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Non-governmental organization
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Non-governmental organization

A Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) is an organization which is independent from governments and their policies. Generally, although not always, these are non-profit organizations that gain at least a portion of their funding from private sources. Because of the negative definition, (the implication that an NGO is anything that is not government), many NGOs now prefer the term Private voluntary organization (PVO).

The phrase came into use with the establishment of the United Nations in 1945 with provisions in Article 71 of Chapter 10 of the United Nations Charter [1] for a consultative role for organizations that are not governments / Member States - see Consultative Status. The vital role of NGOs and other "Major groups" in sustainable development was recognized in Chapter 27 of Agenda 21, leading to revised arrangements for Consultative relationship between the United Nations and non-governmental organizations [1].

NGOs exist for a variety of different purposes, usually to further the political and/or social goals of their members. Some example goals include improving the state of the natural environment, encouraging the observance of human rights, improving the welfare of the disadvantaged, or representing a corporate agenda. However, there are a huge number of such organisations and their goals cover a broad range of political and philosophical positions. This can also easily be applied to private/semi-private schools and athletic organizations.

NGOs also vary in their methods. Some act primarily as lobbyists, while others primarily conduct programs and activities. (For instance, an NGO concerned with poverty alleviation might provide food to the needy.)

The relationship between business, governments, and NGOs can be quite complex and sometimes antagonistic, particularly when NGOs act to oppose the activities of governments and businesses.

See also: civil society, charity, philanthropy, service club.

Example of different types of NGOs: (contains links to external sites)

see also Attacks on humanitarian workers

see also: Political science, Quasi-autonomous non-government organisation