NGOs in International Law
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NGOs in International Law

Efficiency in Flexibility?

Edited by Pierre-Marie Dupuy and Luisa Vierucci

The increasing role that NGOs play at different levels of legal relevance – from treaty-making to rule implementation, and from support to judges to aid delivery – calls for reconsideration of the international legal status of those organizations. This book shows that the degree of flexibility currently enjoyed by NGOs in fields as varied as human rights, the environment and the European Union development cooperation policy constitutes the best arena for all actors involved, with the consequences that the instances where more strict regulation of NGOs’ participation is desirable are very limited.
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Chapter 2: Domesticating Civil Society at the United Nations

Olivier de Frouville


Olivier de Frouville* For a number of years, the actors and the observers of the United Nations’ Human Rights Protection System have confirmed the ever-increasing presence of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) with similar views to those of the States. These organizations are often referred to as GONGOs – that stands for Governmental Non Governmental Organizations or Government Orientated NGOs1 – a term that expresses well the ambiguity of the phenomenon. The aim of this study is not to lead an inquiry or to expose anybody. Based on a factual assessment of the situation, it will define and identify a non-legal category of NGOs. This factual assessment results from a careful reading of the summary records from the sessions of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and of the new Human Rights * The author would like to thank Eric Goldstein, who kindly reviewed the English translation of the text. 1 See N. Ravi (2000), ‘Le problème des organisations pro-gouvernementales’, Moniteur des droits de l’homme, 49(50), 8–9. The author relates the fact that at the Committee’s 56th session, he ‘noticed pro-governmental organizations from the US, China, Cuba, Egypt, Algeria, Iran, Bangladesh and even from Nepal’. In this study, we will not be looking into the other categories of ‘problematic’ NGOs such as the ‘BINGOs’, Business Initiated NGOs, run by businesses and which are particularly present at the World Trade Organization (cf. FIDH (2001), L’OMC et les droits de l’Homme. Pour la primauté des droits de l’Homme. Pour la création d’un...

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