Governmental Support of International Non-governmental Organizations
- / -
Published in International Associations, 1968, 7, pp
466-473 [PDF version].
Also French version (Les contributions gouvernementales aux organisations internationales non-gouvernementales, Associations Internationales, 1968, 7, pp. 477-508; PDF version)
Part I: Survey
A resolution adopted by the Economic and Social Council on June 6,
1967 [Res. 1225 .(XLII)] resulted in a laborious process of revision
consultative status of non-governmental organizations in relation with the
Council. Several times already this year there, has been reference to this
subject in the columns of our magazine, in particular in the January and
February numbers (pp 2-31 and 86-91). During
the discussions of the NGO
Committee of the Economic and Social Council held in March and April this
year a final draft resolution (E/C. 2/L.28) was made of the revision of
Resolution 288 B (X) which dates from 1950 and
which up to now has
determined the system of consultative relations between the United Nations
and NGOs. The Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Status with ECOSOC (1) has circulated to its members
document containing the texts of Resolution 288 B (X) and the draft resolution E/. 2/L.28, a list of the paragraphs of the new text showing the most
significant changes to the 1950 arrangements, and a commentary
on the main
trends in evidence during the sessions of the NGO Committee of ECOSOC in
March and April.
discussions dealt mainly with the character of NGOs : their
international quality, their representativeness. In the May 1968 issue
of "International Associations" the
UAI published a documentary analysis
of statistics relating to national participation in international NGOs and
showing the progress made as regards the geographical extension of leadership
The NGO Committee
of ECOSOC also expressed concern over the presence
of government representatives among the members and leading officials of
NGOs and the question of direct or indirect financial support from governments, factors which could affect the non-governmental character of these
There appears to be a good deal of ignorance of the facts and much confusion
regarding this subject, and for this reason we are pleased to publish in the
following pages a detailed analysis made by our collaborator A.J. Judge, together
with a commentary on the findings by G.P. Speeckaert.
Purpose of Survey
The survey was
conducted in order to
determine to what extent governmental support of any kind was given to international
non-governmental organizations. The distinction between intergovernmental organizations
(IGOs) and international non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) is based on the definition adopted by the Economic and Social
Council of the United Nations in its Resolution 288 b (x)
of 27 February
'Any international organization which is
not established by intergovernmental agreement shall be considered as a non governmental organization'.
This survey is
only concerned with government support of international non-profit,
non-governmental organizations. Commercial
organizations, international corporations,
etc have therefore been excluded, except
where they have linked together via a nonprofit organization.
Support was taken
to have two meanings in this context. Governments or
their subsidiary organs can either be
direct members of non-governmental organizations in which there is a category
permitting governmental membership. The
governments are then providing partial support of the organization as members. Alternatively, as non-members, governments or
their subsidiary organs can provide financial
assistance of one kind or another. In the
first case, this financial assistance will also
include membership fees. In the second
case, the financial assistance may take the
form of direct grants, subsidies, etc. which
may cover any percentage of the organization's budget.
Data for the Survey
The 1,935 international non-governmental organizations which were analyzed
in this survey are those listed in the llth edition of the Yearbook of International
Organizations (1966-67). This publication has an editorial policy endorsed by
the United Nations.
The survey was
based on the data as listed
in the entries in the Yearbook. The majority
of these entries has been approved by the
executive officers of the organizations concerned. Different interpretations are however made on the terminology used in describing membership types and the nature of
financial support in different countries and
languages. Every effort is made to eliminate
the more obvious discrepancies when the
Yearbook entries are prepared, but the editorial staff cannot depart to any great extent
from the text returned by the organization.
No effort at reinterpretation was made during this survey. It may therefore be assumed that the survey was made on the most
comparable data base available under the
circumstances when it was impracticable to
attempt a detailed analysis of each organization.
Survey Categories Used
Two types of governmental
support of international NGOs were distinguished.
A Membership was noted when the
Yearbook entry indicated some form of direct
governmental or official membership participation. The terminology accepted as being
indicative of this was the following :
- Government or State membership category.
- Government departments amongst members.
- Governmental delegates or officials in official capacity.
