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Discussion on Role of NGO in Interference With UN Human Rights Programme Assessment Answer

NGOs: an aid or interference with the UN Human Rights Programme?

Aim: To compare, contrast and critically evaluate the role of Non Governmental organisations with Human rights activities of United Nations Organisation.

The broad goal of this research paper would be to find if the NGOs act as an accessory for spreading the Human rights activities in relation to UN agencies or if the NGOs act against the interests of UN agencies.

The research proposal would be using the methodology of Comparative approach to evaluate the distinction between the positives and the negative outcomes through historical, social and legal perspectives to draw a conclusion on the topic. 

A brief discussion on why this research proposal is worth undertaking:

In the 1960's “UN Development Decade '' (UNA-UK, 2015) the UN, with the help of NGO’s and John F. Kenendy, helped shift the focus of newly independent african countries towards economic development where the UN agencies agreed to allocate 0.7% of GDP of richer states for development assistance of poor states. As per Alger (2014), International institutions “such as the Rotary, the International Conference of Free Trade Unions, and the International Chamber of Commerce” were the NGOs which represented to look after UN activities in the UN Headquarters and helped with decreasing the burden of UN due to enrollment of new member states. 

On the positive side, some NGOs aid the UN agencies in spreading the scope of human right activities. Some of the UN agencies of which NGOs have been a part of are- United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the World Bank. These agencies have often hired NGOs on contracts rather than mutual beneficial cooperation (Mingst and Karns, 2012). The UN agencies often require external help from NGOs for accomplishment of their entities' goals, with necessary ground level information, resources, and legitimization, which it lacks internationally. (Martens, 2005)

While working with the UN, NGOs have been sharing expertise with: “policy initiating activities, policy developing processes and policy implementing practices” (Martens, 2005). Most of the time, NGOs’ reports provide background information and reduce the preparation time and the cost of the information collection process (Martens, 2005). Specifically, NGOs working in the area of human rights contribute to the UN by preparing reports on human rights violations worldwide. NGOs play a vital role in implementation practices and are important in monitoring and giving early warnings for any possible future crises and keeping the international community alert to unseen risks (Stahn, 2001)

However along with the above positives, the downside to the NGOs working with the UN agencies have been observed. Observations from african countries show that the efforts to help people may instead help the conflicting parties and make the situation worse for the UN agencies. For instance, roads constructed by NGOs for humanitarian aid had the consequential effect of facilitating the movements of militant groups. It was observed that they hired local militants to provide security for them and financed the conflicting parties indirectly (Stahn, 2001).

It is observed by Abiew and Keating in their paper, “NGOs and UN Peacekeeping Operations: Strange Bedfellows” that “NGO operations sometimes cause unintended consequences which might have been avoided. … humanitarian aid in civil wars may prolong the war, even as it saves lives. …although NGOs do not generate conflicts, they sometimes contribute to and reinforce violent conflicts.”(Abiew Keating, 2007).

As discussed above, we can see that there are both positives and negatives when it comes to activities conducted by the NGOs in relation to UN agencies. In this research paper, Comparative research approach would be used to see the historical and civil effects of participation of the NGOs in UN agencies and compare it to the recent scope of human rights development aided by the same alliance to find and suggest the appropriate level of participation of NGOs for maximum beneficiary results in terms of bringing an active change highlighting the need for change and aiding with ground level researc


NGOs: an aid or interference with the UN Human Rights Programme?

1. Introduction 

1.1 Introduction:

A discussion on the role of Non-Governmental Organizations with the human rights activities which are carried out by the United Nations Organization. A thorough discussion of comparing, contrasting along with critical evaluation is highlighted and finds out whether the NGOs act just as an accessory in favour of spreading the activities performed by United Nation Human Rights or whether they act against the interest of them. The discussion also includes the methodology of comparative approach and evaluates the differences between the positive and negative outcome through historical, social and legal perspectives.

