NGOs, Non-Governmental Organizations, have become very important players in international affairs. They were recognized in the UN Charter in 1945 when they were given consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Though there is no universally-accepted definition of an NGO, there are several characteristics that must be present. They must (1) be independent of the control of any government, (2) not function as a political party, (3) be non-profit, and (4) engage in legitimate non-criminal activities. They focus on such issues as political rights, human rights, women’s rights, health care, environmental protection, and economic development. Currently a little more than 3,000 NGOs have consultative status with the UN.
Use the Non-governmental Organization Search Engine to search across NGO's websites. Sites were chosen based on their consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and also collated from University of Minnesota Human Rights Library, Duke University Libraries' NGO Research Guide, and the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (WANGO).