- Governmental, semi-governmental, official or semi-official institutions
B' Membership was noted when the Yearbook entry
indicated some form of indirect governmental or official participation
in the membership of the organization. Indirect participation was defined as
participation through a body, which may or may not be independent of the government
(depending on the degree of nationalization in a given country), but which normally
receives some form of government financial assistance. When such a body is a
member of an international NGO, it is clear that a form of partial governmental
financial support is being provided for that NGO.
This category of
membership was noted
when bodies such as the following were indicated as being members of the NGO :
- National broadcasting organizations.
- Railway administrations.
- Military health authorities.
- National museums.
- National airlines.
- Patent offices.
- Lighthouse authorities.
2. Financial Assistance
Two principal types
of governmental financial assistance to international non-governmental organizations were distinguished. A
third category was introduced to cover possible governmental assistance.
'C' Finance was noted when the Yearbook entry indicated some form of direct
government financial assistance was being
supplied. The terminology accepted as being
indicative of this was the following :
- Government grant, subsidy, subvention, assistance, etc.
- Membership fees where 'A' type membership existed, except where
membership fees were not a stated source of income.
Excluded from the
'C' category were the
- Government contracts.
- UN or Specialized Agency contracts or aid.
'D' Finance was noted when the Yearbook entry indicated some form of indirect
or less clearly specified financial aid from
official bodies. Indirect support was defined
to include support from a body of the type
indicated under 'B' membership.
accepted as being indicative of this was the following :
- Grants from official or public bodies, including intergovernmental bodies.
- Grants-in-aid, subsidies.
- Membership fees where 'B' type membership existed, except where
membership fees where not a stated source of income.
Excluded from the
'D' category were the
- Grants from foundations, private sources, industry, municipalities, UN
and Specialized Agencies.
E' Finance was noted when the Yearbook entry indicated some form of 'grant'
of an unspecified
origin. This category will
clearly include a proportion of governmental
or official grants of the 'C' and
but also includes grants from private sources.
This category is only useful as an indication
of the possible extent of government financial
accepted as being indicative of this was the following :
Comment on Categories Used
One very important type of government indirect support of non-governmental
organizations is not covered by the categories as they stand. The Yearbook entry
does not distinguished between ' institutions ' of governmental and
non-governmental type as members of international non-governmental organizations.
In many cases this is probably because the organization itself does not evaluate
to what extent a national research institution, or some such body, is government
supported or independent. This problem of institutions is particularly important
in the field of science. A separate survey would need to be performed to determine
what proportion of all institutions were government supported and what proportion
of each of their programs was government financed. Such bodies were not considered
as indicative of category 'B' membership support. An example might
be an international association of cereal chemistry, where the national members,
particularly in the developing countries, would tend to be government research
institutes rather than private bodies supported by industry.
In addition the
survey does not bring out
the cases where an international NGO may
be a member of or receive funds from another international NGO which may have
either governments as members or receive
direct finance from governments. This is
particularly true of the member organizations of the International Council of Scientific Unions which would not have been indicated as receiving government aid even
though they might be receiving grants from
ICSU. A portion of these grants would come
from those members of ICSU which are
The problem of
determining the extent to
which a member of an international nongovernmental organization is an extension of
the government of a particular country
extends to bodies such as public cleansing
institutes, school associations (which may
include government schools), universities
(which may be entirely government financed), hospitals, etc.
It is also difficult
to evaluate the status
of the non-governmental organizations in the
socialist countries where such associations
are so much more closely integrated into the
state administrative apparatus. A rather
unsatisfactory example of this situation is the
long standing controversy over the ' amateur
status ' of athletes from these countries participating in the Olympic Games. The majority of these athletes is probably represented
on national Olympic committees - nongovernmental organizations - nevertheless
the means by which the individual athletes
training is financed is still a matter of controversy.
Municipalities were also treated as a borderline case and were not considered
as indicative of 'B' type membership, although municipalities and
local authorities are arms of the central government in many countries.
such as gas, coal,
steel may be members of international nongovernmental organizations. The members
from some of the other member countries
may not be nationalized. The study does not
bring out such forms of governmental support, except as defined under category 'B'.
The problem is
also complex at the national level since a government body may be
one of many members of a national organization, e.g. a government library may
be a member of a national library
association which is non-governmental. This
national non-governmental association may
then become a member of an international
non-govermnental library association.