1.2 Background:

There are numerous organizations across the globe who dedicate their efforts to end the human rights abuses and protect human rights which is a basic right to mankind. The condemnation of abuses by support from the public is very critical for the success of this mission. The effectiveness of the roles of the human rights organizations is possible and successful only when they will be backed up by strong public support. Non-Governmental Organizations are examples of these groups. These NGOs work on the injustices that take place on children, women and others belonging to the under-class in the society (Ross, 2020). These NGOs engage themselves in active campaigns like ‘Rights relating to life’, equality, liberty and the dignities of individual human beings, they remind the governments to adhere to the promises they made to reach the goals that are set by various conventions of human rights, nationally and internationally (Legal Services, 2020).

1.3 Rationale:

To bridge the gap of local languages, identifying issues and its root cause, monitor activities and other activities at the local levels, NGOs play the most vital roles. The reason for this study is to highlight and study if the NGOs are indeed helpful for the people of the society by protecting their human rights and help them to provide them with the right justice and in turn helping the nation.

1.4 Significance:

The role and existence of NGOs have great significance in society. Their existence bridges the gap and helps at international, national and also at the regional levels by monitoring activities at a micro level about any violation of 'Rights relating to life', equality, liberty and the dignities of individual human beings. In any such scenarios, they report and remind the governments to comply with the promises which these people are eligible for, as per the standards set by various conventions of human rights. The NGOs also fill the gap of communication between the underprivileged and the government to raise their voice (ISHR, 2020).

2.0 NGOs helping the UN Human Rights Development program 

2.1 Importance of NGO’s in UN Human Rights Programme: 

NGOs are the Non-Governmental Organizations who support the United Nation for the right justice for Human Rights to all the citizens across the globe.

The NGOs are the most valuable hands of the United Nation and the United Nation offers a wide range of responsibilities for the NGOs which are executed collaboratively and done to achieve sustainable developments across the globe.

Limitation of NGOs in Drafting: While NGOs will have the right to make statements and at the same time, they can distribute communications by maintaining a certain set of rules but, they will not have the right to participate and engage themselves in any kind of negotiations. It will only be the member states who will be the decision-maker. However, the variations have been seen.

Drafting of the United Nations Charger: NGOs played a very important role in helping to draft the United Nations Charter to include the provisions of human rights in the Charter. As per Wiseberg (2017), this activity was done during the International Crusade against Human Rights violations.

Convention of the Rights of the Child: A ten years process that started in 1979 where inputs were taken from NGOs.

Fact-Finding or Information Gathering, Analysis and Dissemination: The United Nations working group rely on these NGOs for gathering various information, finding actual facts, Analyse the information gathered and Disseminate the right way of the human rights violation issues and these NGOs play the most important role in executing those missions. Amnesty, as an example, sends over 500 communications to the United Nations Special Procedure Branch that covers thousands of cases every year (Wiseberg, 2017).

International Solidarity and Support to Human Rights Defenders: This activity is to provide all kinds of protections to the victims as well as probable victims and especially who are the protectors of human rights and are done by Amnesty with various techniques.

Under this program, various NGOs also facilitate financial help as well as legal advice or provide lawyers to safeguard and defend the political prisoners who are on various trials.

Human Rights Education: This is one of the basic human rights and there are many NGOs who are constantly working towards the ending of violation of human rights education. NGOs engage themselves in various activities and over 100 such programs related to human rights education can be found, like the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies in The Gambia, another is the Arab Institute of Human Rights in Tunisia, the International American Institute of Human Rights in Costa Rica and many more.

Expertise in Policy Analysis: Apart from the concept that NGOs only provide information, the policy of Analysis is also a part of NGOs. The NGOs are now even taking place in providing various expertise to the United Nations and also to various other inter-governmental organisations as well, like the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe or the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and even to the governments and help them to implement and expedite their programmes (Wiseberg, 2017).

Freedom of Association and Access to the United Nation: Another critical function that the NGOs do is that the NGOs, as a neutral entity, keep the political system open of all the elements in a civil society. For the civil society to function freely, the NGOs work to ensure that all the citizens enjoy their freedoms like the freedom of association, the freedom of opinion, freedom of expression and the freedom of assembly.

