The role of NGOs in the promotion of human rights

The role of NGOs in the promotion of human rights
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have recently become key actors in responding to the challenges associated with human rights, playing an important role in the promotion of economic growth, development of societies, improvement of communities, and promotion of citizen participation. NGOs are especially essential for the socio-economic development of countries in which the capacities and resources of the governments are restricted (Brophy, 2020). NGOs operate around the world based on human principles and the principle of neutrality to play their part in addressing a variety of challenges, including environmental issues and human rights violations.

One of the main issues always considered by NGOs is the rights of children and young people. The Convention on the Rights of the Child sets out the rights that must be realized for children to develop to their full potential (UNICEF, 2021). In line with this responsibility, many NGOs across the world aim to protect children’s rights or play a role in this area. For example, according to Reliefweb (2021) six global NGOs joined forces with the EU to protect children in Africa from pandemic-related violence. The alliance included Child Fund Alliance, Plan International, Save the Children International, SOS-Children’s Villages International, Terre des Hommes International Federation, and World Vision International. The plan is supposed to be implemented in Ethiopia, Kenya, Senegal, and Uganda because they have been exposed to high levels of risk because of the negative impacts of the pandemic. The main objectives of this plan are allowing children to confidently report incidents of sexual violence, teaching children about their rights, supporting parents manage stress, build skills for positive parenting, and also producing and distributing information material for families and children on child protection. Another example is AFRUCA (2018) which works with different agencies across Europe and is a member of the international society for protection against child abuse and neglect. AFRUCA helps to address the issues faced by African children, young people, and families.

The rights of women across the world, particularly in the African content is another humanitarian issue raised by many NGOs. Access to sexual and reproductive health care is crucial to saving lives, promoting global health and achieving sustainable human development. The EU is one of the world’s most influential development actors (IPPF, 2021). WECF, officially registered as a foundation in 1994 in the Netherlands as Women in Europe for a Common Future, is a nonprofit network dedicated to a gender just and healthy planet for all, working on transformative gender equality and women’s rights in interconnection with climate justice, sustainable energy & chemicals, less toxic waste, safe water & sanitation for all. The African Women’s Organization in Vienna is a non-governmental organization established in 1996 by African women from Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Nigeria, Senegal, Egypt and other African countries (European Commission, 2021) to protect women’s rights in different areas.

Related to these two is discrimination and racism particularly against people of African descent. Afrophobia is a special form of racism referring to any act of violence and discrimination including racist speech, fueled by historical abuses and negative stereotyping, and resulting in the exclusion and dehumanization of people of African descent. It can take many forms such as dislike, bias, oppression, racism and structural and institutional discrimination, among others. Strong and specific policies are needed to address Afrophobia, including its structural dimensions and impact on economic and social outcomes for people of African descent and Black Europeans, including in employment, housing, education, health, political participation, criminal justice and other sectors. ENAR is one of the NGOs working to put an end to structural racism and discrimination across Europe and make a real difference in ethnic and religious minorities’ lives.

Another issue of concern is the environment and different environmental problems experienced across the world. Environmental NGOs play an important role in raising public awareness on environmental. The European Union funds environmental NGOs under the LIFE program to help them contribute to ongoing and future policies. Non-profit, independent environmental NGOs active at European level can apply for this funding annually. Annually, the EU supports between 25 and 30 organizations. Funded NGOs currently include WWF Europe, Climate Action Network Europe (CAN Europe), Friends of the Earth Europe, BirdLife Europe, and Slow Food. CAN Europe, for instance, works to prevent dangerous climate change and promotes sustainable climate and energy policy in Europe, and Friends of the Earth Europe concentrates on a peaceful and sustainable world based on societies living in harmony with nature. The European Network for Central Africa (EURAC) is another organization which aims to carry out advocacy towards the EU to contribute to the development and the implementation, by the EU and its members states, of strong and coherent policies promoting peace, inclusive political participation, the sustainable and equitable management of natural resources and the full respect of human rights in the Great Lakes region.

In summary, many NGOs contribute to checking, monitoring, and criticizing the actions of Governments and private bodies, while supplementing and complementing the role of Government in combating discrimination and to help individuals and groups assert their rights. Certainly, the cooperation of all organizations, institutions, and communities across the globe will make the world a better place to live.

References

  • what-europe-does-for-me.eu/en/portal/2/L01
  • childfundalliance.org/our-work/childfund-europe
  • caneurope.org
  • friendsoftheearth.eu/what-we-do/
  • www.ippfen.org/our-priorities/pushing-womens-and-girls-rights-heart-european-agenda
  • www.wecf.org/about-us/#aim-vision
  • www.eurac-network.org/en/mission-structure-funding
  • European Commission (2021). https://ec.europa.eu/justice/grants/results/daphne-toolkit/content/african-womens-organization-vienna_en
  • www.enar-eu.org/Introduction