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Political Studies: IGOs & NGOs

Intergovernmental Organizations

An intergovernmental organization (IGO) is a group of members (sovereign states, countries) working together on issues of mutual self-interest.
Some IGOs are legal entities – i.e. they have been ratified by charter. The United Nations is a good example of a legally constituted IGO. Its charter links the interests of 192 member nations.
IGOs that are not chartered do not “exist” in a legal sense. But in other significant ways they certainly do exist. For example the non-chartered G7 (Group of Seven) has annual meetings dealing with the substantive political and economic concerns of the world's industrial leaders (the G7 was the G8 until 2014, when seven members suspended Russia for its annexation of Crimea).
The former Organization of African Unity is comprised of 54 of the continent's states, and has a vast slate of interests and objectives: solidarity, defense, peace, human rights, development, education, poverty, inter-state economic integration, etc.
Use “Select Language”. A 22-member group of states concerned with the region's economic improvement, dispute resolution, and coordination of political interests
File:Emblem of the Arab League.svg
Emblem of the Arab League
   Wikimedia Image
Attribution Jeff Dahl. No changes. CC License
21 Pacific-rim countries aiming at economic cooperation, free/freer trade, and sustainable growth
Commonwealth of Nations is a 53-member association of former British-empire territories. Objectives and interests include peace, democracy, individual liberty, free trade, equality, and development  
Regional economic cooperation, with a stated goal of a political federation of states
Political-economic union of 28 member states
The ICC is an IGO and international tribunal that tries cases of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity
International organization of police forces. Political Handbook of the World identifies Interpol as an IGO, but Wikipedia calls it an NGO. If you define an IGO as a group of nations, then Interpol is arguably an NGO. Or it might have qualities of both
IDB is the largest source of development financing in Latin America and the Caribbean
Finances infrastructure, modernisation, and education projects in its member states and non-member Muslim countries
OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries)
A cartel of oil-states with the fairly limited aim of coordinating and unifying the oil production policies of its members
15 states in Africa that want improved social & economic cooperation, political integration, and enhanced security
The largest IGO, it deals with issues of peace, security, development, & human rights
Western European Union (WEU) (Union de l'Europe occidentale (UEO))
Both an international organization and a military union
The successor organization to GATT regulates and supervises the international trade of its members 

Other resources on IGOs:   

Google Custom Search effectively limits your search to IGO links
IGO library guide at Northwestern University has an extensive alphabetical list of IGOs, including tabs for the agencies of the UN and European Union
United Nations Digital Library Documents, speeches, votes, public domain publilcations, etc.
Harvard Law School page defining and describing IGOs.

Nongovernmental Organizations

What is an NGO? says that an NGO:
  • is a non-profit, voluntary citizens' group;
  • is organized on a local, national or international level;
  • can perform a variety of service and humanitarian functions;
  • is usually organized around specific issues such as human rights, environment or health.
A straightforward definition...but questions remain. The watchdog group Global Policy Forum asks some of these questions here.
Wikipedia also has a detailed article about NGOs: what they are, how they can be classified, what they do, and how they are organized, funded, and monitored. The legitimacy of some NGOs is also scrutinized.
Technically, at least, NGOs do not promote a government agenda. However, many NGOs are funded by government – for example, a lot of non-military government foreign aid is channelled through NGOs. The Greenwood Encyclopedia of International Relations diplomatically calls this situation “not entirely unproblematic” (1172), which might be one reason some NGOs (like Human Rights Watch) shun government funding.
NGO project worker in Rwanda 2010 
Wikimedia Commons
No changes. CC License
An American “transformative” investment and loan organization supporting projects to reduce global poverty
AI’s objective: "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."
International organization focussed on prevention of torture, or cruel and degrading treatment
Development activities in Least Developed Countries
Largest development NGO in the world, working to reduce poverty, illiteracy, and disease
International humanitarian and development agency
CARE packages were originally donated by the US as
emergency food relief to people in Europe in 1945.
The food package pictured was shipped in 1962
- destination unknown.
Wikimedia Commons image by Daderot is released into the Public Domain
A small American NGO dedicated to the defense of the human rights of indigenous peoples
International Christian relief and development organization
Peace & environment NGO concerned with issues like deforestation, overfishing, genetic engineering, & nuclear power
Conduct research, raise awareness, advocate for basic human rights (e.g. freedom of religion; freedom of the press), and oppose violations of rights (e.g. capital punishment; discrimination based on sexual orientation)
“Doctors” was in the vanguard of the “without borders” NGOs, and has a reputation for providing medical assistance under conditions of great duress and difficulty. The vast majority of its funding is from private philanthropists, meaning the organization is independent of the institutional interests of governments
Supports development programs, disaster response and anti-poverty initiatives
Provides relief and support for children in developing countries
Christian humanitarian aid, development, and advocacy
File:Reef check survey buddy pair.png
 Reef Check: an NGO dedicated to the conservation of
reef ecosystems, here taking data on the
Great Barrier Reef
Wikimedia Commons image by Steveprutz
No changes. CC License
Other Resources on NGOs:
WANGO: (World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations)
An umbrella organization that facilitates partnership, communication, and resource-sharing among NGOs.
Their directory of members (there are many thousands of them) is here.  
GJ issues an annual edition of its Top 100 NGOs. View the top 20 for free (you need to subscribe to see the whole list). As you reflect on GJs choices you can also think about the methodology used by GJ to distinguish and elevate these from among the hundreds of thousands of other NGOs.