The study does
not indicate any forms
of indirect support of international non-governmental organizations by government
through tax relief legislation. In some countries both the national non-governmental
organizations and any international organizations would receive indirect financial assistance because of preferential tax status for
non-profit organizations. The form of this
legislation varies extensively from country
to country being more lenient for some
groups in one country than for equivalent
groups in another.
In the United States,
for example, government tax relief extends even further in that
subscribers to some periodicals may treat the
annual subscription as a tax deductible expenditure. This results in indirect government support for the national organization
and, more indirectly, for any international
organization to which that national organization may belong.
Other forms of government assistance to non-governmental organizations are
: government training programs for officers of national organizations (e.g.
trade unions), government paid part-time officers of non-governmental organizations
(e.g. where a particular civil servant is permitted to devote part of his working
time to administering such an organization), government or IGO financial assistance
in the organization of an international meeting of a non-governmental organization
(e.g. supply of meeting hall, travel expenses, hotel expenses, entertainment,
etc.). None of these could he detected by this survey.
assistance to nongovernmental organizations is particularly
important in developing countries where
there are not sufficient private resources to
support national participation in international voluntary action. The extent of this form
of support could not be detected by this survey.
Relation between governmental support and policy formulation and control
a) As a result
of Government Membership.
Governmental membership of international non-governmental organizations does
not necessarily result in governmental
control of policy. Where both governmental and non-governmental bodies are
members of a non-governmental organization, policy control depends on the
manner in which the voting system is
designed and the relative number of governmental and non-governmental members.
b) As a result of Government Finance. Government finance of international
nongovernmental organizations does not necessarily result in governmental control
of policy. Each case must be judged on its merits. In some cases government
aid is given for one particular program of the international non-governmental
organization. The other programs may be of no interest to the governmental body
concerned and any control it might have over the way in which the aid is used
for the one program would not necessarily result in any control over the other
programs of the organization. In many such cases the government concerned is
only justified in requesting a copy of the accounts for the fund or program
with which it is associated.
Summary of Channels
of Government Support of International NGOs.
This list is given in an extremely approximate order of degree of governmental participation in policy formulation. The order is
approximate because the voting systems and
degree of governmental influence vary in
each case, as does the degree of control over
expenditure of government allocated funds.
Government contract to NGO
Government direct membership ('A' type)
Government indirect membership ('B' type)
or financed bodies which are directly or indirectly members of international NGOs (e.g.
universities, nationalized industries, research councils,
hospitals, municipalities, etc.)
finance of NGO
(or 'A' membership fees)
(or 'B' membership fees)
Covered as 'A' type
Covered as 'B' type
Not covered unless
a specific link with government
Covered as 'C' type; but
is not comprehensive as some of these funds are under
'E' and some are not mentioned
Covered as 'D' type; but
is not comprehensive as some of these funds are under
'E' and some are not mentioned
- Government legislative tax relief to international NGOs or Not covered
indirectly to their national members
- Government control, membership or finance of a national Not covered organization
which is a member of a national NGO, which is itself a member of an international
- Government aid or tax relief to businesses or corporations Not covered
which are linked through national or international NGOs
A. Total international non-governmental organizations 1935
Less: Common Market NGOs for which no details on ' Members '
or ' Finance ' are given 245 1690 100 %
Total indicating government support as members
- direct (A) 59 3.5%
- indirect (B) 64 3.8 %(only 1 organization had
both A and B)
government financial support
- direct (C) 97 5.7%
- indirect (D) 104 5.7% (only 4 organizations had
both C and D)
Total indicating possible government support
- (E) 94 5.6% (only 1 organization had both E and
A 1 organization had both E and B and D no organization had E and C)
Total organizations indicating A, B, C or D 219 13.0%
Total organizations indicating A, B, C, D or E
B. The following combinations between different forms of support were noted
(excluding E) :
- A and B only: 1
- B and C only: 4
- A and C and D: 4
- A and C only: 42
- B and D only: 47
- A, B, C and D: 1
- A and D only: 1
C. The results were compared with the classification of NGOs according
to their consultative relationship with the United Nations Ecosoc. (The list
available in April 1968 was used for purposes of comparison, whereas that listed
in the 1966/67 Yearbook should have been used. The changes are not significant.)