To name a few of the world's leading NGOs who work with the United Nations are:

The International Committee of Red Cross Society: In the year 1863, The International Committee of Red Cross Society was established which is engaged in preparing reports of various human rights violations arising across the globe. They distribute those reports of human rights violations to the concerned and create all sorts of possible awareness using the media as a weapon. The awareness is created, post collection of accurate information with respect to human rights (Your Article Library, 2020).

Amnesty International: Amnesty International is one of the largest internationally recognized NGO which works on different campaigns, and takes necessary action. It has thousands of local groups across the globe with active members who aim to reduce freeing of prisoners who are detained with the belief, on ethnic origin, their sex, their colour, languages, and much more. This organization mainly concentrates on political imprisonment, the torture had on them, and execution. As another activity, recently Amnesty International had put a proposal to include the High Commissioner of Human Rights. Few of the popular work done by Amnesty International are mentioned below. 

  • The Communal Violence: This is one of the ongoing activity by Amnesty International working on communal violence which took place in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts in Uttar Pradesh where there were incidents of killings of two Hindu men which led to the outbreak of violence with large gathering resulting in the death of 60 people and Amnesty is working on the issue (Amnesty International, 2020a).
  • Justice in Sri Lanka: This is related to the human rights violations in Sri Lanka where there were incidents of denial of justice and redress. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights worked to implement the human resource commission 22/1 on Sri Lanka and built human resource resolution 19/2 in the year 2012 (Amnesty International, 2020b).
  • Working for Individuals: In 1998 Amnesty International had worked on the closing of detention of prisoners and also on probable prisoners.

Human Rights Watch: This is again another popular international NGO, working at International level which also highlights different kinds of human rights violations that come across, around the globe. One of the divisions of Human Rights Watch is working on human rights and prison conditions. This NGO works on investigations based on fact findings of abuses on human rights across the globe (Wiseberg, 2017). They then publish those findings and reports through dozens of books and all kinds of reports annually through various national and international media.

2.2 Historical and civil effects of the NGOs supporting the UN Human Rights Development program 

Civil effect

As per the world’s conference on Human Rights which was held in Vienna, it had the objective “to review and assess the progress made in the field of human right”. It was stated in that conference that the role and existence of nongovernmental organizations are important to promote all kinds of human rights (Legal Services, 2020).

Among various roles played by NGOs the most important roles played by them are:

The Social Welfare Role: This kind of role involves the actions of relief and charity. To implement this role, NGOs initiate internal programs and projects.

The Mediatory Role: The mediatory role is involved with different kinds of development and various social activities and communication is one of the major skill required for this role

The Consultative Role: This kind of role is involved for the need of any kind of documentation and passing of information. The NGOs involved with this kind of roles usually work in collaborative programs. The people that play important roles are the local experts or professionals or resource persons (Legal Services, 2020).

Role in Development and Operation of Infrastructure: In this role, the NGOs work as development in terms of infrastructures like constructing housing, developing land, etc., or even does maintenance work such as wells, public toilets, collection of solid wastes, etc.

Role of the Decision-maker for Innovation, Demonstration and Pilot Projects: As per a recent report, there are NGOs who plays the role of selecting and deciding places for doing innovative projects and do the estimations of time and finance needed (Council of Europe, 2020).

Role as Consultant or Suggestion Provider: The NGOs work as consultants and can also be engaged with the governments and their bodies at all levels and communicate for any kind of policymaking.

Role of Technical Assistant and Trainer: The NGOs of this kind develop various technical training capacities and use them to groom various governments as well as CBOs (Legal Services, 2020).

The UN Commission on Human Rights has initiated various studies and fact-finding missions and discusses various human rights issues. This body has all the rights and has the responsibilities to initiate and draft all kinds of human rights declarations and conventions.

Historical effect

To perform various kinds of activities there are specialized various intergovernmental organizations that work hand-in-hand with the UN Human Rights Council. The historical effect could be viewed as:

The UNICEF works with various other UN bodies, governments, and NGOs and it provides various community-based services associated with primary healthcare, basic education for children and other issues related to children. United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM): This body deals with all kinds of development related to women. World Health Organization (WHO): This body promotes all kinds of campaigns and activities related to health systems (Hrlibrary, 2020).

