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The UN, People & Politics

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Importance of NGOs
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Since World War II ended in 1945 and the United Nations came into operation, we began to notice the letters NGOs used with relative frequency. These letters stand for Non Governmental Organizations. For all practical purposes we may conclude that all existent organizations that are not governmental they must be Non Governmental. This may certainly be viewed as pure common sense. Just as we do have a variety of governmental organizations, we also have a great amount of different Non Governmental Organizations. 


1st Feb 2006 - Charles Mercieca ~ STWR

In every country, each government is run by a series of organizations that may be referred to by a variety of names like departments, agencies, and institutes in addition to others. Each of these organizations is represented by a director or minister or secretary or any other title a government may wish to devise or create. Needless to say, each one runs on a governmental budget and everyone that works within such entities works on a paid salary.

The business conducted by such governmental organizations anywhere in the world seems to function along the same lines regardless of the type or structure of government. On the other hand, when we come to Non Governmental Organizations, the variety is enormous. This explains why we need to learn more about the structure and purpose of such organizations, which are found in every country across every continent.

Let us bring a few examples to illustrate this great variety of NGOs. Every religious congregation or order, like the Dominicans, the Benedictines, the Franciscans and the Jesuits among numerous others are all Non Governmental Organizations in the sense that they are not controlled by any rules and regulations of any government. The congregation of nuns of the well-known Mother Teresa has been undoubtedly an NGO from the outset. This type of NGOs may be classified as religious.

Other types of NGOs may be enlisted as academic or educational like the National Education Association, the Philosophy of Education Society, the Boy Scouts Association, and the list goes on and on. Besides, we do have NGOs that stemmed from the field of sociology like Marriage Encounter, Alcoholic Anonymous, and various supporting groups for widows and widowers and for the handicap. In recent times, we find many NGOs working for a variety of vital human causes, like peace education, environmental protection, human rights and disarmament. Some work on a budget while others work merely as volunteers.

Importance of Non Governmental Organizations

The various governments of the world have at least one thing in common. They all know that without people involvement in the solution of problems, the nation may deteriorate to the point of disintegration and self-annihilation. In fact, in countries where we have plenty of volunteers working through various Non Governmental Organizations, we tend to discover less problems and less human suffering. Very fortunately, from the very outset, the United Nations has realized this tangible evidence and thus it proceeded to establish good rapport with several NGOs. These good relations of the UN with selected NGOs should continue to be strengthened, and to grow and to develop further.

As to whether an NGO works closely with the United Nations through the establishment of some link or not is irrelevant for all practical purposes. What should be important lies in the fact that we do have volunteers who give their time, energy and expertise to help make the world better. Over the past 60 years, since the United Nations came into existence, NGOs have played a big role in the implementation of the peaceful objectives of this world body of nations. In fact, many believe that if the League of Nations had been blessed with the assistance of Non Governmental Organizations, it might have never disintegrated and gone into oblivion. It might have grown to become instrumental in the prevention of World War II and many other conflicts that took place around the world.

Many even believe that had it not been for NGOs, the United Nations, the way we know it today, would have ceased to exist quite a few years ago. Those that work within the confines of the United Nations should be grateful to NGOs which were eventually instrumental to help them keep their job. Moreover, those governments that tend to use the United Nations to exert their influence in any way they wish in some global areas should also be grateful to NGOs for doing vital humanitarian work that some governments tended to ignore. In essence, the presence of NGOs has always been for the United Nations and the world at large a win-win situation.

Those NGOs that have established some link with the United Nations should concentrate totally and thoroughly on the amount of contributions they could possibly make through the positive and constructive utilization of their expertise. They should view as their primary mission the implementation of the positive and constructive goals of the United Nations. Needless to say, when it comes to the implementation of such UN goals, there should be no difference whatsoever in the work of those NGOs that do not happen to have established some link with the world body of nations.

NGOs in True Perspective

If we were to examine what outstanding NGOs that were religious in nature, such as the congregation of Mother Teresa have done, we all notice that they dedicated their time and energy to bring peace among all people they came across. Besides, they all tried to safeguard the purity of air and water to the best of their ability. Moreover, they all showed sensitivity on the question of human rights that relate to adequate shelter, proper nourishment, good health care, and relevant education. And lastly, they all viewed peace as a sacrosanct human right that could be obtained properly and effectively only through disarmament and arms control.

Hence, these UN humanitarian objectives are not a monopoly of NGOs that happened to have established some link with the UN but they are the moral obligation to follow and implement of all NGOs in every realm of society across every continent. Regardless of its defects and handicap, the United Nations still remains the best instrument we have available in the world today to whip things into order and to bring about world peace. We all should help the UN to create a good environment where people could enjoy a healthy life, where people could communicate freely with each other without any fear, and where violence that is often instigated through the waging of wars would become a thing of the past.

In view of what has been stated, it is obvious that Governmental Organizations have a unique role to play in the constructive management of a nation. At the same time, Non Governmental Organizations of any kind have the sacrosanct duty to provide their expertise as to enable the United Nations become more productive. In their work, Non Governmental Organizations should maintain their identity as distinct from that of the UN by not printing any UN lettering following the name of their respective organization, by never printing the UN logo in any of their publications, and by focusing thoroughly on the UN goals they are trying to achieve. This way the focus of NGOs on mere vital human needs would continue to bring about positive results everywhere.

We may state categorically that the ultimate objective of NGOs, regardless of their character, nature and eventual original purpose, is to make substantial contributions toward the creation of a better and more stable global community. This ultimate objective is best achieved primarily through a thorough dedication to the achievement of four main United Nations? goals that were mentioned earlier, that is, peace education, environmental protection, human rights and disarmament. NGOs should become the source of inspiration for every government to respect and implement these vital human needs.

Peace Education: The preamble of UNESCO starts with the words: ?Since wars begin in the minds of men it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.? The schools should serve not only as an instrument to impart knowledge but also as a seat of inspiration through which students may learn how to use the acquired knowledge just for positive and constructive purposes.

Environmental Protection: For human beings to survive they must have both clean air and pure water. The air and water pollution that is being emitted by big industries, ironically supported by leading industrial governments, is leading millions a year prematurely to their graves through needless cancer and other deadly diseases. NGOs must bring this episode into the open for everyone to see.

Human Rights: One of the best documents in this regard is the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which was signed by all nations. In spite of this, every single nation without exception tends to violate one segment or another of this sacred document. Human beings have a sacrosanct right for free health care and education, for adequate housing facilities and appropriate nourishment.

Disarmament and Arms Control: We learn from history that the waging of wars never solved problems in the long range. They always served to instigate more problems and to deteriorate the quality of human life. NGOs in every segment of the community should emphasize the criminality of war, which by its very nature, disregards all kinds laws: divine, natural, ecclesiastic and civic.

What is highly encouraging lies in the fact that several Non Governmental Organizations, from every segment of the community, have already taken gigantic steps to dedicate themselves toward the achievement of United Nations? goals that we have just outlined, namely, peace education, environmental protection, human rights and disarmament. Among such NGOs, that may or may not have any link with the UN, we find religious groups, humanitarian and educational organizations in addition to academic scholars and social workers that work harmoniously together in the best interest of the entire world.