

*The effectiveness of NGOs has been assisted by the Internet. The collection and communication of large volumes of information is no longer the domain of governments alone.

B. Addressing Close Ties Between NGOs and Governments (and the UN)

Known variously as "private voluntary organizations," "civil society organizations," "citizen associations," and "non-state actors" - they are increasingly called NGOs. The UN system uses this term to distinguish representatives of these agencies from those of governments. While many NGOs dislike the term, it has come into wide use, because the UN system is the main focus of international rule making and policy formulation in the fields where most NGOs operate. The tag "non-governmental organization" was used first at the founding of the UN. It implies that NGOs keep their distance from officialdom; they do things that governments will not, or cannot, do. But, in fact, NGOs have a great deal to do with governments. Not all of it is healthy, as I shall discuss. [James Paul]

Civil society organizations and giant corporations are potentially very important partners for the UN, but there are many of them that any kind of meaningful cooperation will be a challenge. The number of global non-governmental organizations has mushroomed in recent years, and went from an estimated 23,600 in 1991 to 44,000 in 1999. (The number of giant transnational corporations is now estimated to be over 60,000.)

There are a number of basic problems about keeping a close relationship between NGOs and governments:

  • Europe and US donors say that bilateral aid should go to NGOs, which are generally more open and efficient than governments. The NGOs are much more important to the UN as well. Most agencies now have hundreds of NGO partners. The main reason for the recent boom in NGOs is that Western Governments finance them. This is actually a matter of privatization: non-governmental groups are becoming contractors for governments. Governments prefer to pass aids through NGOs because it is cheaper, more efficient, and more readily accessible than direct official aid. However, governments sometimes use this is as a way of shirking their responsibilities.
  • Governments also find NGOs an important source of information as they bring back reports of what is happening in different regions. Often the information the NGOs gather is unavailable from other sources, such as human rights NGOs. While this is useful, governments may sometimes exploit NGOs, particularly those working in the midst of conflict, by using them as a cover for spies.
  • Some NGOs take over diplomatic functions, such as negotiating ceasefires, preventing and ending conflicts, restricting arms flow. In performing such tasks NGOs must take care not to act as "instruments of government foreign policy."
  • Perhaps the most potent sign of the closeness between NGOs and governments, aside from their financial links, is the exchange of personnel. In developing countries government may ask NGOs to help with various functions (ex: paperwork requested from the World Bank). In the developed world increasing numbers of civil servants take time off to work for NGOs, and vice versa. This may cause problems of loyalty. (However, NGOs have been accused not only of diverting funds away from local governments, but they are often seen as directly challenging their sovereignty).

C. Problems Caused by Close Relations Between NGOs and the Corporate World

  • NGOs can also stray too close to the corporate world. Some "business NGOs" deliberately model themselves on, or depend greatly on, particular corporations. Bigger ones have commercial arms, media departments, aggressive headhunting methods, varied private fund-raising and investment strategies. As they get larger, NGOs are also looking more and more like businesses themselves. In the past they sought no profits, employed idealists for low or no wages. Today, senior staff and fund-raisers earn wages comparable to the private sector. Any division between the corporate and the NGO worlds is long gone. Governments and UN could now (in theory) ask for tenders from businesses and NGOs to carry out their programs.
  • Many groups have come to depend on their media presence to help with fund raising. This is very problematic. In the current crowded relief market, campaigning groups must compete for attention — media coverage. Publicity is crucial to NGOs' success, NGOs cannot grow in membership, funding or power without the media — there are many public relation temptations that may cause distortions in their agendas. Environmental groups have often been accused of stretching facts to create a greater media impact.
  • It could be argued that it doesn't matter that NGOs are loosing their independence because many achieve great things. The best employ local people, keep foreign expertise to a minimum, attempt precise goals, and think deeply about the long term impact of their work.


The best antidote to hubris, and to institutionalization, would be for the NGO to disband when the job is done. The chief aim of NGOs should be their own abolition (not just becoming a lobby for another cause — thus perpetuating themselves). This would better insure issues of independence, accountability, transparency and devotion to the cause.

