Civil Society and Non-Governmental Organisations

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International non-government organisations have become the public face of civil society. Many significant global issues are associated and identified with an international NGO or NGOs such as Greenpeace for the environment, Oxfam for fair trade, Amnesty International for human rights, and Jubilee 2000 for Third World debt.


In just 20 years the number of international NGOs has increased from 13,000 in 1981 to more than 47,000 in 2001 (Wild, 2006). The NGO sector has become "the eight largest economy in the world" worth $1 trillion, with an annual budget of $15 billion for development programs, 19 million paid staff members and countless volunteers, and the good will and respect of millions around the world (Hall-Jones, 2006).
Public response to NGOs has been much more positive than negative on both global and national levels. Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Anan called NGOs the "new superpower" (Scheper, 2001). The praise is not undeserved. At least part of the credit in establishing international agreements and norms about environmental issues (the Kyoto Protocol), human rights (campaign against torture of suspected terrorists), gender equality (rape in conflict areas), and other concerns should go to NGOs. In many developing nations, especially where authoritarianism and corruption are deeply rooted and persistent problems, NGOs are often considered to be more responsive, trustworthy and competent, especially in defending people against human rights violations by state actors and in the delivery of badly needed health, education and other services. ...
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