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NON-GOVERMNETAL ORGANISATION (NGO)

General definition. are international actors whose members are not states but instead are peoplewho have come together to promote their shared interests. private , voluntary organizations that come together to achieve a common purpose.

What are their interests Varied in nature and could cover everything Environment, Animals/reptiles/insects, Human Rights, Peace; Gender, Religion, Politics, Consumer rights, Humanitarian efforts eg ICRC/Looking after Refugees/Disaster relief etc. Indigenous rights.

Evolution of NGOs 1800 - Anti slavery movement; Labour rights led to the birth of ILO in 1918; ICRC to look after wounded soldiers.

Beginning 1970s growth of NGOs became more prominent. Why? Issues taken up by the NGOs have become increasingly transnational / multifaceted in nature. States individually cannot address the issues alone eg. hijacking, HIV-AIDS, acid rain, pollution, transnational crime etc. These issues have also become part of HUMAN SECURITY issues.
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International conferences dealing with specific issues have become a common trend eg specifically on environment, population, women rights, labour rights, health etc. These conferences provided the NGOs the platform to network with other NGOs, with government / bureaucrats / IOs. Members of NGOs developed their own specialization and expertise. Have their own strategies and programmes which caught the attention of the international community including states. End of the Cold War and democratization process. Political liberalization / economic liberalization provided an opening for the NGOs. Communication revolution. NGOs capitalized on this web page, pamphlets, greater outreach, recruit new members, get the community more involved, made themselves useful, cross-boundary networking etc.

NGOs: Roles & Functions

1. Acts as advocates for specific polices and offer alternative channels for political participation. Ordinary people can get involved in advocating issues that are dear to their heart. The NGO provide an alternative channel to champion those issues. They need not have to go through political parties that are coloured by self interest / nepotism / corruption. Example: NGOs involved in monitoring human rights record, saving the whales, green policies, child labour, free elections, environmental issues, saving the flora and fauna. 2. Mobilising individuals at the grassroots level to act concertedly at national & international level eg issues related to ozone depletion. These NGOs will have their own way of tackling the issues legal/propaganda/demonstration etc. The Rio Conference (1992) landmark conference where NGOs took part at the preparatory meetings, drafted information papers, took part in the Conferences, gave their inputs in the decisions taken at the Conference. Why were they able to do so? The NGOs came from different backgrounds but equally important in their contributions to sustainable development. 3. Play unique roles at the national level on issues where the government of the day is incapable of handling, especially in the 3W. Eg. education , health, education, micro-credit, single parents etc. Private sector unable to duplicate NGOs role as they are profit-oriented.

The governments. They were able to influence policies and responses of the government. They also contributed to the fruition of national and international legal regime covering issue of their interest eg. Human Rights Watch, Labour Rights. NGOs have become actors in international relations. 5. They can also be the focus of political allegiance. This can subvert the very elements of a state. Eg. Ethnopolitical Group championing the interest of the same ethnic group that need not necessarily live within the political boundary of one state. The KURDS in West Asia, Tamil EElam in Sri Lanka.

6. Indigenous People Groups fighting for their identity/preservation of their lifestyle/native land rights- ethnic and cultural groups that live within a geographical region transcending political boundaries eg Amazonian Indians, Native Indians in Latin America, They place higher values on the commonality of their culture as opposed to patriotism to the state. They also have links with Indigenous Groups from other regions eg the Aborigines of Australia, Orang Asli of Malaysia etc.

7. Religious movements or religion-based movements fighting for their religious interest transcending political boundaries. ALQAEDA, JEMAAH ISLAMIAH, IKHWAN MUSLIMIN. Can become source of international tension. Why? Can be militant in nature viewing existing government as corrupt, illegitimate, too secular in nature etc. They also involve themselves in providing services where the governments record is bad eg education, health, social welfare. Universalist in nature. Exclusionists. Willing to use force and terror tactics. Rallying point for Irredentist and Separatist movements.

How influential & effective are they?