Agenda Setting: It is well known from history that the NGOs has played a vital role in reforming and bringing many changes at various countries in the world, for example, highlighting the slavery issue to the world and many more (Wiseberg, 2017).

Drafting Legislation: According to Wiseberg (2017), this describes the rights of the NGOs which says that the NGOs have every right to make statements and at the same time distribute communications as per the set of rules that govern them, however, they do not have the right to participate in any kind of negotiations. 

Fact-Finding or Information Gathering, Analysis and Disseminate: This is very crucial and one of the most important roles that an NGO performs to protect and help in promoting human rights across the globe. The NGO engages themselves in gathering information and then evaluates the information which is gathered and then participates in disseminating them and is very much effective. 

Witnesses, Denunciation or the Mobilization of Shame: It has been quite often heard and seen that there are many instances where the NGOs are being harassed and accused by the human rights violators themselves.

International Solidarity and Support to Human Rights Defenders: To protect the risk of life and threats to the NGO workers or the human rights defenders who are involved in struggling to protect the human rights, a strategy of international solidarity and humanitarian relief has been framed with a wide range of tactics used

Human Rights Education: Human rights education, one of the most important aspects of all societies across the globe. Any individual or any community cannot protect their rights until and unless they are aware of it. The NGOs take an active part in expediting these functions by creating awareness amongst all.

Expertise and Policy Analysis: This function of the NGO is to provide their expertise to the United Nations and to any other intergovernmental organizations (Wiseberg, 2017). 

Keeping the Political System Open - Freedom of Association and Access to the United Nation: To work for freedom of association, freedom of opinion, freedom of expression and for freedom of assembly, the NGOs help the civil society to function and make it possible to happen. For democracy as well as for the democratic forces, they help in creating political space. This is the most important reason why protecting the fighters of democratic rights defenders are important.

3.0 NGOs interfering/opposing the UN Human Rights Development program 

The role of the NGO is to provide assistance and support to the individuals who are the victims of the oppression in the modern world. As per Baig and Ullah (2017), NGOs are active in different parts of the world. They are a diversified nation and they have the potential to solve the cases of the victims. They solve the cases through proper highlighting the case to the United Nations and other peacekeeping international societies. They are the defenders of human rights in many cases. The role of the NGO is sometimes found to be against the values of the UN human rights. These are caused due to corruption in the organization. There are some cases in which the NGO has been involved to get some restrictions in their work due to their violation and opposing the regulations of the UN human rights. There are many cases where many nations across the world have reduced the activities of NGOs (Role of NGOs, 2020). This has been executed as they are activating wrong measures and performances which are not parallel to the basic human rights of the individuals. The official record of the UN has involved the reduction of the NGO activities to help the nation to have proper peace and prosperity among the individuals.

3.1 Examples of NGOs and real-life incidents like war/other violations

The NGO is a part of the civil society and they play a significant role in preserving human rights. The United Nation’s high commissioner for human rights is Miss Navi Pillay. She has framed the issues of the NGO in many nations which are required to be solved and identified. An autonomous NGO is able to operate independently. These NGOs act as the connecting tool with the government and individuals. Miss Navi Pillay has identified some cases of the nations like Egypt, Zimbabwe, Cambodia and other developing nations where recent attempts are passed to check the activities of the NGO. The Egyptian revolution has been altered by the activities of the NGOs. The NGOs are interfering in the administrative policies and roles of the government (UN NEWS, 2020). These actions are viewed in the form of the anti-national activities which have to be reduced through the restrictions on NGOs. In the case of Zimbabwe, a number of 29 NGOs have been suspended by the provincial authorities. The activities of the NGOs are against the freedom of the association's human rights of the nation. This is also creating pressures in the administrative works of Zimbabwe. The case of the Combodia describes the roles of the NGOs which are harming the national unity and culture of the nation. This is the direct assault on the human rights of Cambodian citizens. The NGOs are sometimes funded by the ill-legitimate means. They are also involved in many criminal activities like human trafficking, conversions and drug dealing. These also act as the basic violations of the human rights of the world. The commissioner of the UN human rights has sailed theta the NGO must operate free from the executives for the betterment to frame a proper inclusive society.

