What Is a Human Rights NGO?

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  • Written By: Jackie Myers
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 23 October 2019
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Human rights NGOs work to prevent injustices against people. These organizations can be found around the world and have the common goal of protecting human rights. Many non-governmental organizations expose violations of human rights and develop strategies to help more people become aware of the issues. Members of human rights NGO groups come from many different backgrounds and religions.

Different types of non-governmental organizations focus on different issues. Groups that focus on empowerment help people to understand how local economic conditions affect their lives. A service-oriented human rights NGO is dedicated to providing medical and educational services and is likely to be found in a less developed country or poor community.

A human rights NGO can also be charitable or participatory. Charitable groups assist with providing shelter, food, and clothing during natural disasters while participatory groups provide services to people in a local community. Members often volunteer physical labor to complete building projects.

The issues that human rights NGOs focus on varies greatly. Many independent organizations fight against discrimination, violence against women, and poverty, and for freedom of expression. Not for-profit organizations may also work to fight against laws in countries that do not allow everyone easy access to arms. Social organizations may work to protect indigenous peoples from harm.


Defenders of human rights may risk their lives fighting against injustices. Organizations are set up to protect these individuals when possible. Independent organizations around the world have reported that workers have been victims of assault and murder while speaking out against civil rights abuses. These crimes against human rights NGO members sometimes remain unsolved, and some believe that the lack of punishment for crimes against NGO workers encourages violence against them.

Non-governmental agencies receive donations from corporations and individuals. These monetary donations fund the awareness campaigns that are run by the organizations. Another important source of donations is fundraising events. A human rights NGO may seek out a celebrity spokesperson to gain attention for the group and civil rights groups often have professional marketing specialists as members.

Governments sometimes provide support to not for-profit organizations. Since they can analyze social problems independently and create effective solutions, NGOs often attract assistance from government agencies. Human rights organizations also influence the international policies that are created by the United Nations.


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Post 3

@MrsPramm - Living free from poverty is a human right as well though. I would argue that clean air and water is another human right. So most NGOs are working towards human rights if you look at it like that. I know there are atrocities that occur in war and in repressive regimes that need to be addressed, but that kind of thing tends to get better when the populace is healthy, well fed and educated anyway.

Post 2

@irontoenail - With the internet today it has become both better and worse I suspect. I've seen so many NGOs that seem to exist only on social media and do no real good in the world at all. They just encourage people to click "like" and then feel like they've done something for the world, when in reality all they are doing is contributing to advertising money.

On the other hand, legitimate petitions that are spread through the internet can gain millions of genuine signatures from all around the world and international companies and sometimes even governments can be influenced by that.

At any rate, human rights are never something we should take for granted, anywhere in the world.

Post 1

I worked with an Amnesty International group when I was in high school, although I don't know how much good we did. Writing letters is better than nothing, I suppose, but I can't help but feel like repressive governments couldn't care less what the rest of the world thinks as long as they don't get sanctioned by other governments.

Admittedly, that does happen, but rarely over one prisoner or humans rights abuse. Sometimes I wonder if it would make more sense to work for a cause related to poverty or something else where throwing money at the problem could actually make a difference to lives.

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