- Ecosoc Categories used in this survey: A B
C D E
- UN Ecosoc Category A status: 2 2 12 17
- UN Ecosoc Category B status: 6 9 15 14 14 42 143 29
- UN Ecosoc Categ. Register status: 14 10 17 20 11 49 222 22
The results show that 219, namely 13.0 % of the 1,690 international
non-governmental organizations (excluding the 245 Common Market NGOs) listed
in the 1966-67 Yearbook of International Organizations have themselves
indicated that they have some form of governmental participation in policy
formulation. A further 5.6 % have indicated some form of unspecified '
grant ' financing of which a certain proportion will probably be of government
origin. (The figure of 13.0 % should also be recognized as excluding
any form of aid or contract from the United Nations or the Specialized Agencies,
as well as any other form of government 'contract'.)
The survey does
not establish the extent
of government influence, since this will
vary from organization to organization
depending on the design of the voting
system and the comparative number of governmental and non-governmental members.
The influence will also vary from year to
year depending on whether grants or membership are continued by governments, and also
on the increase in the membership or participation of non-governmental members.
The survey could
not bring out a very
important source of indirect participation by
governments in policy formulation of international non-governmental organizations, namely, the ambiguous or bordeline cases where the national members were listed as 'institutions' which may, in many cases, be bodies
under governmental control or which have
some form of governmental assistance. The
influence of government through nationalized industries 'which are members of international non-governmental organizations also
varies from country to country. These would
require a separate survey.
The figure of 13.0 °/o is therefore a minimum. Some organizations did
not reply on certain points. Detailed replies by organizations on the relationship
between each national member and the government of its country would complete
the picture, but such a survey would be difficult to perform in practice. Due
to the maze of terminology and definitions employed in various countries and
languages, these results are the best indication of the true situation that
could be given without undertaking a lengthy and considerably more detailed
Les contributions gouvernementales aux organisations internationales
Une résolution adoptée par le Conseil Economique et Social le 6 juin 1967
[Res. 1225 (XLII)] a suscité un laborieux processus
de révision du statut consultatif des organisations non-gouvernementales auprès
de ce Conseil. Il en a déjà été plusieurs fois question cette année dans
nos colonnes et notamment dans notre numéro de février p. 86 à 91. Les discussions
au sein du Comité ONG du Conseil Economique et Social qui ont eu lieu en mars
et avril 1968 ont mis au point un projet (E/C. 2 L. 28) de révision
de la résolution 288 B (X) qui date de 1950 laquelle a jusqu'à
présent réglé le système des relations consultatives entre les Nations Unies
et les ONG.
La Conference des ONG ayant le statut consultatif auprès de
l'ECOSOC (1) a adressé à ses membres un excellent document comportant le texte
de la résolution 288 B (X), celui du projet de résolution E/C.
2/L. 28, une liste des paragraphes du nouveau texte qui apportent des changements
sensibles aux dispositions de 1950, enfin un commentaire des principales tendances
manifestées au cours des séances du Comité ONG de l'Ecosoc en
mars et en avril.
Les discussions de ce Comité ont porté notamment sur le caractère des ONG
: leur qualité internationale, leur représentativité. A titre documentaire,
l'UAI a préparé des statistiques et publié (numéro
de mai 1968 de Associations Internationales) une analyse de celles-ci portant
sur l participation nationale aux ONG et montrant notamment le progrès réalisé
dans le domaine de l'extension géographique du leadership
et des membres.
Le Comité ONG de l'ECOSOC s'est également inquiété de la présence de représentants
gouvernementaux au sein des membres ou de la direction des ONG, du financement
directement ou indirectement gouvernemental: ces éléments n'affecteraient-ils
pas le caractère non gouvernemental de ces ONG?
Il nous a paru que beaucoup d'ignorance et de confusion régnait à ce sujet.
C'est pourquoi nous sommes heureux de publier ci-dessous une analyse attentive
faite par notre collaborateur Anthony Judge, ainsi qu'un
commentaire de ces données par G.P. Speeckaert. (Texte français pages 477-481)