Definition non-violent (Willetts, n.d.). These characteristics are commonly

Definition
of non-governmental organizations

Non-governmental
organizations (hereinafter – NGO) are intermediary among individuals, international
organizations and governments. They are part of the civil society, which is broader
concept that includes interest groups, religious associations, trade union and
et cetera. When it comes to definition, there is no universally accepted
definition of non-governmental organizations, and the term carries different
connotations in different context. However, the definition of non-governmental
organizations has some fundamental features: NGOs should be independent from
any governmental influence and control. In addition, NGO must be non-political,
not for profit and non-violent (Willetts, n.d.). These characteristics are
commonly used as they reflect the conditions for recognition by the UN.  Non-governmental organizations can have
different forms in different countries: not for profit organizations, public
funds, public associations, non-governmental organizations and others. NGOs can
also be divided into two thematic categories they work with such as generalized
(civil and political rights, economic, social and cultural rights) and specific
(child rights, rights of persons with disabilities, freedom from torture and etc.).
Moreover, NGOs can be divided into two groups based on where they work:
national or international. Some NGOs can work both at national and
international levels. This essay will explore one specific type of
non-governmental organizations, namely human rights NGOs.

According to the Wiseberg, human
rights nongovernmental organization can be identified as a private association
which devotes significant resources to the promotion and protection of human
rights, which is independent of both governmental and political groups that
seek direct political power, and which does not itself seek such pow (Wiseberg, 1991).  The more specific definition of human rights NGO
is given by Martin Olz: “Generally, for an NGO to be considered as human rights
NGO it should be of private character and its work should be guided by the idea
of international human rights as set forth in the UN Declaration of Human
Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and other instrument
of international law” (Olz, 1997). The
latter definition of human rights NGO is used in the context of this essay.

 

Legal
basis of the NGOs

Freedom of association, recognized in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights (Article 20), the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights (Article 22), the International Covenant on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights (Article 8), in the International Convention on
Protection from All Forms of Discrimination (Article 5), as well as in a number
of regional and special treaties, is a legal basis for creation and activities
of NGOs. These important international legal documents enshrine the right of
every person to freedom of association and “the right of each person to
form unions and act in such to protect their interests”. These two rights
are essential elements of the purpose and existence of non-governmental
organizations.  

The term “non-governmental organization” as
a legal lexicon in the course of the creation of the Charter of the United
Nations in the year due to the inclusion of Article 71, a radical innovation at
the time, which enabled NGOs to participate legally in international relations
and multilateral diplomacy. According to Frantz and Martens the UN decided to
specifically mention non-governmental actors in its Charter of 1945, because
very many representatives of civil society organizations helped to work out the
UN Charter and through Article 71 international community of sovereign states
wanted acknowledge role of NGOs1.

1