D. Possible Solutions Discussed by NGOs

  • Self-Policing — The issue of globalization has been, in recent years, associated with ‘wild' NGOs creating disturbances. Also in WCAR — Durban. Discussing creating an efficient mechanism for accreditation (consultative status), through reform in ECOSOC — committee on NGOs, to better relations with UN.
  • Code of Conduct - An event in 1994, in which Rwandan refugees flooded Congo, brought out the problem. The dramatic plight of the refugees drew media coverage, and caused NGOs to scramble for funds, even to the point of lying about their projects. The Red Cross, fearful that the media, and then the public might loose trust in NGOs, drew up a ten-point "code of conduct" for the NGOs. Since then NGOs have been working hard to improve. More than 70 groups and 142 governments backed the 1995 code of conduct. [code — on file]
  • Code of Ethics — SANGOCO Code of Ethics for NGOs in South Africa. [on file]
  • Code of Protest - The NEF is promoting a "Code of Protest" over the internet based on a pledge to non-violence at all times, in reaction to violent anti-globalization protesters, for the purpose of countering the bad name these groups give NGOs. [Cattaui]

VI. Recent Attempts to Limit the Role of NGOs

17 nations ("like-minded countries"), including a number of the 53 members of the main UN human rights body have officially called for the activities of NGOs to be limited. They have voiced concern at the growing role of NGOs, who are officially entitled to take part in the annual Human Rights Commission session. The Indonesian ambassador, speaking on behalf of the 17 countries, asked the UN to revise its rules on the accreditation of NGOs to the commission, to ensure no misconduct or abuses on the part of the NGOs .he also said the NGOs should not be permitted to distribute scurrilous and politically motivated material. He voiced particular concern with the NGOs making full use of their right to speak at the forum, particularly when they allow guests to speak in their stead (such as victims of human rights violations). The countries underline that their national sovereignty should be respected. [Bruno Franceschi]

NGO Participation in the Work of the Human Rights Commission [Eleni Petroula]

It is important for human rights defenders to work together to denounce human rights violations, therefore the Human Rights Commission is very important for NGOs. NGOs can act both formally and informally. However, the growing number of NGOs each year has lead to some problems such as more speakers, lesser quality of intervention, and poorer NGO standards. Governments accuse NGOs of this deterioration but ironically they have control over which NGOs get access to the commission and which receive consultative status. They are the ones granting accreditation to some GONGOs, enabling them to participate in the HR commission.

Because of the great increase in the number of requests from NGOs for consultative status, the NGO committee does not have the capacity to thoroughly check the quality of all applying NGOs. Thus states are trying to limit the participation of those NGOs who have consultative status. Indonesia and "like minded" states tried to undermine the role of NGOs by limiting their participation. They have tried to introduce amendments to the rules of procedures — but have not yet succeeded in doing so.

The poorer quality of NGOs legitimizes the arguments of those trying to limit NGO participation. Even those countries not hostile to NGOs that only want NGOs to work better, are trying to reform rules for NGO participation. This reform could take two directions: The reform could be an exercise to think about the contribution of the NGOs to the work of the commission, while still taking into account practical and logistical solutions. On the other hand, the reform could play into the hands of states that are trying to use the problems of the quantity and quality of NGOs to bring about a reform, which would limit the work of the NGOs who criticized those same states. Unfortunately the second option seems more likely (because reforms in the UN may open Pandora's box).

Therefore NGOs must monitor the reform process and intervene in the debate, and think of how they can exclude from the UN groups who are discrediting al the NGOs (GONGO's or bad NGOs). Independent and credible NGOs must start thinking about new propositions also for enhancing the role of NGOs in the HR Commission.


Genral claims against GONGOs is that they are often set up to speak in favor of some governments (or against other governments), either as a member of the UN Human Rights Commission (a 53-member main UN human rights body) or by getting them accredited as NGOs. The experiences in mature democracies suggest that the fear of GONGOs and QUANGOs is exaggerated, and that there is no need to ban them. In fact they are often very good and useful entities. For example the state might find that the public is more than willing to bear the costs of some public institution (ex. culture center) if it is transferred to an NGO, and the state continues to provide funds etc. NGO structure allows for much more flexibility in research institutes (more than civil service rules).

