You are here

International NGO Groupings


Published in International Associations, 1969, 2, pp. 89-93


The number of international NGOs continues to increase. The new edition of the Yearbook of International Organizations lists 2,417 which represents an increase of nearly 10 % on the previous edition two years ago. The increasing number of NGOs, and the highly specialised areas with which some of them are concerned leads to a problem of coordination when a number want to work together on some programme in a common field of interest. This problem has resulted in the creation of a number of groupings of international NGOs. These are NGOs which have international NGOs as members.

In future issues of this magazine we shall attempt to highlight the current activities of these coordinating groups. First, however, we thought it would be interesting to find out exactly how many such groups were currently operating. It seems that the last time that we made a systematic effort to do this was in 1957, although we have dealt frequently with the activities of individual groupings during each year. There are a number of different types of NGO groupings. In 1957, G.P. Speeckaert (Les effort systématiques de coopération entre organisations internationales non-gouvernementales. "Associations Internationales". 1957, n° 1, pp. 29-36.) found the following:

  • non-specialist groups of NGOs (1);
  • major scientific councils (8);
  • trade union and professional groupings (5);
  • specialist liaison groups, consisting of only international member NGOs (10);
  • principally international but also national member NGOs (7);
  • principally national but also international member NGOs (21);
  • consultative conferences and committees (7); and
  • regional federations of international associations (2).

This makes a total of 61 international groupings of various types. The list of currently operating NGO groupings
which is reproduced below, was developed from the 11th edition of the Yearbook of International Organizations. Three major categories of organization were defined. These are :

Type A ; Groupings in which independent international NGOs collaborate to promote "common interests";

Type B: Groupings established to promote a particular kind of activity; membership in which is open to international and national NGOs wholly or partially concerned with such activity.

Type C : International NGOs which function as parent body for dependent regional or specialised NGOs.

Some groupings have a complex structure which qualifies them under two or three of the types. In such cases they have been allocated to a type, according to the relative importance of the international, national or dependent member organizations. The reasoning behind such allocations, and some indication of the 'coordinative importance' of the grouping may be checked from the three columns of membership figures given after each name in the list.

These indicate :
Column 1 :    Number  of  member  international organizations
Column 2:     Number of countries represented by national members
Column 3:    Number of dependent regional or specialist organizations.

The case of the International Council of Scientific Unions is even more complex, because the Council itself has dependent organizations which could be considered as Type A organizations is their own right. It also has international members such as the International Union of Biological Sciences which themselves have both independent and dependent members.

There are many grades of membership ranging dependent committees to cope with  problems from full through associate, affiliate, consulting, posed by the Common Market. The existence of etc   No attempt has been made to distinguish these   committees   makes   the   parent   body   a between them. Membership has therefore been Type C coordinating organization. Since there
taken in the broadest sense. were  33,  and they  constitute  a special  case, A number of international  NGOs have special they have not been included.

Type A
Christian Democratic World Union 3 -- 2
Common Market Liaison Bureau for the Ceramic Industries 5 -- --
Conference of International Catholic Organizations 38 -- --
Conference of International Non-Governmental Organizations Approv ed for Consultative Arrangements with Unesco 250 -- --
Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council 360 -- --
Conference of World Organizations Interested in the Handicapped 23 3 --
Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences 58 8 --
Council of European Commercial Federations 24 11 --
Federation of International Associations Established in Belgium 185 -- --
Federation   of   Semi-Official   and   Private   International   Institutions Established in Geneva 75 -- --
International Centre for the Co-ordination of Legal Assistance ? -- --
International Cinematograph Bureau 4 -- --
International Committee for Social Sciences Documentation 10 -- --
International Container Bureau 13 19 --
International Council of Scientific Unions 7 59 9
-- International Council of Scientific Unions Abstracting Board 4 -- --
-- International Geophysical Committee 12 -- --
-- Federation of Astronomical and Geophysical Services 12 -- --
-- Committee on Space Research 10 33 --
-- Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research 7 12 --
-- Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research 8 32 --
-- Special Committee for the International Years of the Quiet Sun 4 -- ---
-- Inter-Union Commission on Science Teaching 10 -- --
international Council for Philosophy and Humanistic Studies 13 -- --
International Federation for Modern Languages and Literature 8 -- --
International Film and Television Council 36 8 --
Joint International Committee for the Protection of Telecommunica-
tions Lines and Ducts 68 --
Liaison Committee of Women's International Organizations 9 -- --
Non-Governmental Organizations Committee on Unicef 74 -- --
Union of International Engineering Organizations 16 -- --

