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Governmental Support of International Non-governmental Organizations (Part #4)


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1. Membership

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 governments.

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.

Nationalized industries 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.

2. Finance

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.

Government financial 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.


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