NGO or non-governmental organizations are legally formed organizations managed independently by legal people without any interference of government. Any NGO funded partially or fully by government in order to maintain its non-governmental status prevents government representatives from taking membership in the organization (NGO 2010). NGOs generally serve the social purpose that might or might not have political aspects. NGOs are task oriented and managed by people sharing the same interest and goals. NGOs serve wide-ranging purposes attracting the attention of both citizens and governments to issues involving health care, human rights, environment and so on. The World Bank has classified NGOs either into operational NGOs which mainly deal with development projects or advocacy NGOs which deal with promotion of a cause (BHRM). The United States has about 1.5 million operating in the country while the number of NGOs operating in Russia is 277,000. This paper will discuss in detail about national and international NGOs and their difference in operations in countries like Bahrain, USA and India.
NGOs are categorized into two types - national NGOs or local NGOs and international NGOs. Both national and international NGOs are governed by the basic law of constitution which determines the mission, vision, objectives and how the NGOs should be managed and financed (BHRM). National NGOs operate within a state serving the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights in political, social, economic, cultural and development fields. National NGOs also work for the promotion and protection of the rights of women and children. National NGOs are founded in accordance with the laws operational in a country that regulate the registration procedure and the functions of the organizations. For instance, the Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS) is a national NGO of Bahrain founded in 2001 to promote and protect the functioning of independent groups of human rights within the state. This organization has a membership in the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), the Arab Organization for Human Rights and the International Coalition for the International Criminal Court (ICC) (BHRM). Other examples of national NGOs include YMCAs/YWCAs, Red Cross, Professional Associations and so on.
International NGOs are institutions, organizations or associations operating in more than one country. These organizations bear the responsibility of protecting and promoting human rights, environment, social services and the interests of the poor throughout the world. International NGOs mainly deal with the issue of providing relief and developmental assistance to developing countries (BHRM). The objective of these organizations remains to provide help in those countries wherein the government is unable or unwilling to meet the basic needs of the citizens. Some examples of international NGOs include Amnesty International, CARE International, Oxfam International and World Vision International.
Local and International NGOs in Bahrain
There are several human rights NGOs in the country fighting for the rights of women, children and migrant labor. Some of the well-known NGOs in Bahrain include the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, the Bahrain Human Rights Society, and the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights. There are also many international NGOs like Amnesty International working in the country. In Bahrain, depending on a situation all the local and international NGOs working on human rights implement a variety of strategies such as receipt of complaints from citizens regarding the violation of human rights, conducting training courses and distributing pamphlets to spread awareness on human rights, providing legal assistance, forming close ties with regional, local and international institutions with similar interests in human rights, holding campaigns to generate public opinion and promotion of human rights through various educational programmes (BHRM).
Despite the common strategies undertaken by both NGOs and INGOs, the possible differences between the two in operation remains that the local NGOs have limited power as regards receiving of complaints or issuing reports critical of any possible violation of human rights in the country (BHRM). Local NGOs are entitled to receive required financial assistance from the government while international NGOs are to depend on donations, membership subscriptions, grants and unconditional funding from international and regional organizations.
Local and International NGOs in USA
There are about 1.5 million NGOs operating in USA on a wide variety of issues including healthcare, children's rights, women's rights, economic development, environment, elections and many other issues. Some of the US based NGOs include Human Rights Watch, The Iraq Foundation, National Endowment for Democracy, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and Committee to Protect Journalists. In USA any group of individuals with shared interests and goals may come forward to form NGOs in accordance with the laws prevailing in any of the 50 US states and they don't necessarily have to be US citizens. Registration process of the NGOs is simple varying from one state to another. NGOs may receive tax exemption from federal and state taxes by applying to the Internal Revenue Service provided the type of NGOs should be listed under tax-exempt status in the Internal Revenue Code (U.S. Department of State 2011). There is very little restriction imposed on the freedom of expression of the NGOs and therefore, unlike the NGOs in Bahrain, US NGOs have the power to engage in the advocacy for political issues or be critical of the government.
Any international NGO like Ducere Foundation, Save the Children, CARE and Oxfam International in order to be operational in USA needs to register itself as a non-profit entity in the country. All the international NGOs before they begin their activities in USA need to get a license to be eligible for conducting business in the country. International NGOs are allowed hold meetings or publish materials freely. Just like local NGOs, international NGOs in USA can apply to the Internal Revenue Service for tax exemption (U.S. Department of State 2011). However, any foreign contribution of fund to these organizations won’t be tax-deductible. Both international and local NGOs operational in the country are not allowed to collaborate with any individual or government working against USA or group such as terrorist organizations blacklisted in the country.
Local and International NGOs in India
India has probably the largest number of NGOs in the world with one NGO for less than 400 Indians. As per the estimation made in 2009, India has 3.3 million NGOs, more than the number of primary schools and health centers operational in the country (OWSA 2010). Some of the well-known NGOs in India include Help Age India which established in 1978 is dedicated to helping elderly people, Smile Foundation which established in 2002 helps promote child education and protect children from child labor, CRY which founded in 1979 fights for the promotion and protection of child rights, Nanhi Kali which founded in 1996 strives for girl education in India and Give India which founded in 1999 provides financial support to other non-government organizations (Rao, 2011). Though majority of the NGOs operating in India are run on the funding received from the government, individual donors are increasingly emerging as the largest contributors of finance to Indian NGOs. Private sector companies are yet to contribute significantly to Indian NGOs. At present Indian private companies only spend about 1% of their profits for these purposes (OWSA 2010).
Most of the international NGOs working in India either have operational local offices through which all the programs initiated in the country are monitored or manage the entire humanitarian work from outside headquarters. Some of these organizations fund their projects directly while others depend on Indian funding organizations for financial support. An estimated 18,000 international NGOs are working in India currently (Bashyam). Population Services International (PSI) is one such international NGO working in India to improve the health outcomes. Especially its goals are centered on the women's health program. The key challenge faced by PSI while working in India is the funding limitations because both the Indian governments as well as individual donors are more interested in contributing funds to local Indian NGOs (GW Reflections in India 2011). Another area of concern for the management of PSI is to ensure that the program and efforts taken by them for improved healthcare of women sustain in the long run even after PSI pulls itself out of operation in the country.
NGO or non-governmental organizations are legally constituted organizations operated independently by legal people without any government involvement. NGOs are categorized into two types - national NGOs or local NGOs and international NGOs. National NGOs which are founded in accordance with the laws operational in a country operate within a state promoting and protecting a variety of causes. International NGOs are institutions, organizations or associations operating in more than one country with the responsibility of protecting and promoting human rights, environment, social services and other issues related to the poor throughout the world. In Bahrain all the local and international NGOs dealing with human right issues adopt a variety of strategies to execute their goals and mission. However, the difference between the two remains in the degree of power enjoyed in certain issues and funding. USA allows any group of individuals with common goals and interests to form NGOs within the country and these NGOs are permitted to get tax exemption by applying to the Internal Revenue Service. Both local and international NGOs in USA enjoy freedom of expression and are allowed to hold meetings and disseminate information freely. Both local and international NGOs are not allowed to partner with any individual or group blacklisted in the country. India which has the largest number of NGOs in the world has most of the local NGOs depending on the funding received from the government. But increasingly, individual contributors are becoming a bigger source of funding for these NGOs. International NGOs in India faces the constraint of funding as the government and individual donors are more interested in donating for local NGOs.
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