Type B
Committee for European Construction Equipment 78              --
Committee  for  International   Co-operation   in   Information   Retrieval among Examining Patent Offices 4 19
Consultative Council of Jewish Organizations 12
Co-ordinating Board of Jewish Organizations 1 2 _
Co-ordinating Committee for International Voluntary Service 9 83 --
European Movement 9 15 --
Institute of Transport Aviation 16 58 --
International Bureau of Social Tourism ? 13 --
International Catholic Youth Federation 2 34 --
International Centre for African Social and Economic Documentation          2 89 --
International Centre for the Co-ordinating of Legal Assistance                     ? ? --
International Committee for Historical Sciences 12 38 --
International Committee on Laboratory Animals 5 26 --
International Confederation of Executive Staffs 3 6 --
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions 19 92 4
International Conference of Social Work 12 42 --
International Council of Sport and Physical Education 22 46 --
International Council of Voluntary Agencies 11 77 --
International Council on Alcohol and Alcoholism ? 41 --
International Council on Archives ? 71 --
International Council on Jewish Social and Welfare Services 3  3 --
International Federation of Christian Trade Unions 10 57 4
International Federation for Documentation 11 41 --
International Federation of Librar International Federation for Documentation 11 41 --
International Federation of Library Associations                                                5 54 --
International Federation of Record Libraries ? ? --
International Federation of Societies of Philosophy 11 35 --
International Music Council 9 41 --
International Red Cross 2 92 --
International Union for Child Welfare 2 48 --
International Union of Biological Sciences 18 35 15
International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics 7 58 --
Nuclear Public Relations Contact Group 6 19 --
Union of International Associations 281 50 --
World Confederation of Organizations of the Teaching Profession               ? 89 1
World Federation of Trade Unions 11 59 --

Type C
International Association for the Study of the Liver -- ? 1
International Astronautical Federation -- 32 2    .
International Astronomical Union -- 43 1
International Badminton Federation .                       -- 42 1
International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation -- 20 1
International Chamber of Commerce -- 40 1
International Chiropractors Association -- 18 1
International Council of Christian Churches -- 26 1
International Cyclists' Union -- 94 2
International Electrotechnical Commission -- 40 1
International Federation of Association Football -- 22 5
International Federation of Senior Police Officers -- 52 1
International League against Rheumatism -- ? --
International Scientific Radio Union -- 32 1
Inter-Union Commission on Allocation of Frequencies 3 -- --
International Society of Cardiology -- 56 3
International Society for Rehabilitation of the Disabled -- 62 1
International Table Tennis Federation -- 86 3
International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry -- 44 3
International Union of Pure and Applied Physics -- 35 2
Internationa] Union of Railways -- 38 5
Universal Esperanto Association -- 83 19
World Alliance of Young Men's Christian Associations -- 48               2
World Billiards Union -- -- 4
World Federation of Democratic Youth     -- 115 2
World Federation for Mental Health -- 53 1
World Organization of Gastroenterology -- 44 2
World Poultry Science Association -- 15 1