Although there are many appropriate roles for quasi-nongovernmental organizations or government organized or controlled NGOs (e.g. museums, research institutes, special lending or credit programs), great care must be taken to prevent the use of such entities to benefit government officials, directly or indirectly, either politically or monetarily. Special care must also be taken to avoid inappropriate discrimination against independent NGOs. In these situations there is a danger of conflicts of interest, self-dealing, or improper personal enrichment, therefore it is important to have clear rules about these matters and to enforce ethical standards of accountability and transparency vigilantly. There is no need to ban GONGOs and QUANGOs.

NGOs and Privatization: Throughout the world there is a strong tendency to downsize the state — privatize the economy. There is also a movement to transfer social services and facilities out of the government sector. These cannot be "privatized" in the same sense. The traditional ways in which NGOs work with governments — by contract and grant — are in fact way of "privatizing" government services. NGOs act as suppliers of the goods and deliverer of the services. However it is important to avoid the situation in which governments us such "privatization" moves to shirk important social responsibilities. The article stresses government-NGO partnerships for achieving social and economic development needs and alleviating poverty, but does not advocate a situation in which NGOs are forced to carry most of the social burden. [Chapter L (World Bank Group)]

*Eastern European countries — some political realities do not enable NGOs to survive without connections to political parties or without government sanction…Belarus



* Environmental Activism in China

One of the Problems in China is the dearth of NGOs. NGOs educate the public and create grassroots sentiment in favor o enforcing environmental laws and cleaning up the environment.

There are many hurdles to setting up a non-governmental environmental organization in China. Registration procedures and requirements and the long approval process (sometimes years) hinder the establishment of such NGOs. China's government isn't supportive of independent NGOs because of competition to resources. China has GONGOs (or QUANGOs) established by almost every ministry of the central government with a claim to an environmental or social mandate. Many of these GONGOs/QUANGOs do good work but quote official government lines and will not criticize ineffective policies or practice. The government is suspect of any organized group that does not have ties to the Communist Party. The solution: found a company instead of an NGO — it works just as well.

* Alejandro Bendana, 1998

As units of analysis, "NGOs" and "civil society" are hopelessly inadequate terms. Suggests new ones. He then challenges notions about NGOs and debates the relationship between NGOs and "Civil Society". He contests the assumption that NGOs represent people's concerns, even though they may take government money. He welcomes debate on ethical codes of conduct for NGOs.

GRO — grassroots organization defined as either locally based people's groups that work to improve their communities (territorial), or specific member groups (e.g. women), with or without global outreach or consciousness, with a member-accountable leadership. And that are substantially self-reliant.

GRSO — grassroots support organization — concerned with particular issues, that are nationally or regionally based, usually staffed by professionals, that channel funds and technical expertise to help conduct community based programs.

Both GROs and GRSOs are voluntary nonprofit organizations that pursue a social mission driven by commitment to shared values.

* Kerstin Martens, 2000 Governments/NGOs/Civil society

Brings up an interesting point through the discussion of the Vienna Conference on Human Rights 1993. Although NGOs had access to the conference and felt that it was crucial for their efforts of raising consciousness, pressuring states and advancing agendas, it is overlooked that states still decide the procedures and contents of the conference proceedings, and they also determine the extent to which NGOs participate at the actual conference and to which NGOs directly influence conference outcomes. In the case of the Vienna Conference, she claims, "states clearly restricted NGO participation in conference proceedings and drafting committees. As such, states still set out the limits of the participation of (global) civil society." In addition, the Vienna Conference demonstrated the diversities within the NGO community, particularly the North-South cleavage that exists not only between states but also within civil society.


NGO — Non-Governmental Organization

GONGO — Governmental NGO


GRINGO — NGO with a symbiotic relationship with a government.

PANGO — Party-affiliated NGO (used mostly in relation to Latin America)

DONGO — Donor-organized NGO (by government, UN, or private)

BINGO — Business NGO that has taken on corporate trappings even if not directly backed

    by businesses.

INGO — International non-governmental organization

IGO — Intergovernmental organization (such as ILO)

CSO — Civil Society Organization


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