What is an NGO?
NGO Monitor defines NGOs as autonomous non-profit and non-party/politically-unaffiliated organizations that advance a particular cause or set of causes in the public interest. The range of causes on which an NGO can focus is unlimited, but a cardinal principle is that NGOs operate in a manner consistent with the objectives for which they receive funds. Donations are an NGO’s lifeline because they are independent organizations. Funding can come from governments, the UN, private trusts and philanthropies, individual donations, religious institutions, and, in many cases, other NGOs. NGOs can contribute to democracy through challenging governments and promoting social interests, but they themselves are not democratic institutions and have no democratic accountability. An NGO is only accountable to its particular funding organizations and members. Meanwhile, criticism of a human rights NGO is often dismissed as an attack on the values of human rights themselves.