The NGOs are also involved in religious conversions in many nations. Religious conversion is also a part of the violation of human rights. The case of India is quite relevant for understanding the roles of the NGO is conversion to Christianity. The home minister of India Amit Shah has forced the foreign contribution registration rules to reframe its policies and activities. This also provides some restrictions in their duties. The home minister also made the NGO make the promises to not be involved in the conversion activities. These activities are happening in India for some years with little pace and they are getting some funding from the various departments. As per a recent report, the home minister has made the suspension of some NGOs throughout the nation. These NGOs are also involved in the conversions of the Indian tribal communities (Asia News, 2020). They provide jobs, incentives, food, water and recreational benefits to these tribes in the name of the charity and welfare. The Home Minster has made the policies to check and make the proper detailing of the activities of the NGOs. The accounts from which these NGOs are getting funds are also investigated and checked with proper documentation. This involves violating the resolution of the general assembly of the united nation. The resolution is termed as 36/35 which is based on the right to freedom of religion, thought and conscience and it was made in the 25th November of 1982. Thus also refers to the enforcement which has the potential to impair the freedom to have religion or belief (UN, 2020). The tribal of India are the main victims of this violation of the religion. They are helpless in front of the domestic assistants in the name of conversions and as a result, they are victims of the NGO.

The NGOs of Indonesia has funded the recent Delhi riots. These riots are based on the NRC and CAA which has been installed by the Indian government. The NGO has received funding from the Middle Eastern nation to promote violence and give communal agenda to the recent protest in Delhi. This NGO has a connection with the Lasker e taiba and Tagblehi Jamat (Asia News, 2020). These are also involved in the spread of the coronavirus. They had planned to use the lockdown situation of India to be dysfunction and they would carry out different terrorist activities in the form of riots. Some of the sources of the Indian administration have found some Pakistani NGOs to be linked in the promotion of the riots. They are assisting the communal violence and riots through monetary resources, weapons and legal aids. The many Indian NGOs are also involved in the riot assistants as the home minister of India has restricted some works of the Indian NGOs. These NGOs are acting in a unified way to make the recent Modi government of India come into decline. They play the Muslim victim cards which have been used in the Shahenn Bag protest. They aided these protesters with food and financial aids. These NGOs are active in ruining the prestige and harmony of the recent BJP government of India (Bedekar et al. 2020). They are also involved in human and women trafficking activities. Some of the incidents the NGO had involved have supplied women to the Arab nations for their own interests. These activities of the NGO have made the Indian government take precautionary steps to make the lockdown and reduction of the coronavirus transmission to the minimal ground. The government has also taken some methods which can also make these NGO inactive in countries. These all are the incidents which describe the roles of the NGO in destroying human rights. They all are involved in their own profit, interest and prestige. They are not working for the establishment and preservation of human rights.

3.2. Historical and civil effects of the NGOs opposing/interfering with the UN Human Rights Development program 

The activities of the NGO have come into decline in many countries. This has happened due to increment of the hurdles which has been provided by the violation programs of the NGOs. They are involved in designing restrictive frameworks based on opposing the human rights of the citizens (Gill, 2017). They are active in the developing nations where they use to play the victim cards of the minorities and oppressed society for their own interest. This has created a problem for the developing nation to become developed. They are also involved in opposing the social reforms which the local government of these nations is providing.

The role of the NGO in the distribution of health and hygiene is one of the significant roles. They are active in many African nations in providing proper health and facilities. The main intention of the NGO is to make a profit and make internal fame. They use to maintain the consistency of the hygienic problems in the nation to make their business more successful. Thus they are violating the human rights of basic needs. As a result, the African nations are getting poorer due to the business mentality of the NGO. The case of Somalia has proven the efficiency of the NGO to be negative. The UN has tried to provide humanitarian help to the authorities and individuals of the nation named Somalia. The roles of the NGO are resulted in outperformed and several criticisms are raised by the members of the UN. The roles of the NGO have been viewed through the lens of the social services but in the real case, the intentions of the NGO is to serve their own interest and nothing else. The NGO is tending to focus on their own profits and objectives.  The NGOs run on their own interest in many cases to present their own intentions. The number of NGO in any developing nations is growing in large number. They use it to point out some human rights issues of the nation. They use the human right violation as the form of their instinct of business. They can make changes in the political discourses of the nation (Master-iesc, 2020). In the case of Mozambique, the NGO has been involved in distorting the health system of the nation. They have undermined the local health monitor programs and have given the price as the rise of social inequality. This has helped them to take the power of the government to make the establishment of their own supremacy in the nation.