National NGO Groupings
Just as the number of international NGOs contnues to increase, so does the number of national NGOs. It is almost impossible to give even an approximate indication of how many national organizations there are in the world. In only a few countries is any attempt made to list them systematically, but comparison from country to country is not very instructive. The definition of a national organization is very broad. In some cases a local association may be recognized nationally, simply because no other equivalent body exists in that particular field at the national level. In the United States a general directory currently lists 13,000, but in the United Kingdom existing directories seem to cite figures between 30,000 and 60,000. Figures, including non-national level organizations, give 66,000 as the number in the Seine (Paris) area of France alone.International organizations, and particularly the United Nations, have to work through this multitude of bodies. It would therefore be useful to get some impression of the number of coordinating national organizations within each country -- just as it is necessary to concentrateon the coordinating international organizations to understand the structure of world society at that level. This project would involve a great deal of work if done systematically on a world wide basis -- which we are not at the moment in a position to do. We propose, therefore, to try to show for selected countries the number and nature of the national coordinating organizations. This will be done in successive issues of the magazine as the information is obtained.

NGO Groupings in theUnited Kingdom
Information on NGO groupings in the U.K. has fortunately been collected together by Mr. and Mrs. Ian Gordon-Brown. Since 1961, Mr. Gordon-Brown has been acting as the coordi nator for a committee which is setting up an International NGO Centre in London with low- rent office and meeting facilities. He is Executive Director of World Goodwill. The study was originally undertaken during the course of International Cooperation Year (1965) but has unfortunately never been completed. The infor mation obtained has been supplemented with details from a number of other sources and a list of the groupings is reproduced below. The list is not complete and we would welcome information on any additions. Approximately 790 organizations established in the U.K. were found
to be members of one or more of the main groupings. Of the 790, 66 were members of 2 groupings, 41 of 3, 12 of 4, 8 of 5, 1 of 6, 1 of 7, 1 of 8 and 2 of 9.

In order to find out whether there was a great deal of overlap in the membership, as has been claimed within the U.K. as an argument against these coordinating bodies, the membership of 14 groupings was analysed to determine what proportion of members belonged to other groupings (of the 14) as well.
The percentage figure given with the membership data of some groupings in the list below indicates the proportion of the membership which is involved with at least two other group ings.

This short study shows that an average of 40 % of the membership of 14 groupings is represented in two other groupings, indicating a certain amount of overlap. This overlap only affects 8 % of the organizations who are members of coordinating bodies, however, 71 % of the organizations attached to coordinating groups are not members of more than one group. This seems to indicate a case of 'underlap' rather than overlap, particularly when an unknown number between 30,000 and 60,000 are not even members of one coordinating group.

Member-     Obser- % in 2
ship     .      vers other
etc. groups
Association of British Chambers of Commerce 100 16 --
British National Conference of Social Welfare . 65 21 3
British Vigilance Association 26 -- --
Confederation of British Industries 251 -- --
Conference of Missionary Societies in G.B. and N. Ireland 32 -- --
Cooperative Union, Ltd. 740 -- --
East and West Friendship Council . 8 . . 16 --
National Council of Social Service  116  107 27
National Peace Council 40 -- 30
National Union of Students --  -- --
Royal Society -- -- --
Standing Conference of British Organisations for Aid to Refugees 21 5 57
Standing Conference of National Voluntary Youth Organizations 22 25 47
Standing Conference of Organisations of Social Workers 8 -- --
Standing Conference of Overseas Friendship Associations 7 -- 100
Standing Conference of Voluntary Organisations Cooperating in
Overseas Service 56              --                52
Standing Conference on the Economic and Social Work of the United Nations 45              --                53
Trades Union Congress                                                                                      172             --              --
United Kingdom Committee for International Cooperation Year (1965)      253             --               15
U.K. Committee for the Freedom from Hunger Campaign                               78             --               41
United Nations Association                                                                                  94             --               23
Voluntary Committee on Overseas Aid and Development                                 8             --              --
Voluntary Societies Committee for Service Overseas (Lockwood Com mittee)                                                                                                                   6                3              50
World Assembly of Youth (British National Committee)                                  27              16              59
Yearbook of International Organizations (includes international organizations established in the U.K. -- included for comparative pur poses, since some are members of national organizations)                     194             --                 4

>


[Links: From-K | From-Kx ]