Article

International Nongovernmental Organizations

Valeria Bello

in International Relations

ISBN: 9780199743292
Published online April 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199743292-0051
International Nongovernmental Organizations

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International nongovernmental organizations (INGOs, usually called simply NGOs) can be considered within the framework of three different, broader categories depending on the focus of the particular debate. The first, contemplating their legal and institutional features, is that of international organizations. The second is the concept that refers to their social dimension and their composition—that is, civil society. The third, looking at their political dimension—the role they play in international relations and world politics—is the category of nonstate actors. Whatever the focus, INGOs can be defined as nonprofit organizations that operate in the field of world politics in different issue areas, claiming to defend a vulnerable part or to protect a particular common or collective good—promising a better future (see DeMars 2005, cited under General Distinctions). Therefore, as Willetts 2001 (cited under General Distinctions) illustrates, there exist many types of nongovernmental organizations whose structures differ significantly from structured organizations, such as pressure groups, professional associations, or humanitarian associations, to informal transnational networks and social movements. Required elements recognized by almost all scholars and rulers are that they must be nongovernmental and nonprofit making. The debate around this topic is broad and varied: A number of books provide general overviews of the INGOs’ world and serve as introductions to the topic or distinguish among the different types of INGOs operating within the field of world politics. Other scholars differentiate the roles INGOs play in international relations theoretically. Many books examine INGOs’ involvement in different regions of the world, while others are concerned with their activities and functions in distinct issue areas, looking at their contributions to and proliferation in established sectors, including development, democratization, peacekeeping and conflict resolution, human rights, gender issues, environment, education, and health. Some specialized international journals can also provide experts and researchers with useful data on the involvement of INGOs in particular issue areas.

Article.  10321 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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