The NGOs are involved in the competition with each other in order to become more and more funded by different agencies (Role of NGOs, 2020). The number of the NGO is usually funded by the agencies which have some improper intentions and political distributing elements as the concerns. This funding body helps the NGO and made them do their respective activism and work. They are motivated and monitored by the actions of the funding bodies. The initial motives of the NGOs are lost and they are in the performances of the violation of the human rights and other social harming activates in the society. They used to target the developing and African nations to make their revenues to be increased. The case of the Haiti earthquake is one of the relevant examples in which the NGO has come to take some of the powers of the local government to formulate their own dominance. The NGO first came to assist the victims of the earthquake. They had created the alternative structure for social services. They also make the officials of the government work for them (Master-iesc, 2020). Through this, they are pushing the executives towards them. Thus they violate human rights based on social services and authorities. This also leads to changes in the political scenario of Haiti.

The NGO acts as the trusting units of society. They provide the assistance to the individuals which the national government of any nation cannot provide. The violation of human rights can break this trust. The roles of the NGO in the violation of human rights can also lead to the civil war in many nations. The many Middle Eastern nations are the victims of the violation of human rights by NGO (Ali, 2018). The trusts on the NGO in recent days are not reliable by the modern generations. They are involved in activities like conversions which can also lead to the demographic changes in the nation. The activities of the NGO can also change the government of the nation and the authorities' powers of the nation. The nation will become a colony of the NGO. The NGO is also active in funding the terrorist organization which is also acting as the violation of human rights. They act as the problem creates in many Middle Eastern nations. Thus it can lead to the political changes of the nation and the independence of that nation will be minimized.

4. Conclusion 

The United Nation, which is an intergovernmental body, has core connection with NGOs and the NGOs are of immense importance which leads to execution of various programs and information with data collection, fact-finding and reports related to human rights violation anywhere in the world.

It is not only important for the United Nation, but the NGOs are very important to all kinds of individuals who are affected in terms of human rights violation. As the NGOs work as a neutral body, it ensures that any person is not violated from the basic rights because of any political discrepancies or disturbances or any way affected because of any political violence. Good governance in a state also has a positive influence on the existence of NGOs so that equality of human rights are achieved and maintained. As discussed, apart from fact-finding and reporting, the NGOs are also involved in providing various inputs, considering the fact, a good government may also involve various NGOs to take part in various inputs and resolve any human rights violations within their states.

With such growing popularity of NGOs, there were still diverse opinions within various member states showing reluctance. However, the NGOs have managed to influence these kinds of UN actions by using their informal links or "by mobilizing the local community leaders and groups". As the United Nations works with the principle believing sovereign equality of all the state members and being a large body it becomes almost impossible for them to manage and in the situations where the interests of various state members conflict. In such cases, to expedite the process, the United Nations need help from external bodies like the NGOs to accomplish their goals. These kinds of situations mark the most important cause of the existence of the NGOs. Non-Governmental Organizations proved to be the best in facing the reality at the ground level and collecting ground reports and forwarding the information and data to the right place and also participating in any kind of mediation between the people affected and the political party involved. While NGOs are such effective to perform their work, but many of the NGOs in certain countries suffer the shortage of funds and have to depend on various public contributions as well as sponsorships from various corporates to carry on their activities and mobilise things. The lack of proper training is also found in many cases while a couple of other NGOs are found to be unable to manage their funds properly leading to a loss of confidence within the mass and other authorities. The NGOs in many of the times do not cover or maybe not able to cover their programs across a particular nation in spite of being efficient due to financial constraints or lack of support. Also, too many NGOs across is also a cause at times which tend to detest the actual motive and objective of the idealism of NGOs. Another main factor is the lack of control by governments in certain states leads to defective administration in the NGOs.

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